When The Beatles hit the airwaves as one of Britain’s hottest pop properties, they did so on the back of expert songwriting and a set of vocals that would leave most doo-wops bands wishing for more. Their harmonies and magnetic voices would lift the group to another echelon of pop music before they compounded their talent with a unique perspective on rock and roll. That said, as the band were deep in the throes of Beatlemania, they stayed true to form and delivered a heady concoction of intoxicating ballads.
One such ballad, ‘And I Love Her’, would not only be yet another moment of the Fab Four soundtracking the Saturday night slow dancing of an entire generation but what John Lennon would describe as Paul McCartney’s “first ‘Yesterday’“. Much of the sweetness found in the song can be decided by the audience in the delicately poised vocals. Below, we’ve got those vocal tracks isolated for a reminder of the sweet and soulful core of the band.
A Hard Day’s Night is arguably the band at their pop peak. Not only was it the title of their successful film but the accompanying soundtrack too. It highlighted that the group were firmly in the ascendancy, even if they were already fighting against anti-populists who demanded they be knocked down a peg or two. Speaking of writing for the album in 1964, Paul McCartney said: “These recent sessions in the studio have shown us one thing. It doesn’t get any easier. Already we’ve got the ‘knockers’ saying that we can’t get to number one again and that we must be running out of ideas. That’s where the pressure comes in.
“The fans are marvellous,” he continued, “But some of the others make it clear they’d like it if we had a flop. We worry much more now, and it seems that with every hit, it gets that bit tougher. But we’re pretty pleased with the material we’ve got out of it all… even if we finished one of the songs literally as we were getting ready to make a recording of it.” One such song was ‘And I Love Her’, a track credited to Lennon-McCartney but chaired by the latter.
However, as with every song written at that time, recording ‘And I Love Her’ was very much a partnership. “Sometimes maybe he (John) will write a whole song himself, or I will,” confirmed McCartney in 1964. “But we always say that we’ve both written it. Sometimes the lyric does come first, sometimes the tune — sometimes both together. Sometimes he’ll do one line; sometimes I’ll do one line. It’s very varied.”
For Lennon, however, this song, in particular, landed a little more heavily than usual, as he told David Sheff in 1980: “‘And I Love Her’ is Paul again. I consider it his first ‘Yesterday’. You know, the big ballad in A Hard Day’s Night. The middle eight, I helped with that.” While McCartney once called the track “just a love song,” with time, the gravity of the piece clearly became apparent.
“It was the first ballad I impressed myself with,” he told Barry Miles for Many Years From Now. “It’s got nice chords in it, ‘Bright are the stars that shine, dark is the sky…’ I like the imagery of the stars and the sky. It was a love song, really. The ‘And’ in the title was an important thing. ‘And I Love Her,’ it came right out of leftfield; you were right up to speed the minute you heard it. The title comes in the second verse, and it doesn’t repeat. You would often go to town on the title, but this was almost an aside, ‘Oh… and I love you.’ It still holds up, and George played really good guitar on it. It worked very well.”
While Harrison may well have impressed with his guitar work on the track, there’s no doubt that the song hangs on the vocals of The Beatles. Belting out a pop ballad with the tender tones heard below is what made The Beatles a force to be reckoned with. It’s refreshing then to listen to a song like ‘And I Love Her’ via the isolated vocals only and allow ourselves to get lost in what it must’ve been like to be a teenager in the sixties.