Day 215: “She’s a Woman”

When was it recorded?   Oct. 8, 1964

When was it first released, and on which album?   Nov. 27, 1964 as the B-side to “I Feel Fine”

Who wrote it?   McCartney (with noteworthy contribution from Lennon)

Have I heard this song before?   No

What my research dug up:

“She’s a Woman” was Paul’s attempt at writing his own Little Richard song. Quoth Richie Unterberger, “it’s a belter that illustrates how the Beatles could be bluesy without writing conventional blues songs that stuck to normal blues progressions.”

“I have a recollection of walking round St John’s Wood with that in my mind so I might have written it at home and finished it up on the way to the studio, finally polished it in the studio, maybe just taken John aside for a second and checked with him, ‘What d’you think?’ ‘Like it.’ ‘Good. Let’s do it!’” — Paul McCartney (Barry Miles, Many Years From Now)

According to the Beatles Bible, “‘She’s A Woman’ was perhaps the first Beatles song to contain a drugs reference. The Beatles had been introduced to cannabis by Bob Dylan on 28 August 1964. ‘Turn me on when I get lonely’ was supposedly Lennon’s line; he later said he was pleased it wasn’t picked up by the censors.”

The Fab Four minus George recorded the rhythm track in seven takes on Oct. 8, 1964 from 3:30 to 5:30 P.M. Take Six was used for overdubs, such as George’s lead guitar part added in another session that night (7:00 to 10:00 P.M.). Paul also added piano and Ringo added chocalho [ask me how many times I misspelled that one while drafting].

As the B-side to “I Feel Fine,” “She’s a Woman” was a hit in America, peaking at #4 on the Billboard music charts. Quoth Wikipedia, “On the US charts, the song was the final of 11 top ten hits in the calendar year 1964. This is an all-time record for most top ten hits in a calendar year on the Billboard Hot 100 charts by one artist/group.”

Quoth Alan Pollack, “This one was one of Paulie’s big personal triumphs. Not only was it a staple of the Beatles’ stage repertoire for the season of 1965, but as recently as the ‘Unplugged Special’ of last year, it was clearly on the composer’s own short list of Beatles’ songs he’s proud to still play in public.” Two live Beatles versions have been officially released. One version recorded Nov. 17, 1964 for BBC Radio’s “Top Gear” (aired Nov. 26) appeared on “Live at the BBC.”

Another version of “She’s a Woman” recorded Jun. 30, 1966 at the Nippon Budokan Hall in Tokyo appeared on “Anthology 2.”

The song can also be heard on a tape in the cavern scene in the Beatles’ 1965 film, “Help!”

For as popular as this song seems to have been, I’m surprised I had never heard it before. I can see how it would get buried under the Beatles’ “classics,” but I like it. Short and snappy.




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