She Loves You
|"She Loves You"|
First US release (Swan 4152)
|Single by The Beatles|
|B-side||"I'll Get You"|
|Released||23 August 1963 (UK)
16 September 1963 (US)
|Recorded||1 July 1963
EMI Studios, London
|The Beatles singles chronology|
"She Loves You" is a song written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney and recorded by English rock group the Beatles for release as a single in 1963. The single set and surpassed several records in the United Kingdom charts, and set a record in the United States as one of the five Beatles songs that held the top five positions in the American charts simultaneously on 4 April 1964. It is their best-selling single and the best selling single of the 1960s in the United Kingdom.
In November 2004, Rolling Stone ranked "She Loves You" number 64 on their list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. In August 2009, at the end of its "Beatles Weekend", BBC Radio 2 announced that "She Loves You" was the Beatles' all-time best-selling single in the UK based on information compiled by The Official Charts Company.
Lennon and McCartney started composing "She Loves You" on 26 June 1963 after a concert at the Majestic Ballroom in Newcastle upon Tyne during their tour with Roy Orbison and Gerry and the Pacemakers. They began writing the song on the tour bus, and continued later that night at their hotel in Newcastle.[nb 1]
In 2000, McCartney said the initial idea for the song began with Bobby Rydell's hit "Forget Him" with its call and response pattern, and that "as often happens, you think of one song when you write another ... I'd planned an 'answering song' where a couple of us would sing 'she loves you' and the other ones would answer 'yeah yeah'. We decided that was a crummy idea but at least we then had the idea of a song called 'She Loves You'. So we sat in the hotel bedroom for a few hours and wrote it—John and I, sitting on twin beds with guitars." It was completed the following day at McCartney's family home in Forthlin Road, Liverpool.
Like many early Beatles songs, the title of "She Loves You" was framed around the use of personal pronouns. But unusually for a love song, the lyrics were not written in the first person; instead the narrator functions as a helpful go-between for estranged lovers:
- You think you lost your love,
- Well, I saw her yesterday.
- It's you she's thinking of –
- And she told me what to say.
- She says she loves you ...
This idea was attributed by Lennon to McCartney in 1980: "It was Paul's idea: instead of singing 'I love you' again, we'd have a third party. That kind of little detail is still in his work. He will write a story about someone. I'm more inclined to write about myself."
Lennon, being mindful of Elvis Presley's "All Shook Up", wanted something equally as stirring: "I don't know where the 'yeah yeah yeah' came from [but] I remember when Elvis did 'All Shook Up' it was the first time in my life that I had heard 'uh huh', 'oh yeah', and 'yeah yeah' all sung in the same song". The song also included a number of "wooooo"'s, which Lennon acknowledged as inspired by the Isley Brothers' recording of "Twist and Shout", which the Beatles had earlier recorded, and which had been inserted into the group's previous single, "From Me to You". As Lennon later said: "We stuck it in everything". McCartney recalls them playing the finished song on acoustic guitars to his father Jim at home immediately after the song was completed: "We went into the living room [and said] 'Dad, listen to this. What do you think? And he said 'That's very nice son, but there's enough of these Americanisms around. Couldn't you sing 'She loves you, yes, yes, yes!'. At which point we collapsed in a heap and said 'No, Dad, you don't quite get it!'". EMI recording engineer Norman Smith had a somewhat similar reaction, later recounting, "I was setting up the microphone when I first saw the lyrics on the music stand, 'She loves you, yeah, yeah, yeah, She loves you, yeah, yeah, yeah, She loves you, yeah, yeah, yeah, Yeah!' I thought, Oh my God, what a lyric! This is going to be one that I do not like. But when they started to sing it—bang, wow, terrific, I was up at the mixer jogging around."
The "yeah, yeah, yeah" refrain proved an immediate, effective, infectious musical hook. Unusually, the song starts with the hook right away, instead of introducing it after a verse or two. "She Loves You" does not include a bridge, instead using the refrain to join the various verses. The chords tend to change every two measures, and the harmonic scheme is mostly static.
The arrangement starts with a two-count of Ringo Starr's drums, and his fills are an important part of the record throughout. The electric instruments are mixed higher than before, especially McCartney's bass, adding to the sense of musical power that the record provides. The lead vocal is sung by Lennon and McCartney, switching between unison and harmony.
George Martin, the Beatles' producer, questioned the validity of the major sixth chord that ends the song, an idea suggested by George Harrison. "They sort of finished on this curious singing chord which was a major sixth, with George [Harrison] doing the sixth and the others doing the third and fifth in the chord. It was just like a Glenn Miller arrangement." The device had also been used by country music-influenced artists in the 1950s. McCartney later reflected: "We took it to George Martin and sang 'She loves you, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeeeeeaah ...' and that tight little sixth cluster we had at the end. George [Martin] said: 'It's very corny, I would never end on a sixth'. But we said 'It's such a great sound, it doesn't matter'".
The song was recorded on 1 July 1963, less than a week after it was written. It was done on a two-track recording machine; documentation regarding the number of takes required and other recording details does not exist. Standard procedure at EMI Studios at the time was to erase the original two-track session tape for singles once they had been mixed down to the (usually monaural) master tape used to press records. This was the fate of four Beatles songs that were released as two singles: "Love Me Do", "P.S. I Love You", "She Loves You", and "I'll Get You". These tracks only exist as a mono master, although several mock-stereo remixes have been made by EMI affiliates worldwide, including a few made in 1966 by Abbey Road engineer Geoff Emerick. Mixing was done on 4 July.
The German division of EMI (the parent of the Beatles' British record label Parlophone Records) decided that the only way to sell Beatles records in Germany would be to re-record them in the German language. The band thought it unnecessary, but were asked by George Martin to comply, recording "Sie Liebt Dich" on 29 January 1964, along with "Komm, Gib Mir Deine Hand", at the Pathe Marconi Studios in Paris. They recorded new vocals over the original backing track to "I Want to Hold Your Hand" but "She Loves You" required them to record a new rhythm track as the original two-track recording had been scrapped. Both songs were translated by Luxembourger musician Camillo Felgen, under the pseudonym of "Jean Nicolas".
On 23 August 1963, the "She Loves You" single was released in the United Kingdom with "I'll Get You" as the B-side. The songwriting credit on the label was switched to "Lennon–McCartney" for this release – a switch from the "McCartney–Lennon" order of nearly all prior Beatles releases – and would remain this way during the remainder of the band's tenure.
There was tremendous anticipation ahead of the release – thousands of fans had ordered the group's next single as early as June, well before a title had been known. By the day before it went on sale, some 500,000 advanced orders had been placed for it. The single set several British sales records. It entered the charts on 31 August and remained in the charts for 31 consecutive weeks, 18 of those weeks in the top three (including every week of the months of September, October, November and December 1963). During that period, it claimed the ranking of number one on 14 September, stayed number one for four weeks, dropped back to the top three, then regained the top spot for two weeks starting on 30 November. This re-gaining of the top spot was very unusual at the time. It then made its way back into the charts for two weeks on 11 April 1964, peaking at 42. It passed sales of a half million copies by early June and a million by late November, whereupon it was awarded a gold record. The song's run on the charts coincided with the 13 October 1963 performance of the group on Sunday Night at the London Palladium and the emergence of full-blown Beatlemania in the United Kingdom.
It was the best-selling single of 1963, and is the Beatles' all-time best-selling single in the UK. It was the best-selling single of any artist in the United Kingdom for 14 years until it was surpassed by "Mull of Kintyre" by Wings (written by Paul McCartney and Denny Laine). As of November 2012, it is the eighth best-selling single of all time by any artist in the UK, with sales of 1.9 million copies.
The group's lack of success in the US puzzled the Beatles' producer George Martin and manager Brian Epstein given their huge hits in the UK. Their only United States release that had charted was "From Me to You", which lasted three weeks in August 1963, never going higher than number 116 on the Billboard Hot 100. Capitol Records had been stubborn in turning down the chance to become their record label in the US, and consequently the Beatles had been with Vee-Jay Records until that label failed to pay their royalties on time. Transglobal Music, an affiliate of EMI, held the licenses to their output in the US, and promptly ordered Vee-Jay to halt their manufacturing and distribution of Beatles records. Epstein, who needed a record label to release "She Loves You" in the United States, asked Transglobal to find another label for him, and Transglobal came up with Swan Records. To avoid potential disagreements and lawsuits, the contract signed with Swan licensed to them only "She Loves You" and "I'll Get You", enough only for the A- and B-sides of a single – and only for two years.
When "She Loves You" came out as a single in the US on 16 September 1963, it received a positive notice in Billboard, but garnered very little radio airplay. New York disc jockey Murray the K saw it place third out of five in a listener record contest, but it failed to take off from that. The song was also featured as a part of the Rate-a-Record segment of American Bandstand where it scored in the low 70's, noticeably lower than those songs considered to score well. Overall, it sold about a thousand copies and completely failed to chart on Billboard.
In January 1964, the Beatles released "I Want to Hold Your Hand", which quickly climbed all the way to number one, launching the "British invasion" of the American music scene and paving the way for more Beatles records and releases by other British artists. In the wake of that success, the Swan "She Loves You" single re-emerged, and entered the Billboard chart on 25 January 1964. Beatlemania took hold of America, spurred by the group's appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show in February, where they performed this among other songs. "She Loves You" spent five weeks at number two, behind "I Want to Hold Your Hand", then replaced it for two weeks at number one beginning on 21 March. The Beatles are one of only two artists ever whose first two Hot 100 singles held the top two positions simultaneously on that chart. During its fifteen-week run on the American charts, "She Loves You" was joined by four other Beatles songs at the top five in the American charts and became part of the group setting several all-time records for the Hot 100. Billboard ranked the record as the No. 2 song of 1964, behind "I Want to Hold Your Hand," making the Beatles the second act to hold the top two year-end record positions since Elvis Presley did it in 1956 with "Heartbreak Hotel" and "Don't Be Cruel."
When Beatlemania reached the US, the record labels holding rights to Beatle songs re-released them in various combinations. Swan claimed to own the rights to "Sie Liebt Dich", the German version of "She Loves You", although they did not. On 21 May 1964, "Sie Liebt Dich" was released by Swan in the US, featuring "I'll Get You" on the B-side, just like the English language single. American consumers bought "Sie Liebt Dich" in quite modest numbers, leading to a chart peak at number 97 on 27 June.
"She Loves You" was included on Capitol Records' US album, The Beatles' Second Album, which overtook Meet the Beatles! on 2 May 1964, reaching the top spot in the album charts. It was the first time an artist had replaced themselves at the summit of the American album charts, and this provided a hint of the successes the Beatles would continue to achieve.
Unlike Capitol Records' reluctance to proceed with the Beatles in the U.S., Capitol of Canada went ahead with the group, and "She Loves You" was released there in September 1963. It was played by Ontario radio station CKWS the next month, and entered the national CHUM Chart on 2 December 1963. It reached the top five on 23 December, a full month before any Beatles single would do the same in the U.S. charts. It then spent nine weeks at number one in the early part of 1964.
"She Loves You" became the first Beatles record to sell well in continental Europe and led to a Beatles tour of Sweden in late October 1963. Prior to The Beatles' breakthrough with "She Loves You", British acts had only managed sporadic successes in continental European markets.
Cultural impact and legacy
"She Loves You" is the song that thrust the Beatles full-scale into the British national spotlight. Part of this was the effectiveness of the song's hook; author Eric Starr wrote in retrospect, "Each chorus or refrain pounds the hook into your head until it's imprinted in your brain." As Nicholas Schaffner later wrote, it was "'yeah, yeah, yeah' [was] chanted repeatedly and emphatically enough to drive any listener out of his mind, one way or the other."
Moreover, it became the signature phrase for the group at the time. The Daily Mirror 's approving editorial of 5 November 1963, following the Beatles' acclaimed appearance at the Royal Variety Performance the night before, was entitled "Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!" The New York Times ' lengthy article of 8 February 1964, describing the frenzy accompanying the group's arrival at John F. Kennedy International Airport and in New York City, made reference to "Yeah, yeah, yeah" in its first paragraph, continuation headline, and closing paragraph. An Associated Press story describing the positive critical reaction to the group's film A Hard Day's Night was headlined "'Yeah, Yeah, Yeah' For Beatles' Film" and labeled "She Loves You" as "the original 'Yeah, Yeah, Yeah,' song".
The phrase became synonymous not just with the Beatles but with the associated kind of popular music overall. A New York Times account describing the Animals' introductory concert in the city later that year repeated the phrase in description of the group.
In 1975, authors Roy Carr and Tony Tyler wrote in The Beatles: An Illustrated Record that "If a future archivist were to select one single tune to characterise the Beatles' appeal and the stylistic devices for which they became world famous, he would be forced to choose 'She Loves You'." In 1979, author Greil Marcus included "She Loves You" in his Stranded: Rock and Roll for a Desert Island list of essential rock records. Even more fundamentally, Marcus posed the question of what one would tell a Martian who landed and asked the meaning of rock and roll? The first answer would be "She Loves You".
The British establishment at that time found the refrain "yeah, yeah, yeah" controversial. National radio in the form of the BBC broadcast the single and "in some quarters it was seen to hail the collapse of civilised society".
As late as the mid-1970s, some countries in Southeast Asia were still putting out edicts that forbade Beatles haircuts and so-called "yeah, yeah, yeah music".
Walter Ulbricht, General Secretary of the Socialist Unity Party of Germany in the Communist German Democratic Republic, referenced the song in a famous speech about copying culture from the western world using the term "monotony of the yeah yeah yeah and whatever it is called".
British Prime Minister Alec Douglas-Home made a gaffe in February 1964: his speechwriters, trying to make him appear in touch with popular culture, wrote him the line, "I'm too modest to claim the country loves us, but you know that can't be bad." However, he appeared not to understand the reference, and actually said, "but you know, err, that can't be too bad."
In the Adam and the Ants song "Family of Noise" (from Dirk Wears White Sox), Adam Ant sings "she loves you yeah, yeah, yeah". It is unclear whether this is a homage or a piss take, as many punks dismissed the Beatles and the Stones at the height of the movement in the UK. However Ant's mother did work for the McCartneys, cleaning their home and Ant writes in his book (Stand & Deliver) of how "supportive" McCartney was to him and his mother.
On 27 July 2012, a portion of "She Loves You" as well as footage of the band performing the song was included in a montage of British music during the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Later Beatles use
"She Loves You" was sometimes played by the group during performances on the BBC, and one such recording is included on On Air – Live at the BBC Volume 2, released in 2013. A concert performance of the song, recorded at the Prince of Wales Theatre, London, on 4 November 1963, for the Royal Variety Performance, appeared in 1995 on Anthology 1.
"She Loves You" was a staple of the set list of early Beatles tours, but by late 1964 had been dropped in favour of newer songs and the other artists' material that remained in their show. It did not appear in the group's 1965 or 1966 concert performances.
The Beatles later sang the chorus of "She Loves You" in the long fade-out of "All You Need Is Love", and a carnival-styled organ version of the song is featured in their 1967 television film Magical Mystery Tour.
"She Loves You" was included in the Beatles compilation albums A Collection of Beatles Oldies (1966, Britain only), 1962–1966 (1973), 20 Greatest Hits (1982), Past Masters, Volume One (1988), and 1 (2000). The song was also included on the American promotional version of the Rarities album, issued as the bonus disc in the limited edition boxed set The Beatles Collection, in November 1978. The Capitol Records' US album, The Beatles' Second Album, on which the song had been featured, was included in the 2004 CD release The Capitol Albums, Volume 1 and rereleased in 2014, individually and in the boxed set The US Albums.
Paul McCartney sang "We love you, yeah, yeah, yeah" at the end of his duet with Stevie Wonder titled "What's That You're Doing?" from Tug of War. McCartney has not played the full song in any of his Wings or solo concert tours, but has replicated its use to end performances of "All You Need Is Love" during his 2011–2012 On the Run Tour.
Although no other act had a hit with "She Loves You", several released their own cover versions. American singer Neil Sedaka recorded it, as did comedians Peter Sellers and Ted Chippington. Chet Atkins released an instrumental interpretation on his 1966 album Chet Atkins Picks on the Beatles. Alvin and the Chipmunks covered the song for their 1964 album The Chipmunks Sing the Beatles Hits and again for their 1990 TV special and soundtrack Rockin' Through the Decades. The Johnny Mann Singers included the song on their 1964 album, "Beatle Ballads." At a number of Vertigo Tour shows, U2's Bono snippeted "She Loves You" into the end of "Vertigo" — a song that has a 'Yeah yeah yeah' outro. In 1987, Cher features the "She loves you/yeah, yeah, yeah" chorus and chord progression in the bridge of the track "Working Girl", from her self-titled album. Avantgarde band the Residents worked a sample of the "yeah yeah yeah" outro to their Beatles collage "Beyond the Valley of a Day in the Life".
- John Lennon – vocal, rhythm guitar
- Paul McCartney – vocal, bass
- George Harrison – harmony vocal, lead guitar
- Ringo Starr – drums
- George Martin – producer
- Norman Smith – engineer
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"Bad to Me" by Billy J. Kramer & the Dakotas
"You'll Never Walk Alone" by Gerry & The Pacemakers
|UK number-one single
12 September 1963 (four weeks)
28 November 1963 (two weeks)
"Do You Love Me" by Brian Poole and the Tremeloes
"I Want to Hold Your Hand" by the Beatles
"I Want to Hold Your Hand" by the Beatles
|Billboard Hot 100 number-one single
21 March 1964 (two weeks)
"Can't Buy Me Love" by the Beatles