Day 12: “Anna (Go to Him)”

When was it recorded?  Feb. 11, 1963

When was it first released, and on which album?  Mar. 22, 1963 on “Please Please Me”

Who wrote it?  Arthur Alexander

Have I heard this song before?  No

What my research dug up:

“Anna (Go to Him)” was written and originally recorded by American songwriter and soul singer (duh) Arthur Alexander.  The dude had a thing for A alliteration, apparently.  Quoth the Wikipedia and music critic Jason Ankeny by proxy, “Alexander was a ‘country-soul pioneer’ and that, though largely unknown, ‘his music is the stuff of genius, a poignant and deeply intimate body of work on par with the best of his contemporaries.’”  A number of his songs were covered-up by more famous artists (as proven by the fact that I’m writing about “Anna” solely for a Beatles blog).

“‘Anna’ was one of the great early soul ballads, even if its loping groove was closer to a mid-tempo song than a slow ballad. Like several of Alexander’s songs, it would come to be more famous in its cover version than through its original release. And it was actually a small hit when it first came out in 1962, getting to #68 in the pop charts and #10 in the R&B listings.” – music critic Richie Unterberger

Alexander’s version was released as a single in Sept. 1962.

It really is a lovely song, but I like many others can’t help but wonder why the title is “go TO him” when the lyrics consistently say, “go WITH him.”

The Beatles’ cover of “Anna” appeared on their debut album “Please Please Me” in 1963.  Beatlemaniacs more diligent than I will be quick to mention that this album was basically recorded in one day – the group had four singles and needed ten more to make a complete album.  In three three-hours sessions they basically recreated a set from their live shows.  My favorite quote regarding this situation comes from Mark Lewisohn — “There can scarcely have been 585 more productive minutes in the history of recorded music.”

“Anna” was one of John’s favorite songs, and he has the lead vocals on their cover.  Since he not only recorded an entire album in thirteen hours but also had a nasty cold, John’s singing voice is kind of rough.  It doesn’t sound bad, it just doesn’t sound like the Lennon latecomers like me are used to.

The video I’ve provided for listening below is marked ‘rare,’ but it is the album version of “Anna.”  I think the video footage itself is supposed to be rare.  I thought it was cute, so I went with this video over one with a stationary image.

The Beatles recorded “Anna” twice more for “Pop Go the Beatles” on BBC radio, once in June 1963 and again in August of the same year.

I’m starting to sound like a broken record, but I really enjoyed this song.  The Beatles’ version is sweet, but I think I like Arthur’s better.  It’s always hard to top the original.



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