It’s fair to say, even the most moderate of Beatles fans would not have expected to listen to bluegrass, the twanging country soundtrack of America’s Deep South, version of The Beatles’ classic ‘Can’t Buy Me Love’ today. But the world’s a crazy place and Paul McCartney is even stranger, so here you go, the 1992 anomaly you never knew you needed.
The original Beatles gem featured on The Beatles’ brilliant A Hard Day’s Night and was a guaranteed scream-starter for any teenage audience. But while the 1964 release was based on the new Merseybeat rock and roll sound that was sweeping the nation, this rarely heard 1992 bluegrass version is something entirely different.
‘Can’t Buy Me Love’ was the Fab Four’s sixth single and part of a string of successful tracks which established Beatlemania on both sides of the pond. Composed by Macca on stand-up piano, George Martin wasn’t sure of the song’s potential when he first heard it.
“I thought that we really needed a tag for the song’s ending, and a tag for the beginning; a kind of intro,” said the legendary producer. “So I took the first two lines of the chorus and changed the ending, and said ‘Let’s just have these lines, and by altering the second phrase we can get back into the verse pretty quickly.'” And they said, “That’s not a bad idea, we’ll do it that way”.
It has since become a staple of the group’s iconography and saw The Beatles beginning to experiment with what would become a mainstay of their music — the over-dub.
A perfect example is on George Harrison’s guitar solo, “What happened was, we recorded first in Paris and re-recorded in England,” said Harrison. “Obviously they’d tried to overdub it, but in those days they only had two tracks, so you can hear the version we put on in London, and in the background you can hear a quieter one.”
Back to 1992, with Macca fully immersed in his solo career but he was still keen to doff his cap to the past. Performed by McCartney and his band at the first-ever concert at the Ed Sullivan theatre for MTV’s ‘Up Close’, the song takes on a whole new attitude with the addition of the banjo and the backup vocals. It changes the complexion of the track and creates a brand new dimension to an old classic.
Filmed on 10th December the footage below also has a small sample of a bluegrass version of ‘Jingle Bells’, which is amply pleasing, but soon ascends into a full on Beatles Barndance, full to the brim with knee-slapping good fun and foot-stomping nostalgia.
Watch below as Paul McCartney performs a Bluegrass version of The Beatles’ classic ‘Can’t Buy Me Love’