Day 18: “Baby’s in Black”

When was it recorded?  Aug. 11, 1964

When was it first released, and on which album?  Dec. 4, 1964 on “Beatles for Sale”

Who wrote it?  Lennon-McCartney

Have I heard this song before?  No

What my research dug up:

“Baby’s in Black” is in 6/8 time – Wikipedia says it also has “a moderate tempo that makes it sound like 3/4 (waltz-time),” and it was routinely referred to as a waltz back when it was released, but I think it’s pretty fast to be considered as such. AllMusic Group described the song as “a love lament for a grieving girl that was perhaps more morose than any previous Beatles’ song.”  The article also notes that “[a]lthough most Lennon-McCartney compositions were considerably more the work of one of the writers than the other, this was one joint effort in which the song was written with virtually equal contributions from each.”  (If you have the time, check out Unterberger’s complete AllMusic review – I thought it had a lot of interesting information.)

“Baby’s in Black” was the first song recorded for the album “Beatles for Sale.”  Quoth the Wikipedia, “Lennon and McCartney sang their vocal parts simultaneously through the same microphone. This was done at their own insistence in order to achieve a closer feel to the performance. McCartney was subsequently contacted by their music publisher in 1964 inquiring as to which melody line was the main tune (i.e. Paul’s higher or John’s lower melody). McCartney later said that he told the publisher they were both the main melody.”  Here’s the album version.

A live version of “Baby’s in Black” was used as the B-side for “Real Love” in 1996, but there were so many videos of live versions on YouTube that I’m not entirely sure which version it was.  As Unterberger notes, “The group most likely was prouder of the song than many of their other LP-only cuts from the era, as they performed it live from late 1964 until their last tour in 1966.”

I had never heard this one before, but I really like it!  Maybe I’m just macabre like that, but even beyond the lyrics there’s a lot of sweet stuff going on (namely George’s funky guitar part).  I was pleasantly surprised by how much there was the love about this one.


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