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Music

Playlist: Every song covered by The Beatles

@TomTaylorFO

With a band as big as The Beatles you almost need Professor Brian Cox at hand to explain that there was a time when they were, in fact, just starting out like every other act. When they performed for the first time at The Cavern Club in Liverpool on February 9th, 1961, George Harrison was almost turned away from the venue for wearing blue jeans. Five years later he was famously bigger than Jesus and could stride around in any pants he wanted to.

It is quite remarkable that only three years after that opening Cavern Club show the band were appearing on The Ed Sullivan Show, and as Paul McCartney recalls, a floor manager asked him if he was nervous and he said no, to which the manager replied: “You should be, there’s 73 million people watching.” Their rise to the top was meteoric in every sense. It had only been a matter of years since they started and now they were reaching a global audience larger than any other humans in history.  

The musical explosion of the 1960s came in a whirlwind that proved oddly insulting for the band. “You’d be going along making new music, developing The Beatles, enjoying the development from being a little covers band through to writing simple songs, through to writing complex songs, so that was the main thing that was going on. It genuinely made you feel. The general climate was that this was good—this was a good time, the ‘60s, but there would be spikes,” Paul McCartney recalled recently on the Adam Buxton podcast.

That development from being a covers band to the whole thing being all over was just about a decade. Thus, it comes as little surprise that the ‘Fab Four’ dished out plenty of interpretations in their time. Stirred up by the blues, jazz and everything else that happened before them, they keenly brought their own skiffle sensibilities to the sound .

As you can tell from the list below, that involved a hell of a lot of Chuck Berry, Little Richard and Carl Perkins. In fact, John Lennon even once remarked: “If you to give rock ‘n’ roll another name, you might call it Chuck Berry.”

Speaking with Rolling Stone, McCartney was likewise full of admiration for the forefather of rock: “We learnt so many things from him which led us into a dream world of rock & roll music.” Though he confirmed that it was “not really possible to sum up what he meant to all us young guys growing up in Liverpool,” Macca delivered a fitting eulogy for the influential guitarist and songwriter. “From the first minute we heard the great guitar intro to ‘Sweet Little Sixteen,’ we became fans of the great Chuck Berry,” continued McCartney. “His stories were more like poems than lyrics – the likes of ‘Johnny B. Goode’ or ‘Maybellene.’”

The flip side of this is that The Beatles also found themselves accused of ripping off the work of black musicians. Lennon, however, was quick to address that subject and famously stated: “It wasn’t a rip off, it was a love in.” With this love in, they layered blues music with their own unique touches and soon the arrival of stereo sound would spin them out in an entirely new direction.

Nevertheless, the list of their recorded covers proves a fascinating thing to look at. Over the course of the list you can see inspirations and influences on their sound and how truly eclectic their uptake was. We’ve collated all of the songs that they recorded, but the list of the live versions would be as long as a Roman road. Enjoy…

Every song The Beatles covered:

  • ‘A Shot of Rhythm and Blues’ by Arthur Alexander
  • ‘A Taste of Honey’ by Bobby Scott
  • ‘Act Naturally’ by Buck Owens
  • ‘Ain’t She Sweet’ by Milton Ager
  • ‘Anna (Go to Him)’ by Arthur Alexander
  • ‘Baby It’s You’ by The Shirelles
  • ‘Bad Boy’ by Larry Williams
  • ‘Beautiful Dreamer’ by Tony Orlando
  • ‘Besame Mucho’ by Consuelo Velázquez
  • ‘Boys’ by The Shirelles
  • ‘Carol’ by Chuck Berry
  • ‘Chains’ by The Crookies
  • ‘Clarabella’ by The Jodimars
  • ‘Crying, Waiting, Hoping’ by Buddy Holly
  • ‘Devil in his Heart’ by The Donays
  • ‘Dizzy Miss Lizzy’ by Larry Williams
  • ‘Don’t Ever Change’ by The Crickets
  • ‘Everybody’s Trying to be My Baby’ by Carl Perkins
  • ‘Glad All Over’ by Carl Perkins
  • ‘Hallelujah, I Love Her So’ by Ray Charles
  • ‘Honey Don’t’ by Carl Perkins
  • ‘How Do You Do It?’ by Gerry & The Pacemakers
  • ‘I Forgot to Remember to Forget’ by Elvis Presley
  • ‘I Got a Woman’ by Ray Charles
  • ‘I Got to Find My Baby’ by Chuck Berry
  • ‘I Just Don’t Understand’ by Ann-Marget
  • ‘I’m Gonna Sit Right Down and Cry (Over You)’ by Roy Hamilton
  • ‘I’m Talking About You’ by Chuck Berry
  • ‘Johnny B. Goode’ by Chuck Berry
  • ‘Kansas City’ by Little Willie Littlefield
  • ‘Keep Your Hands off My Baby’ by Little Eva
  • ‘Leave My Kitten Alone’ by Little Willie John
  • ‘Lend Me Your Comb’ by Carl Perkins
  • ‘Lonesome Tears in My Eyes’ by Johnny Burnette & The Rock ‘n’ Roll Trio
  • ‘Long Tall Sally’ by Little Richard
  • ‘Lucille’ by Little Richard
  • ‘Mailman Bring Me No More Blues’ by Buddy Holly
  • ‘Matchbox’ by Carl Perkins
  • ‘Memphis, Tennessee’ by Chuck Berry
  • ‘Money (That’s What I Want)’ by Barrett Strong
  • ‘Mr. Moonlight’ by Dr Feelgood
  • ‘Nothin’ Shakin’’ by Eddie Fontaine
  • ‘Ooh My Soul’ by Little Richard
  • ‘Please Mr Postman’ by The Marvelettes
  • ‘Rip It Up’ by Little Richard
  • ‘Rock and Roll Music’ by Chuck Berry
  • ‘Roll Over Beethoven’ by Chuck Berry
  • ‘Searchin’’ by The Coasters
  • ‘Shout’ by The Isley Brothers
  • ‘Slow Down’ by Larry Williams
  • ‘So How Come (No One Loves Me)’ by The Everly Brothers
  • ‘Soldier of Love’ by Arthur Alexander
  • ‘Some other Guys’ Richie Barrett
  • ‘Sure to Fall’ by Carl Perkins
  • ‘Sweet Little Sixteen’ by Chuck Berry
  • ‘That’ll Be the Day’ by Buddy Holly & The Crickets
  • ‘That’s All Right Mama’ by Elvis Presley
  • ‘The Hippy Hippy Shake’ by Chan Romero
  • ‘The Honeymoon Song’ by Mikis Theodorakis, Vassilis Saleas
  • ‘The Sheik of Araby’ by Fats Waller
  • ‘Three Cool Cats’ by The Coasters
  • ‘Till There Was You’ by Sue Raney
  • ‘To Know Him is to Love Him’ by The Teddy Bears
  • ‘Too Much Monkey Business’ by Chuck Berry
  • ‘Twist and Shout’ by The Top Notes
  • ‘Words of Love’ by Buddy Holly
  • ‘You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me’ by Smokey Robinson & The Miracles
  • ‘Young Blood’ by The Coasters

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