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On June 6, 1962, The Beatles had their first recording session at the historical EMI studios at Abbey Road, London, a session which ended up changing music and popular history forever. Abbey Road has become a cornerstone for every Beatles fan, and for most music fans in general. The zebra crossing of the road, portrayed on the cover of the Beatles’ 11th studio album ‘Abbey Road’ with the band members walking on them, has become the target of millions of photo shoots.
On June 6, 1962 though, the Beatles crossed Abbey Road merely as aspiring musicians with a dream in a drawer. Pete Best served as drummer for the band at the time; Ringo Starr joined John Lennon, Paul McCartney, and George Harrison, substituting Best, later that summer.
The session, started at 7:00 pm lasting until 10:00 p.m., and served both as an audition and as a proper recording session for the band. It was produced by George Martin with assistant Ron Richards. The band recorded four demos: ‘Besame Mucho’, ‘Love Me Do’, ‘PS I Love You’ and ‘Ask Me Why’. The original recordings of ‘Besame Mucho’ and ‘Love Me Do’ appear in the ‘Anthology 1’ album, released in 1995.
Producer Norman Smith told Mark Lewisohn about the session. “We gave them a long lecture about their equipment and what would have to be done about it if they were to become recording artists. They didn’t say a word hack, not a word, they didn’t even nod their heads in agreement. When he finished, George said ‘Look, I’ve laid into you for quite a time, you haven’t responded. Is there anything you don’t like?’
I remember they all looked at each other for a long while, shuffling their feet, then George Harrison took a long look at George and said ‘Yeah, I don’t like your tie!’ That cracked the ice for us and for the next 15-20 minutes they were pure entertainment. When they left to go home George and I just sat there saying ‘Phew! What do you think of that lot then?’ I had tears running down my face.” The tale was originally reported in the book ’The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions,’ first published in 1988.
On October 5, 1962, the very first single by The Beatles ‘Love Me Do’ was released. After few months, the Beatlemania started in the U.K. and Europe, spreading soon to the U.S..
Liverpool, where the band places its roots, is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the band’s career, with several music and film related events, which will go on until the end of the year. A list of events is available here.
Toonari Post will celebrate the 50-year anniversary with a series of articles about the Beatles. Today, we want to start proposing a selection of ten of the most beautiful and relevant tracks recorded by the band. Although it is impossible to narrow the genius of the Beatles to only ten songs, this is our way to celebrate this day and the band, through their music itself.
A very dark track, dealing with themes like death and depression. Extremely intriguing, it marked the band’s move from the more pop-oriented usual sounds to a more experimental approach.
We Can Work It Out
An extremely catchy song, later covered by personalities such as Stevie Wonder and Deep Purple. A love song, reflecting both, the hope for a resolution and the exhaustion due to the incomprehension in the relationship.
Let It Be
The last single before the announcement that Paul McCartney would leave the band, after the departure of John Lennon. A life lesson, a very deep and sensitive track that McCartney said to have composed after dreaming about his dead mother (“Mother Mary”). According to McCartney, his mother told him in the dream “It will be all right, just let it be.”
A seven minute long track, the longest single ever to top the British charts at the time. Born as ‘Hey Jules,’ it is a song about overcoming a tough moment in life, having the strength to actively transform it. It was written by McCartney, originally inspired by the willingness to comfort John Lennon’s son, Julian, through the divorce of his parents.
Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
One of the best intros to an album ever made. Catchy, powerful, funny and involving. It gives the proper feeling of a live performance, even if the album is not a live album. It is the greetings to the listeners, an introduction to the fictional band playing. It appears twice on the album of the same title, as the opening track and as the second to last track, as it served both as a hello and a goodbye track. The second version is faster and heavier than the first one. It has been covered by many artists, including Jimi Hendrix.
With a Little Help From My Friends
Written by McCartney and Lennon for the drummer Ringo Starr, who sings the track, it deals with love and friendship. Almost a lullaby, it is sometimes constructed as a conversation between the other three Beatles, who make questions, and Starr, who answers.
While My Guitar Gently Weeps
The song was written and performed by George Harrison, who said about the inspiration for the song “seemed to me to be based on the Eastern concept that everything is relative to everything else… opposed to the Western view that things are merely coincidental.” and again “The Eastern concept is that whatever happens is all meant to be, and that there’s no such thing as coincidence.”
One of the most covered songs in music history; it is in the song that pops up in most people’s mind when thinking about The Beatles. McCartney composed the melody in a dream, and once awakened rushed to the piano not to forget it. After making sure it was not the result of an unconscious plagiarism, he started working on the lyrics. The result is magnificent.
Love Me Do
The first single ever released by The Beatles, on October 5, 1962. The B-side was ‘P.S. I Love You.’ The track was firstly recorded at the infamous Abbey Road session on June 6, 1962, featuring Pete Best as drummer. Very catchy, it gives a good sense of The Beatles’ musical attitude.
Here Comes The Sun
Written and sung by George Harrison, it is contained in the infamous ‘Abbey Road’ album, released in 1969. A hopeful song, written during a tough time for Harrison.
Image Courtesy of The Beatles