Ain’t She Sweet

Anthology 1 album artworkWritten by: Ager-Yellen
Recorded: 24 June 1961; 24 July 1969
Producers: Bert Kaempfert/George Martin
Engineers: Karl Hinze/Geoff Emerick, Phil McDonald

Released: 21 November 1995 (Anthology 1); 28 October 1996 (Anthology 3)

John Lennon: vocals, rhythm guitar
Paul McCartney: bass
George Harrison: lead guitar
Pete Best: drums (Anthology 1)
Ringo Starr: drums (Anthology 3)

Available on:
Anthology 1
Anthology 3
John Lennon Anthology

Performances of Ain’t She Sweet bookended The Beatles’ career. They recorded the song in Hamburg before they had a record deal, and again in 1969 during the Abbey Road sessions.

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The song was written by Milton Ager and Jack Yellen in 1927 and quickly became a standard. A host of singers and band leaders went on to record it, including Frank Sinatra.

A lot of our tracks may not have been ‘cool’. I think it we’d just been cool, we wouldn’t have made it how we did… The fact that we weren’t ashamed of those [cabaret] leanings meant that the band could be a bit more varied. And there was a need for that, because we played cabaret a lot. Songs like Till There Was You and Ain’t She Sweet would be the late-night cabaret material. They showed that we weren’t just another rock ‘n’ roll group..
Paul McCartney
Anthology

It was Gene Vincent’s 1956 version that inspired The Beatles to add it to their live repertoire. Through numerous performances in Hamburg and elsewhere, it became a rock ‘n’ roll barnstormer with John Lennon on vocals.

Gene Vincent’s recording of Ain’t She Sweet is very mellow and high-pitched and I used to do it like that, but the Germans said, ‘Harder, harder’ – they all wanted it a bit more like a march – so we ended up doing a harder version.
John Lennon
Anthology

While performing in Hamburg’s Top Ten club in summer 1961, the group – with Pete Best on drums – were approached by local producer Bert Kaempfert to record as the backing band for British singer Tony Sheridan.

The session took place on 24 June 1961 at Hamburg’s Studio Rahlstedt. They also recorded versions of Take Out Some Insurance On Me, Baby and Nobody’s Child on the same day.

The fact that Lennon and McCartney chose not to record any of their joint compositions suggests that they may have been unsure of the quality of their original material. Alternatively, The Beatles may have initially misunderstood that they were to be contracted as Sheridan’s backing group, and so chose to save their stronger material for the future.

Long available on bootleg and non-Apple collections, three of the seven 1961 recordings – Ain’t She Sweet, My Bonnie and Cry For A Shadow – were eventually released on Anthology 1.

An impromptu version if Ain’t She Sweet, similar in tempo and style to Vincent’s version, was recorded on 24 July 1969. The Beatles became sidetracked while recording Sun King/Mean Mr Mustard, and performed three Gene Vincent songs: Ain’t She Sweet, Who Slapped John? and Be-Bop-A-Lula. Of these, only Ain’t She Sweet is available officially, and can be heard on Anthology 3.

Another version of Ain’t She Sweet, taped at New York’s Record Plant East was recorded in the summer of 1974 during the sessions for John Lennon’s Walls And Bridges. Featuring Lennon on vocals and guitar and Nicky Hopkins on piano, the 30-second snippet was eventually released on the 1998 box set John Lennon Anthology.

Lyrics

Oh ain’t she sweet?
Well see her walking down that street
Yes I ask you very confidentially
Ain’t she sweet?

Oh ain’t she nice?
Well look her over once or twice
Yes I ask you very confidentially
Ain’t she nice?

Just cast an eye
In her direction
Oh me, oh my
Ain’t that perfection?

Oh I repeat
Well don’t you think that’s kind of neat?
Yes I ask you very confidentially
Ain’t she sweet?

Oh ain’t she sweet?
Well see her walking down that street
Well I ask you very confidentially
Ain’t she sweet?

Oh ain’t that nice?
Well look it over once or twice
Yes I ask you very confidentially
Ain’t she nice?

Just cast an eye
In her direction
Oh me, oh my
Ain’t that perfection?

Oh I repeat
Well don’t you think that’s kind of neat?
Yes I ask you very confidentially
Ain’t she sweet?

Oh ain’t she sweet?
Well see her walking down that street
Well I ask you very confidentially
Ain’t she sweet?
Well I ask you very confidentially
Ain’t she sweet?

3 responses on “Ain’t She Sweet

  1. Bryan the moped geek

    The 1969 version has a more organic feel to it, and I find it humorous at the end when John breaks the ‘fourth wall’ and utters “I hope you like that sh!t”

    1. Bill

      I’m glad the boys turned this into an uptempo number, because Gene Vincent’s 1956 version is not really one of the high points of his “Bluejean Bop” album. By making it faster, they made it their own, much like their unique arrangement of “I’m Gonna Sit Right Down And Cry (Over You)”.

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