Day 110: “I Wanna Be Your Man”

When was it recorded?  Sept. 11-12 & 30 and Oct. 3 & 23, 1963

When was it first released, and on which album?  Nov. 1, 1963 as a single by the Rolling Stones

Who wrote it?  Lennon/McCartney

Have I heard this song before? Just the Stones’ version

What my research dug up:

So let’s talk about the Rolling Stones! As known as The Stones, they’re an English rock band formed in 1962 and still going strong.

Quoth Wikipedia, “The Rolling Stones were in the vanguard of the British Invasion of bands that became popular in the US in 1964–65. At first noted for their longish hair as much as their music, the band [was] identified with the youthful and rebellious counterculture of the 1960s. They were instrumental in making blues a major part of rock and roll, and of changing the international focus of blues culture to the less sophisticated blues typified by Chess Records artists such as Muddy Waters, writer of ‘Rollin’ Stone,’ the song after which the band is named.”

The band’s current lineup is Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Charlie Watts, and Ronnie Wood. However, their initial lineup (the one being considered when talking about today’s song) was Jagger, Richards, Watts, Bill Wyman, Ian Stewart, and Brian Jones. Members of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and ranked #4 in Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time, the group has released 29 studio albums and 18 live albums.

Way back when the Rolling Stones had released only one single, they met John and Paul… or their manager met John and Paul… It really depends who you ask.

According to Paul, he and John started work on “I Wanna Be Your Man” intending it to be a simple piece for Ringo (he does sing lead on the Beatles’ final version). While walking home from an awards luncheon in London, the Rolling Stones themselves pulled over in a taxi.

“So they shouted from the taxi and we yelled, ‘Hey, hey, give us a lift, give us a lift,’ and we bummed a lift off them. So there were the four of us sitting in a taxi and I think Mick said, ‘Hey, we’re recording. Got any songs?’ And we said, ‘Aaaah, yes, sure, we got one. How about Ringo’s song? You could do it as a single.’” — Paul McCartney (Barry Miles, Many Years From Now)

Everyone else seems to remember the Rolling Stones’ manager/producer Andrew Loog Oldham (who used to work for Beatles’ manager Brian Epstein) introducing Paul and John to the Stones.

“I Wanna Be Your Man was a kind of lick Paul had: ‘I want to be your lover, baby. I want to be your man.’ I think we finished it off for the Stones… yeah, we were taken down to meet the Stones at the club where they were playing in Richmond by Brian and some other guy. They wanted a song and we went to see them to see what kind of stuff they did. Mick and Keith had heard that we had an unfinished song – Paul just had this bit and we needed another verse or something. We sort of played it roughly to them and they said, ‘Yeah, OK, that’s our style.’ So Paul and I just went off in the corner of the room and finished the song off while they were all still there talking.” — John Lennon (David Sheff, All We Are Saying)

Mick Jagger remembers the incident a bit differently.

“We knew [the Beatles] by then and we were rehearsing and Andrew brought Paul and John down to the rehearsal. They said they had this tune, they were really hustlers then. I mean the way they used to hustle tunes was great: ‘Hey Mick, we’ve got this great song.’ So they played it and we thought it sounded pretty commercial, which is what we were looking for, so we did it like Elmore James or something.” – Mick Jagger

According to the Beatles Bible, “Although musically one of The Beatles’ most rudimentary songs, the recording of ‘I Wanna Be Your Man’ was a surprisingly drawn out affair. They recorded a single take during the 11 September 1963 session, the day after they had offered it to Jagger and Richards.” The next day they recorded six takes and left it. George Martin added an organ part Sept. 30 while the Beatles were on vacation. Ringo added a maraca part Oct. 3, and the recording was finally completed 20 days later.

Meanwhile, the Rolling Stones recorded and completed their version of “I Wanna Be Your Man” on Oct. 7. According to Bill Wyman, “We kind of learned it pretty quickly ’cause there wasn’t that much to learn. Then Brian got his slide out, his steel [guitar] out and dadaw… dadaw… and we said, Yeah, that’s better, dirty it up a bit and bash it out, and we kind of completely turned the song around and made it much more tough, Stones- and Elmore James-like.” It was released as the band’s second single Nov. 1 (and didn’t appear on an album until their 1972 compilation “Milestones” [oh my God, I just got that pun]).

According to SongFacts, “The Stones were just developing a fan base in England when they released [‘I Wanna Be Your Man’]. It was a big boost to their career, since a song written by Lennon and McCartney was almost guaranteed to be a hit.” The single peaked at #12 on the UK charts. More importantly, “I Wanna Be Your Man” inspired Jagger and Richards to write more of their own original material.

Wikipedia tells me, “A promotional video featuring the song was the first song ever performed on the Top of the Pops TV program in the UK.” I couldn’t track a copy of it down. I did however find a decent video of the Rolling Stones’ performance on “The Arthur Haynes Show” from Feb. 7, 1964.

The Beatles’ version appeared 21 days after the Stones’ single on “With the Beatles.”

This version also briefly appears in the film “A Hard Day’s Night” while the Beatles get their dance on at a night club.

“I Wanna Be Your Man” was a staple of the Beatles’ live shows following its release. They also recorded the song twice for BBC radio, first Jan. 7, 1964 and again Feb. 28. The latter appeared on “Live at the BBC.”

Another live version from the TV program “Around the Beatles” recorded Apr. 19, 1964, appeared on “Anthology 1.”

“I Wanna Be Your Man” is… not the Beatles’ most substantial song. Not by a long shot.  The Rolling Stones had the right idea by punching up the emotional intensity to make the lyrics more interesting.  That rawness makes it more believable — he’s so desperate to be your man that it’s all he can sing about!  Of the three Beatle versions, I like the “Live at the BBC” version best.



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