All the Songs: The Story Behind Every Beatles Release
Musical historians Phillippe Margotin and Jean-Michel Guesdon delve deep into the history and musical origins of every Beatles album, recounting the circumstances that led to the composition of each song, the recording process and the instruments used. This intimate and revealing look at the music of The Beatles draws on decades of research. For example, readers learn that one of John Lennon's favourite guitars was a 1958 Rickenbacker 325 Capri, which he bought for GBP100 in 1960 in Hamburg. He had it painted black and used it on the Ed Sullivan Show and in the Hollywood Bowl concerts. It now belongs to his son Sean. Readers will also get an inside look at each song's recording. Love Me Do was recorded in Abbey Road Studios in September 1962. The song took 18 takes to get right, though it was one of the first songs John and Paul had written together. John was originally supposed to sing lead vocals, but when George Martin suggested adding a harmonica, Paul took over as lead. Stories of performances are also included throughout, like when the Beatles played I Want to Hold Your Hand on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1964, John's microphone wasn't turned on, so viewers only heard Paul singing. Hundreds of photographs range from rare black-and-white publicity stills to images of Beatles instruments to intimate shots of the musicians in the studios.
Since they burst onto the scene 50 years ago, millions of words have been written about every aspect of the Beatles' music and career, from books aimed at teenage female fans to scholarly works deconstructing "The White Album." Now comes "All the Songs: The Story Behind Every Beatles Release," an exhaustive tome that gives the inside scoop on every song on every album from their debut, "Please Please Me," to their swan song, "Abbey Road," as well as all the singles, EPs and B-sides they produced between 1963 and 1970. The book, which is arranged chronologically, is a collaboration between French music writer Philippe Margotin, who has penned books on U2 and the Rolling Stones, and musician Jean-Michel Guesdon, who has spent 30 years collecting information about the Fab Four. "All the Songs" is a trove of trivia for even the most ardent Beatles fan, featuring facts ranging from who played which instrument on each song to when and where each song was recorded. Margotin and Guesdon also include how many takes each song required as well as who was in the studio when the songs were recorded. While many of the stories behind the songs will be familiar to Beatles fans ? the classic "Yesterday" originally was titled "Scambled Eggs," the title for "A Hard Day's Night" came from a Ringo Starr malapropism, Eric Clapton played the blistering guitar solo on "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" ? there are plenty of others that are obscure enough to keep fans reading. Among some of the more interesting revelations: ? Several of the songs on "Help!" ? "You're Going to Lose that Girl," "Ticket to Ride" and "Yesterday" ? required only two takes, while the band got "Another Girl" right on the very first one. In contrast, the album's title tune took 12 takes while the band's cover of the Buck Owens' "Act Naturally" needed 13. ? Paul McCartney wrote the ballad "Michelle" when he was a student at the Liverpool Institute of Art, inserting French phrases into the song as a ploy to attract women. ? Members of Pink Floyd, who were recording their first LP "The Piper at the Gates of Dawn" at Abbey Road studios at the same time the Beatles were recording "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band," sat in the control room while the Beatles mixed the song "Lovely Rita" in March 1967. ? There is a discernable burst of profanity at the 2:59 mark in the song "Hey Jude," although there is disagreement about whether it was uttered by John Lennon or McCartney. ? One of Lennon's favorite guitars was a 1958 Rickenbacker Capri, which he bought on a whim for about $150 when the Beatles were cutting their musical chops in Hamburg, Germany, in 1960. He played the guitar, which he had repainted black, on "The Ed Sullivan Show" and used it in the studio until 1965. His widow, Yoko Ono, said he also used it on "Double Fantasy," the last album Lennon recorded before his death in 1980. In addition to the stories behind the songs, the book also contains hundreds of photos from all phases of the Beatles' career, many of them rarely seen. Added together, "All the Songs: The Story Behind Every Beatles Release" is an engaging journey through the band's canon that should easily satisfy both casual and die-hard fans.