Day 108: “I Saw Her Standing There”

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?  Lennon/McCartney

Have I heard this song before?  Yes

What my research dug up:

Paul conceived “I Saw Her Standing There” was a modern take on the traditional British song “Seventeen Come Sunday”/”As I Roved Out” while driving home from a Beatles’ concert in Lancashire. John helped him hash it out at Paul’s home in Sept. 1962, writing the lyrics on a Liverpool Institute exercise book.

“I had ‘She was just seventeen,’ and then ‘never been a beauty queen’. When I showed it to John, he screamed with laughter, and said, ‘You’re joking about that line, aren’t you?’ …We came up with, ‘You know what I mean.’ Which was good, because you don’t know what I mean” – Paul McCartney (Barry Miles, Many Years From Now)

Paul lifted the bass line directly from Chuck Berry’s Feb. 1961 single “I’m Talking About You.” According to Paul, “I played exactly the same notes as he did and it fitted our number perfectly. Even now, when I tell people about it, I find few of them believe me. Therefore I maintain that a bass riff doesn’t have to be original” (Many Years From Now).

Of “I Saw Her,” Alan Pollack noted, “For a rare change, we have no romantic or emotional complications; no angst, no pangs, not even the slightest amount of self-doubt; this time, — to paraphrase Richard Price’s ‘The Wanderers’ — it’s more like some ‘hip ditty bop noise’ to remind us in perpetuity of the ‘nowness and coolness of being seventeen and hip;’ of falling for the first time in what you think just might be Real Love.”

Pollack also wrote that compared to many of their early numbers, “’I Saw Her Standing There’ is one of the Boys’ first fast, hard rockers. It was probably the most blazingly original song they had yet written at the time of its recording. Appropriately and auspiciously, they chose to crown it with the lead off spot on their first album.”

A recording of “I Saw Her Standing There” recorded in 1962 at the Cavern Club exists in bootleg form. This demo is slower and features no rhythm guitar since John played harmonica.

The Beatles also played the number in 1962 at the Star Club in Hamburg.

The album version of “I Saw Her” was recorded Feb. 11 as part of the infamous PPM marathon session under its working title, “Seventeen.” Nine takes were recorded, with the first deemed the best. However, Take 2 appeared on “The Beatles Bootleg Recordings 1963” (released on iTunes last year)…

…and Take 9 appeared as a B-side to the “Free As a Bird” single in 1995.

Paul’s count-off from the start of Take 9 was spliced onto the album version of “I Saw Her” because George Martin wanted the album to seem like a live show.

“I Saw Her” was the B-side to the “I Want to Hold Your Hand” single in America (released Dec. 26). As such, it peaked at #14 on US music charts.

A live version of “I Saw Her” recorded in Stockholm on Oct. 24, 1963 appeared on “Anthology 1.”

Quoth the Beatles Bible, “The Beatles recorded I Saw Her Standing There eleven times for BBC Radio. The first was a live broadcast for the Saturday Club [program] on 16 March 1963, and the final recording took place on 1 May 1964 for From Us To You.” Yowza. The version recorded Oct. 16, 1963 that aired four days later on “Easy Beat” appeared on “Live at the BBC.”

After the Beatles split, Paul and John both continued to perform “I Saw Her Standing There” in their live shows. John recorded a version with the Elton John Band in 1974 that was the B-side to the “Philadelphia Freedom” single. This was recorded during John’s last major live performance. After his death, this version of “I Saw Her” was released as a single, peaking at #40 on the UK charts.

Live versions of “I Saw Her” appear on Paul’s albums “Tripping the Live Fantastic,” “Back in the US,” and “Back in the World.” Simply put by Wikipedia, “The song has become a mainstay of McCartney’s live sets.”

… I think that’s enough talk for one day.




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