The annals of rock history are always throwing up a few surprises, whereby our retrospective view on things doesn’t actually play out with reality. For instance, The Beatles are now so universally beloved that it’s nearly impossible to imagine them as anything other than the universal rock ‘n’ roll favourites.
It is a baffling truth that upon the initial release of ‘She Loves You’ in the US, the song simply wasn’t taken to in the same way that it was in the UK. In fact, the Fab Four were struggling for notoriety outside of the British Isles full stop, and Swan Records were the only label willing to put out the single in the States.
However, all that being said, the song is one that many students of the band point to as the tipping point for the forthcoming rise of Beatlemania. Not only was it a huge hit in their native parts, but it also represented a slight development in the group’s songwriting style. As Paul McCartney told Barry Miles: “It was again a she, you, me, I, personal preposition song. I suppose the most interesting thing about it was that it was a message song, it was someone bringing a message. It wasn’t us anymore, it was moving off the ‘I love you, girl’ or ‘Love me do’, it was a third person, which was a shift away. ‘I saw her, and she said to me, to tell you, that she loves you, so there’s a little distance we managed to put in it which was quite interesting.”
Aside from this original twist to their rock ‘n’ roll ways, the song’s harmonies, inspired by the Everly Brothers’ 1961 cover of ‘Temptation’ which featuring the recurring refrain of “yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah,” showed a musical progression too. The perfectly in sync vocal take exhibited the unique cohesion among the band that helped to propel them as a force that transcended the music.
Despite the monumental rise that the song set in place, it had very humble beginnings. As Paul McCartney explains in Anthology: “John and I wrote ‘She Loves You’ together. There was a Bobby Rydell song [‘Forget Him’] out at the time and, as often happens, you think of one song when you write another. We were in a van up in Newcastle. I’d planned an ‘answering song’ where a couple of us would sing ‘She loves you…’ and the other one answers, ‘Yeah, yeah.’ We decided that that was a crummy idea as it was, but at least we then had the idea for a song called ‘She Loves You’. So we sat in the hotel bedroom for a few hours and wrote it.”
They then took the bare bones of the song back home to Macca’s family living room where they developed it into the finished thing. “We sat in there one evening,” McCartney recalled, “just beavering away while my dad was watching TV and smoking his Players cigarettes, and we wrote ‘She Loves You’. We actually finished it there because we’d started it in the hotel room.”
Adding: “We went into the living room – ‘Dad, listen to this. What do you think?” So we played it to my dad and he said, ‘That’s very nice, son, but there’s enough of these Americanisms around. Couldn’t you sing, “She loves you. Yes! Yes! Yes!”‘ At which point we collapsed in a heap and said, ‘No, Dad, you don’t quite get it!’ That’s my classic story about my dad. For a working-class guy that was rather a middle-class thing to say, really. But he was like that.”
Now the song resides as the sort of ubiquitous classic that has woven its way into the tapestry of culture and become etched as a fixture in our lives. As the remarkable isolated vocals below attest, the song is one of the rarefied few where every note let alone every lyric is traceable in the consciousness of every listener.