Day 1: “12-Bar Original”

When was it recorded?  Nov. 4, 1965

When was it first released, and on which album?  Mar. 18, 1996 on “Anthology 2”

Who wrote it?  Harrison/Lennon/McCartney/Starkey

Have I heard this song before?  No

What my research dug up:

“12-Bar Original” was the Beatles’ first instrumental after signing for EMI and was produced by George Martin at EMI’s Abbey Road Studios, London.  Cited as “an attempt” at an R&B or soul recording, the online Beatles Bible notes the tune is loosely based on “Green Onions,” a blues track recorded by Booker T and the MGs and released in 1962.

“12-Bar” is also one of the few songs credited to all four members of the group (seriously, there are maybe three or four songs they all wrote together).  It was recorded during the sessions for their “Rubber Soul” album, possibly as filler material.

My search also yielded a page for lyrics, which amused me since the song is instrumental.

Now according to Wikipedia, the song is 2:54 long.  I made the mistake of looking for the song on YouTube before doing my research and got confused because some version of the song are around three minutes long, but other videos were closer to six or seven minutes long.  Fortunately, Wikipedia also says the “Anthology 2” version is edited down from 6:42 of the Beatles’ second take.

Here’s the short version:

Here’s the long version (with an outtake or two):

Ultimately, I can see why it got cut from “Rubber Soul” (and any other release after that as well).  The song isn’t bad by any means, but it’s not great either.  It’s a steady jam that made for good background music while I reorganized my music collection.

Since the comparison was made, I tracked down and listened to “Green Onions” too.  It turned out to be one of those songs I didn’t know I knew, but once I hit play I said to myself, “oh, that’s this song.”  “Green Onions” does sound similar to “12-Bar Original” but in my opinion is done a lot better.  Maybe the Beatles needed to kick the tempo up a notch a la Booker T & co.



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