Songs about Lesbians and Prostitutes

(No, I’m not trying to generate Google based traffic 🙂 This is just a refence to a 1966 article in Time magazine, which revealed the “hidden meaning” of “Norwegian Wood” and “Day Tripper”. Not.)

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Late 1965 was a typically hectic period in The Beatles’ lives. Having just come back from a long and tiring tour of USA, the group was soon ushered into the recording studio to produce yet anhother LP – their sixth in under three years! – even though the Help! LP had been out just two months. On top of that, the band also had a UK tour to complete, while recording. That the resulting LP – “Rubber Soul”- and it’s accompanying double A-sided, non-album single – “We Can Work It Out”/”Day Tripper” – rank among The Beatles’ finest works speaks volume for the lads’ ability to deliver the goods under pressure. Understandably this schedule left little time to compose songs for anyone else, but there were cover versions, as usual – plenty of them! A couple are of interest to us.

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“Michelle” had been around since the early 1960’s as a vaguely French sounding instrumental, with which Paul tried to impress the art school girls… With a desperate lack of new material, this ditty was turned into a real song, and became perhaps the most popular track on the LP, spawning two cover versions – both of which became UK top 20 hits! The Overlanders made # 15, while David & Jonathan got to #9. David & Jonathan (actually Roger Greenaway and Roger Cook) were old mates of The Beatles since the days the two had been members of the Kestrels (“There’s A Place”) on the Helen Shapiro tour of early 1963. Frankly I don’t know when their version was recorded, but with their Beatles connections – and producer George Martin – it’s been suggested that this number was “earmarked” for the duo before the LP’s release. Whatever the case David & Jonathan do a virtual note to note copy of the original recording, albeit sounding less bluesy and more MOR. Oh well, originality and soulfulness probably weren’t high on their agenda. “Michelle” can be found on every David & Jonathan CD you can find in your local supermarket’s “3 CDs for 3 $” bins – but if you have extra cash you might want to check out the five CD George Martin boxed set pictured below.

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While John and Paul had been producing hit after hit, George Harrison had been watching and learning the craft of song writing. His fifth recorded composition, “If I Needed Someone” is the first one to appear on this set of exclusives and “semi-exclusives”. The Hollies were one of the biggest bands of the 60’s with an impressive string of eight consecutive top 20hits already behind them – and much more to come. In theory George Harrison should have been proud when the Hollies decided to record If I Needed Someone”. Well, he wasn’t, publically calling the record “soulless” and adding that the group sounded like “session men”. In those days when a Beatle spoke, everybody listened and the song became a comparative flop, making “only” # 21. The angry Hollies replied that they only recorded the song because they were told that George had written it specially for them – and that there were better songs around! In a sense both parties were right. The Beatles’ record is made memorable by the wonderful three-part harmonies and the Byrds’ influenced 12-string guitars – the Hollies’ version suggests that the song itself wasn’t very strong, only The Beatles’ recording of it. Nevertheless, the Hollies version can be found on the excellent CD “The Hollies at Abbey Road 1963-1966”.

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Published in: on August 7, 2007 at 2:18 pm  Leave a Comment  

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