When was it recorded? Oct. 18, 1964
When was it first released, and on which album? Dec. 4, 1964 on “Beatles for Sale”
Who wrote it? Carl Perkins
Have I heard this song before? Yes
What my research dug up:
**Warning for video overload – there will be eight videos linked below. I was going to restrain myself, but it’s finally Friday, so fuck it.
American musician Carl Perkins wrote “Everybody’s Trying to Be My Baby” in 1956. He was also the song’s original performer; it appeared on his album “Dance Album of… Carl Perkins.”
Perkins was ranked #99 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time, and here’s why. He began his writing and recording career in 1954 in Memphis, TN, at Sun Records Studio; the next year he wrote and recorded a little number called “Blue Suede Shoes.” If you aren’t familiar with that song, go look it up now. I’ll wait.
Perkins was a pioneer of the rockabilly music movement (often dubbed “the King of Rockabilly” nowadays). Though he’s probably best remembered now for writing songs later covered by major artists, American country music star Charlie Daniels noted, “Carl Perkins’ songs personified the rockabilly era, and Carl Perkins’ sound personifies the rockabilly sound more so than anybody involved in it, because he never changed.”
I saw a quote on a number of my sources attributed to Paul to the effect of “if there were no Carl Perkins, there would be no Beatles.” I’m still looking for an original source for that one, but given Paul’s company MPL Communications administers Perkins’ music catalogue to this day, it’s not a huge stretch.
Perkins’s last album was released in 1996 (and featured a collaboration with George Harrison); he died Jan. 1998, four months after his last major concert so he had a pretty good run. Perkins is also in the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Grammy Hall of Fame, and of course the Rockabilly Hall of Fame. Oh, and according to Wikipedia, “[h]is version of ‘Blue Suede Shoes’ was included by the National Recording Preservation Board in the Library of Congress National Recording Registry in 2006.”
Back to the song at hand – “Everybody’s Trying” was actually derived from American musician Rex Griffin’s 1936 single “Everybody’s Tryin’ To Be My Baby.”
Quoth Wikipedia, “Lyrically, the Perkins and Griffin songs are similar, but musically, the arrangement is more modern.” Let’s compare for ourselves though.
Hmm, plagiarism or sampling? The great popular music debate has been around a lot longer than I realized. I guess since the arrangement is substantially different I’ll let it slide and go with Perkins being “inspired” to create his own song (with the same words).
The Beatles began playing “Everybody’s Trying” in their early touring days – in fact, here’s a version of it from Dec. 1962 from the Star-Club in Hamburg.
It might have been hard to hear in that version, but George has the lead vocals on this number. According to the Beatles Bible, “George Harrison… was arguably the group’s biggest Perkins fan. His early guitar solos deployed many of the same licks, and he had sung ‘Your True Love and Glad All Over,’ as well as ‘Everybody’s Trying To Be My Baby.’ Additionally, during The Beatles’ first tour of Scotland in 1960, as the backing band for Johnny Gentle, they all decided to adopt pseudonyms. George became briefly known as Carl Harrison, after his idol.” Cute.
The Beatles’ next notable performance of the song was in Jun. 1963 for BBC Radio’s “Pop Go the Beatles.”
Then they got around to recording it (in one take, no less) in Oct. 1964. George’s vocals are double-tracked and echoed using the STEED (Single Tape Echo & Echo Delay) effect. “Everybody’s Trying” is the last song on the album “Beatles for Sale.”
The Beatles recorded another version of “Everybody’s Trying” for BBC Radio in Nov. 1964; this one is on the compilation album “Live at the BBC.”
They continued to play this number while they toured, and another live version recorded at Shea Stadium on Aug. 15, 1965, appears on “Anthology 2.”
I was thinking about Day 3: “Act Naturally” the other night and how Ringo got to duet with the original singer-songwriter. Turns out George had a similar honor in 1985 – though not released as a single like “Act Naturally,” George and Carl performed “Everybody’s Trying” for the Cinemax cable special “Blue Suede Shoes: A Rockabilly Session” and its subsequent soundtrack. [Carl Perkins is the gentleman on George’s left and your right wearing the light blue shirt and glasses.]
I realize I didn’t have to post every single version of this song I dug up, but when I started assembling links I reverted to my third grade Pokémon phase. I had to catch them ALL. Listening to the Shea Stadium version was really the point of no return; I heard that recording, fell in love, then felt bad about leaving out other equally worthy live versions of “Everybody’s Trying to Be My Baby.” That Shea Stadium recording is definitely my favorite of the bunch, with the George/Carl performance a close second. What a great song.