The Beatles Careers Launched After Their Second Album, The Songs Show Why
There was always music playing in the house growing up. When I was around 5 I remember hearing Nancy Sinatra and her single “These Boots are Made for Walking” my mom bought. I remember the Christmas album by The Chipmunks, and in later childhood times country songs, but above all those I remember the album with the Beatles, by The Beatles.
The album was so much fun to listen to and the cover was fantastic. These four young lads from Liverpool captivated me. My mom never bought another album of theirs, but I picked up the baton when I got old enough to buy albums for myself. I began my journey with The Beatles that I am still on today. Whether it is the songs and albums from The Beatles or from the solo careers of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr they have so much talent between them it is remarkable.
With the Beatles was the second album by The Beatles, and in this album, we hear songs that were written by Lennon and McCartney and George Harrison, as well as cover versions of songs. Eight songs were written by the band.
Let us find out why this album is so special and why it is still important in the music by the Beatles.
Recollections by the band and producer George Martin.
George Martin Remembers
In the book The Beatles Anthology by The Beatles George Martin said, “The first album was really arecital of their repertoire. We weren’t thinking in terms of an album being an entity in itself back then. We would record singles, and the ones that weren’t’ issued as singles would be put onto an album-which is how the second album, With the Beatles, was put together. It was just a collection of their songs, and one or two other people’s songs as well.”
Ringo Starr Remembers
“The cover songs recorded for With the Beatles were chosen by whoever liked them. It was interesting that when I joined The Beatles, we didn’t really know each other (the other three knew each other, of course,) but if you looked at each of our record collections, the four of us had virtually the same records…”
George Harrison Remembers
“The second album was slightly better than the first, inasmuch as we spent more time on it, and there were more original songs.”
“I sang “Roll Over Beethoven” for With the Beatles-it was a song I liked. I had the Chuck Berry record and I used to sing it in the clubs. I also wrote my first song, “Don’t Bother Me,” for the album.”
The Cover for the album
George Harrison stated that on the first album Please Please Me didn’t have much of a cover, but the band didn’t care because they were just happy to have a record out. With the Beatles they decided to be more artistic. The group showed the photographer pictures that Astrid and Junger had taken of them in Hamburg and asked can’t we have the album look like those pictures?
They ended up taking the photo session in a room with a piece of black background.
George said it ended up being the most copied design of the decade.
"It Won’t Be Long"
This song was mainly John’s idea, but Paul McCartney said that they both sat down and collaborated on it. This song starts out strong with the boys singing strongly to begin the song “It won’t be long yeah…” the harmonies are beautifully done and there is guitar riff that appears throughout the song. The yeahs sound like the song “She Loves You”, but that is where the similarity ends. This song has that early rock sound to it with the electric guitars and the great harmonies. It is a song It is a song of excitement about a love coming back home, and the singer, John, can’t contain his joy. A great way to start off the album.
“All I’ve Got to Do”
The Beatles slow things down with this song. John said he was trying to imitate Smokey Robinson, and it sounds like he came very close to his style singing this song. John was thinking of the American market when he wrote the song. The lyrics in the song mention calling a girl on the phone, and he said he never called a girl in his life because back in his day phones weren’t part of an English child’s life.
Ringo is playing is brought forward a bit in this song as well as Paul’s bass playing. John is in full control and sings with passion and sincerity when he sings,
And the same goes for me
Whenever you want me at all
I'll be here, yes I will
Whenever you call
You just gotta call on me
You just gotta call on me.
This is such a smooth song it could be played endlessly on a loop and one would never get tired of listening to it.
"All My Loving"
Surprisingly this song was never released as a single, but it did get a lot of airplay in its day. This song was Paul McCartney’s baby.
According to Paul:
“It was the first song I'd ever written the words first. I never wrote words first, it was always some kind of accompaniment, I've hardly ever done it since either. We were on a tour bus going to a gig and so I started with the words. I had in mind a little country and western song. We played the Moss Empire circuit a lot, and there were always these nice big empty backstage areas. The places have all become bingo halls now. We arrived at the gig and I remember being in one of these big backstage areas and there was a piano there, so I'd got my instrument. I didn't have a guitar, it was probably with our road manager, and I remember working the tune out to it on the piano. It was a good show song, it worked well live.”
Many Years From Now, Barry Miles
This song has a mix of rock and country and it so melodic you can’t help singing along. The lyrics are very loving, and it would be a song of life on the road how he was going to miss his love, how he was going to be true. George was the lead guitar player and he gave the guitar that country sound, while John played a great rhythm sound playing the song in triplicate. This is the song that proved McCartney could write a song just as well as Lennon could.
John Lennon could be critical of himself and of Paul at times, but this song he praised Paul for.
In an interview for Playboy magazine John stated,
“All My Loving is Paul, I regret to say. Ha-ha-ha. Because it's a damn good piece of work. [Singing] 'All my loving...' But I play a pretty mean guitar in back.”
John Lennon, 1980
All We Are Saying, David Sheff
"Don't Bother Me"
This song is very interesting because it is the first song that George Harrison wrote for The Beatles. George was sick in a hotel room and decided to try and write a song. Even though he and the other members of the band weren’t impressed by the song, I think it is a good little rocking song, and for a first try impressive.
George’s lyrics are different from John and Paul’s upbeat lyrics. George tells the listen straight starting with the title don’t bother me. The mood of the song could have been because he didn’t feel well.
Part of the lyrics state:
But 'till she's here please don't come near, just stay away.
I'll let you know when she's come home.
Until that day
Don't come around, leave me alone, don't bother me.
I've got no time for you right now, don't bother me.
I know I'll never be the same if I don't get her back again.
Because I know she'll always be the only girl for me.
The lyrics repeat the theme, and George states it showed him if he kept writing eventually he would write something good, and boy did he.
This song has that early 60’s style with that reverb electric guitar and the drums playing steadily in the background. It is a toe tapper, and even though George and the gang didn’t really like it, I really enjoy hearing it. The song was a big step for George and in time he proved he could write as well as John and Paul.
When I hear the harmonica it always reminds me of the song “Hey, Hey, Baby” and I think that John was inspired by the playing in the song and gives it tribute by playing in the same vein.
John loved the harmonica in the early days of the band and he is rocking out in this song playing it.
This is definitely a dance song, with the beat and the instruments taking center stage over the lyrics.
The idea was to give this song to Ringo according to an interview that John gave.
Little Child was another effort of Paul and I to write a song for somebody. It was probably Ringo.
John Lennon, 1980
All We Are Saying, David Sheff
Ringo though didn’t have the range for the song and if he wasn’t feeling it he didn’t want to do it, so John and Paul took over and did the song. The song goes along at rapid speed and it feels like the band had fun recording this song. The song must have been difficult to achieve live and the Beatles never attempted to do it on their concert tours.
“Till There Was You”
“Till There Was You”
This song was from the musical The Music Man, and it was written by Meredith Willson.
Paul noticed other acts would play offbeat songs in their acts and then modernize them, so he decided to do the same.
Paul was influenced by his dad and other relatives who loved the ballads.
I had an elder cousin, Elizabeth Danher, now Robbins. She was quite an influence on me... Betty would play me records like Peggy Lee's Fever. Peggy Lee did Till There Was You as well. I didn't know that was from the musical The Music Man until many years later. This led me to songs like A Taste Of Honey and things which were slightly to the left and the right of rock 'n' roll.
This is a beautiful song about the wonders of being in love and how you look at the world with different eyes when love gets into your heart. Paul sings it with tender emotion and the guitar solo by George Harrison is very beautiful.
Beatles Music History online states that if the Beatles hadn’t added the song to their repertoire, they may not have been signed to EMI Parlophone records in Britain. The song helped to show how versatile they were as a group. I guess Paul can thank his relatives for influencing his great taste in music.
"Please Mr. Postman"
The Beatles could choose songs when they needed to have more songs for the albums they did in the early days of their recordings and they picked “Please Mister Postman” as the song they wanted to record. The song was originally done by an all-girl group The Marvelettes who were on the Motown label.
This song is such a joy to listen to. John sings with urgency asking the mailman to look for his girlfriend’s letter. George and Paul sing the harmony beautifully and the handclaps really add to the song. They did the song justice.
“Roll Over Beethoven”
The Beatles loved Chuck Berry and they recorded more of his songs than any other performers. John originally sang the song, but in 1961 George Harrison took over it.
“I sang Roll Over Beethoven for With The Beatles – it was a song I liked. I had the Chuck Berry record and I used to sing it in the clubs.”
It is easy to see why the Beatles enjoyed performing Chuck Berry’s songs. The Beatles song is early rock and roll perfection. The band enthusiastically plays the song for all it is worth. This is George’s baby as he plays lead guitar and handles the vocals as well.
"Hold Me Tight"
John and Paul weren’t too impressed by this song according to The Beatles Bible. John stated he thought it was a poor song and he wasn’t impressed with it. Paul himself said he didn’t really remember much about it.
The guys are a little tough on the song, this song just rocks. You got the great guitar riffs throughout, Paul sings it with a good range though people have said it was out of tune here and there. Rock and roll aren’t about perfection, but about emotion and this song has it.
“You Really Got a Hold on Me”
The Beatles recorded this song written by Smokey Robinson, and they must have made Smokey smile with their version of the song. John Lennon does the lead vocals and brings his wonderful tone and soul to the song. George is singing along with John, and Paul is doing the backing vocals. The Beatles were great at harmonizing and this song proves it. A fantastic version of a Smoky Robinson song.
"I Wanna Be Your Man"
John Lennon considered this a throw away song. It was a song given to the Rolling Stones and then the Beatles had Ringo sing it. They said with Ringo they had to give him a simple song to sing while playing the drums. The song is a great little rocker. It was a song influenced by Bo Diddley with the beat, and the phrasing of the lyrics. It is a great dance tune. The song has a lot of energy and is enjoyable to listen to.
“Devil In Her Heart”
This song was the last time the Beatles sang a song that was originally performed by an all-girl band. After this album the Beatles were getting good at writing their own songs. It is neat, however, to hear them perform songs by other singers and groups, and how they put their own spin to the song.
George Harrison sang the lead on this song. His vocals are strong, and he does a wonderful job on his lead guitar playing. George is singing with more emotion in this song, and John and Paul, back him up with great harmonies. Relistening to this I didn’t realize how well George performed this song. This song is perfection in every way.
“Not A Second Time”
This song was written by John Lennon, and in this song, he dominates it with his lead vocals and no harmonies. John sings with such smoothness, and clearness, and most of all with emotion. Paul had made a comment about the song “I Wanna Be Your Man” and how the group had said that the words don’t really matter in a song, people don’t listen to the words, they listen to the sound. John and Paul knew that secret and gave the song all they had.
John said he wanted to write a Smoky Robinson style song. He made it his own. The vocals take the foreground in this song. John did a double track with no backing vocals by Paul and George this time around. I like the piano that starts out softly and then gets a solo in the middle of the song. The acoustic guitar strums softly in the background, and Ringo gives the drums a strong beat. Ringo has a great feel about how he should drum for each song and he gave John a good accompaniment with his drumming in this song.
“Money” (That’s What I Want)
The Beatles chose this song by Barrett Strong to end the album with. They were looking for a rocking song like “Twist and Shout”, and this song delivered. The piano by George Martin begins the song, then Ringo joins in with strong drumming. John lets it loose in this song with strong rock and roll vocals and screams. This song comes together so well a great blending of vocals, instruments, backing vocals, and hand claps. It is a great way to close the album.
With the Beatles came out eight months after their first album Please Please Me. Even though no song was released as a single the album was a great success. I couldn’t agree more. There is not a bad song on the album. The Beatles showed that not only could they pick songs that weren’t theirs and make them their own, they could also, more importantly write brilliant songs. In each album the Beatles kept pushing their talents and giving the listener more and more great material.
It is so enjoyable to listen to this album and hear just how talented they are. The Beatles proved to the world that they could sing great harmonies, write great songs, and play their instruments well. In every record they recorded they got better and better. By the time they split up they became one of the best bands in rock and roll.
With the Beatles is an album that still impresses even after all the years that have gone by. It will be played by me, and millions of fans for years to come. Thank you Beatles for your greatness, and giving the fans music that will live forever.