Beatles – I Want To Hold Your Hand

This helped start the modern rock era. No British rock act had dominated in America before the Beatles. Cliff Richard had tried and failed but with this song and an appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show…The Beatles kicked down the door and started the British Invasion and the Stones, Kinks, and Who would soon follow.

Rock and Roll can be divided up into two eras… pre Beatles and post Beatles. Everything would change after this. I bought an amp from a long time country studio  musician and he told me that the day after he heard this on Ed Sullivan the world changed. Not just music but everything…music, thoughts, aspirations, and hair of course. Within weeks of this song hitting number 1 there were bands forming in every neighborhood in America.  Guitars were bought, hair lengths were being tested, and a huge urge to learn everything British.

I always hold this song up to why vinyl is the way to listen to some records at times. All the CD versions I’ve heard of this song sound rather flat…when I hear the 45 vinyl single the song jumps out at you. It changes the whole dynamic of the song. After hearing the single the way it was meant to be heard… you can see why this song changed a lot of things. It was maybe the most important single they ever released…it may have had the biggest impact at least in America.

It is said that John and Paul wrote this with an America’s sound in mind. They must have guessed right. This song preceded the Beatles trip here at number 1. Lennon liked the melody so much that he talked about doing something with it again til his death.

This was played on the Washington, DC radio station WWDC before it was released in America by a DJ named Carroll Baker, who got the record from a stewardess. It was a huge hit with his listeners and prompted Capitol Records to release the song ahead of schedule – they planned to issue it on January 13, 1964.

The Beatles were in Paris and celebrated madly when they found out they were #1 in America. They came to America for the first time on February 7, 1964, greeted at the airport by screaming fans. “I Want To Hold Your Hand” was the #1 song in the country at that time, and it stayed on top for seven weeks, until their next single, the re-released “She Loves You,” replaced it.

Bob Dylan thought the line “I can’t hide” was “I get high,” and a reference to marijuana. He was surprised to learn they had never tried pot, and became part of Beatles lore when he introduced them to it.

At times John Lennon realized the crowds The Beatles played to were so loud they really couldn’t hear them sing, so sometimes instead of singing the line, “I want to hold your hand,” he would say, “I want to hold your gland” as a reference to women’s breasts…and people wonder why Lennon is my favorite Beatle!

The song peaked at #1 in the Billboard 100, Canada, UK, New Zealand, and probably on Mars also in 1964.

 

From Songfacts

This was the first Beatles song to catch on in America. In 1963, the Beatles became stars in England, but couldn’t break through in the US. They couldn’t get a major label to distribute their singles in America, so their first three singles there, “Please Please Me,” “From Me to You” and “She Loves You,” were issued on small labels and flopped, even though they were hits in England.

Late in 1963, American news outlets started reporting on this British sensation, and interest in the group started to rise. Capitol Records took notice and released “I Want To Hold Your Hand” Stateside on December 26. The song rose up the chart, and on February 1, 1964, hit #1. It sold better in the first 10 days of release in the US than any other British single, and remains the best-selling Beatles single in the United States, moving over 12 million copies.

Conquering the US was, and still is, a big deal for British bands. Many groups that are huge in the UK (Oasis, Blur) never really catch on in America.
• John Lennon and Paul McCartney wrote this in Jane Asher’s basement. Asher was an actress who became Paul’s first high-profile girlfriend. After appearing in several movies, TV shows and stage productions, Asher became an authority on baking, and has her own business selling party cakes and supplying baking and decorating equipment. She and Paul broke up in 1968.

Jane had a brother named Pete Asher who teamed up with Gordon Waller to form the duo Peter & Gordon; McCartney wrote their hit single “A World Without Love.” Pete recalled in a 2010 interview with Gibson.com the two Beatles penning this song at his home: “My mother had a practice room that she used to give private oboe lessons when she wasn’t teaching at The Royal Academy, where she was a professor. There was just a piano, and an upright chair and a sofa. Paul used that room to write in, from time to time. One afternoon John came over, while I was upstairs in my room. The two of them were in the basement for an hour or so, and Paul called me down to listen to a song they had just finished. I went downstairs and sat on the sofa, and they sat side by side, on the piano bench. That’s where they played ‘I Want to Hold Your Hand’ for the first anywhere. They asked me what I thought. I said, ‘I think it’s very good.'” [laughs]

The Beatles performed this on their first two Ed Sullivan Show appearances, which took place February 9 and 16, 1964. There was already a media frenzy around The Beatles, which was amplified when millions saw them on Sullivan’s show. The Beatles were booked for the show before they had a hit in the US, so they actually got paid less than many other guests for their appearance.

• This was one of John Lennon’s favorite Beatles songs. It starts with a falling melody, which is typical of Lennon’s songwriting, and ends with a cadence with a quarter-interval: “I’ll think you’ll understand.” That quarter-interval cadence you can even hear in Lennon’s first bit of “From Me to You” and in “Tomorrow Never Knows.” McCartney most often uses second-intervals. Also typically Lennon is the sudden octave-run, “Haaaaand…” The same octave-run you can hear in the end of the middle part in Lennon’s “Please Please Me”: “To reason with youuuuuu…” Also note that the beginning of the melody in the middle part is almost the same melody as the beginning of the middle part in “Don’t Let Me Down.” 

Two parody groups made answer songs to this in 1964: “I’ll Let You Hold My Hand” by The Bootles and “Yes, You Can Hold My Hand” by The Beatlettes.

This was the first Beatles song recorded on 4-track equipment. Some of their first songs were in mono.

The Beatles also cut a German version called “Komm Gib Mir Deine Hand.” They picked up some German while playing The Star Club in Hamburg in 1962.

In the 1960s it wasn’t uncommon for British stars to record new versions of their hits in other languages. The idea was to increase airplay on continental stations and to get a hit before an indigenous artist recorded a version in the local tongue. On January 29, 1964, The Beatles went into the Pathé & Marconi Studios in Paris and recorded “I Want To Hold Your Hand” and “She Loves You” (“Sie Liebt Dich”) in German. The lyrics had been hurriedly translated by a Luxembourger named Camillo Felgen, who was then a program director at Radio Luxembourg. As well, apart from their recording of “My Bonnie” in the early ’60s, this was the only time The Beatles recorded in another language. In addition it was the sole occasion on which they recorded outside London.

When this hit #1 in the US, it was the first time a British group topped the chart there since 1962, when “Telstar” by The Tornados did it. Until The Beatles came along, most British groups that had hits in America came and went pretty quickly. The Beatles kicked off the British Invasion, leading to a lengthy occupation on the charts for acts like The Rolling Stones, The Kinks and The Who as well as The Beatles.

It was the youth who discovered The Beatles, and while young people can be easily manipulated through hype and image, in the case of The Beatles it was the music that drew them in. An American girl Sanda Stewart, 15 years old in spring 1964 (according to Hunter Davies in his book Beatles) said: “I was one day in a shop with my mother when I suddenly heard ‘I Want to Hold Your Hand’ on the car radio. Such a special sound! I could never stop thinking about it. No song has effected me on that way. Several other girls in school had reacted in the same way. We saw the Beatles on photos and thought they were ugly. But their music was fantastic.”

This song was used in the movie Across the Universe at a much slower tempo. 

A fairly straightforward and simple Beatles song, this one still has some musical complexity that foreshadowed what was to come. “The middle eight of that does something,” Tony Banks of Genesis explained. “The way the key changes at that point is something I hadn’t heard before.”

I Want To Hold Your Hand

Oh yeah, I’ll tell you somethin’
I think you’ll understand
When I say that somethin’
I want to hold your hand
I want to hold your hand
I want to hold your hand

Oh please, say to me
You’ll let me be your man
And please, say to me
You’ll let me hold your hand
Now, let me hold your hand
I want to hold your hand

And when I touch you
I feel happy inside
It’s such a feelin’ that my love
I can’t hide
I can’t hide
I can’t hide

Yeah, you got that somethin’
I think you’ll understand
When I say that somethin’
I want to hold your hand
I want to hold your hand
I want to hold your hand

And when I touch you
I feel happy inside
It’s such a feelin’ that my love
I can’t hide
I can’t hide
I can’t hide

Yeah, you got that somethin’
I think you’ll understand
When I feel that somethin’
I want to hold your hand
I want to hold your hand
I want to hold your hand
I want to hold your hand

 

 

Author: badfinger20 (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

30 thoughts on “Beatles – I Want To Hold Your Hand”

  1. This was the first Beatles record I bought and I think I may still have the single! I’ve nothing to play vinyl records on at the moment but you’re quite right about the sound quality being better on the vinyl.

    Off topic: I’ve only a few days left to go with my blog, Max. After that it might be about a month before I comment here again as I’ll be deleting my wp account too and it takes about a month for them to purge their systems of associated email addresses. If necessary I’ll get a different email, but I’ll see how it goes.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Let me jump on there Val…I thought it was gone by now. I like the pictures…and how they are alive when you are done.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. You’re right about the importance of the song and the Beatles in that year… looking back on it (a song released before I was born) nearly 60 years on, it sounds,”Meh”, rather pedestrian. BUT at the time, wow, it must’ve blown their minds. And I’ve lost track of how many artists I’ve read about who are now in their 60s mostly who said the moment they knew they wanted to be musicians was when they saw the Beatles on Ed Sullivan the first time.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Listening to the vinyl copy of it is special. It makes it really exciting…
      This is a melody that holds up to some of their later ones…the melody is falling in parts…they would use that again.

      Like

  3. Before this song came out, when I was 9 years old, there’d been many I loved, including “Theme From ‘A Summer Place'”, “Save the Last Dance For Me”, “End of the World”, “Sherry”, “Sugar Shack”, “He’s a Rebel” and “It’s My Party”, to name a few off the top of my head. But like many millions of kids and teenagers, I fell head over heels in love with The Beatles upon hearing this song, and their album “Meet the Beatles” (released as “With the Beatles” in the UK) was my very first album purchase as a 9-year-old kid. Now, years later, I think “She Loves You” is a better song, but I’ll always have a special affection for “I Want to Hold Your Hand”.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It seems like She Loves You did to the UK what I Want To Hold Your Hand did to America.
      Funny enough…the first Beatle album I had access to…11 years after it came out…was Meet The Beatles and I played this one and “It Won’t Be Long” constantly…a month or so later I would buy my first Beatle album.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Funny, “I want to hold your gland.” I think this is the first time I’ve seen you say that Lennon is your favorite Beatle. You and Hans are peas in a pod. He definitely seems like the rebel of the bunch. This is a wonderful song and remember when it was the big sensational hit, even as a small child. I have mentioned this before but I played the grooves off of that LP on my little record player as a kid and stared at the album cover while listening.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yea something about Lennon that I like…that doesn’t mean I don’t like the others any less. He was…like Keith Richards…the alpha male of the band for sure.

      Funny enough it was my first exposure to the Beatles…wasn’t my album but 11 years after it was released I was on top of it. This song and “It Won’t Be Long.” I can’t imagine the impact it had after President Kennedy was killed.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I knew what you meant before the Beatles and after the Beatles began being post Beatles, not after the Beatles broke up. I was just teasing, because that would have meant three eras.

        Like

  5. Oh, yeah. Early stuff. Too cool.

    Digital has no soul. Vinyl has the texture. Analog has layers. Digital is flat and cold. I know vinyl is making a comeback but, they are taking digital music and putting it on vinyl. It’s still soulless.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This single makes a HUGE difference on vinyl. It jumps through the speaker at you in a narrow way…like a knife

      Like

  6. My dad bought this single, and Can’t Buy Me Love, so both are big parts of my childhood. It’s an exciting record, I can see why it was a kick in the arse in pop music, especially in the USA post-Kennedy-assassination. The “Love” shortened version with screaming crowds give a good feel of the impact I think.

    It’s a strong song, it can cope with very different interpretations, like Sparks, or the UK hit version by Dollar in 1979/1980, a boy-girl pop duo who did an unexpectedly good update 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. The melody and sound were different than most other songs that were out at the time. The biggest thing to me was the bridge with the minor chords…that wasn’t done much at that time.
      It sure kicked it off over here.

      Liked by 2 people

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