Matchbox

Long Tall Sally EP artwork - United KingdomWritten by: Perkins
Recorded: 1 June 1964
Producer: George Martin
Engineer: Norman Smith

Released: 19 June 1964 (UK), 20 July 1964 (US)

Ringo Starr: vocals, drums
John Lennon: rhythm guitar
Paul McCartney: bass
George Harrison: lead guitar
George Martin: piano

Available on:
Past Masters
Live At The BBC

The Beatles’ cover of this Carl Perkins hit from 1956 was first released in the UK on their Long Tall Sally EP, and in the US as a single, coupled with Slow Down. It was also released on the Something New album.

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The song was based on Match Box Blues, a 12-bar blues recorded by Blind Lemon Jefferson in 1927. Re-imagined by Perkins, it was first recorded at Sun Records in December 1956.

Perkins claimed he hadn’t heard Jefferson’s song when he recorded Matchbox. However, both songs contain the lines: “I’m sittin’ here wonderin’, will a matchbox hold my clothes/I ain’t got no matches but I still got a long way to go.”

Matchbox had been one of Pete Best‘s solo vocal spot in The Beatles’ live shows from 1961, and was taken over by John Lennon when Best was sacked from the group.

In July 1963 The Beatles recorded Matchbox for the radio show Pop Go The Beatles, with Ringo Starr singing. This version can be heard on the Live At The BBC collection.

In June 1964 the group were considering which songs to record for their third long player, A Hard Day’s Night. Matchbox was intended to be Ringo’s feature on the album, but was later deemed surplus to requirements and so it appeared on the Long Tall Sally EP.

In the studio

Carl Perkins was on tour in Britain in 1964, and on 1 June he was visiting Abbey Road when The Beatles recorded his song. There are rumours he played the low guitar riff that opens the song.

It took The Beatles five takes to perfect. Ringo played drums and sang simultaneously, and later double-tracked his vocals.

On the same night the group also recorded I’ll Cry Instead, Slow Down and I’ll Be Back.

Lyrics

I said I’m sitting here watching
Matchbox hole in my clothes
I said I’m sitting here wondering
Matchbox hole in my clothes
I ain’t got no matches
But I sure got a long way to go

I’m an old poor boy, and I’m a
Long way from home
I’m an old poor boy, and I’m a
Long way from home
I’ll never be happy
‘Cause everything I ever did was wrong

Well, if you don’t want my peaches, honey
Please don’t shake my tree
Well, if you don’t want Ringo’s peaches, honey
Please don’t mess around my tree
I got news for you, baby
Leave me here in misery

Well, let me be your little dog
Till your big dog comes
Well, let me be your little dog
Till your big dog comes
And when your big dog gets here
Watch how your puppy dog runs

I said I’m sitting here watching
Matchbox hole in my clothes
I said I’m sitting here watching
Matchbox hole in my clothes
I ain’t got no matches but I sure
Got a long way to go

10 Responses to “Matchbox”

  1. carlos

    Through the days this song (along with “Slow down” & “Long tall Sally”) was recorded George was using his 12 strings Rickenbacker, but this can´t be heard on any of these songs (only in “I call your name” to name the 4 songs EP “Long…”) Does it mean he wasn´t present, maybe ill or something, and the solos were all played by John ?

    Reply
    • Gary84

      George’s Rickenbacker is definitely there in this song – although it’s very low in the mix, you can hear it in the ’09 remaster.

      Reply
  2. Calvin Green

    John plays the lead guitar. Riff and everything. George plays the 12 string rhythm. If not then John actually picked up his 325/12 in this song. Either way there is both a shock of this song. John playing lead or his 12 string

    Reply
  3. exarctly

    I love how poorly the Ringo double track comes off… maybe it is intentional or just all that graet reverb… but I love how you hear phrases begin and such a couple of times, or hear two distinct Ringo’s or Ringo echoes.

    Reply
  4. Caleb

    I’ve noticed that you put in the lyrics for this song, but I haven’t noticed lyrics on any other pages…are you slowly going through and adding lyrics? It would be a nice touch.

    Reply
  5. Adam

    Thanks for an interesting website! :)

    The Beatles got the lyrics wrong on “Matchbox”. This has been pointed out by Carl Perkins himself to Paul McCartney.
    It should read; “I’m sittin’ here wondering will a matchbox hold my clothes” and so on. That makes more sence also.

    Check out this great documentary on YouTube (My Old Friend) and you will see Carl setting Paul straight. :)

    Reply
    • Gary84

      I sometimes wonder if inaccurate lyrics such as these are a result of them having to learn the song by ear – note the similar ‘problem’ with Long Tall Sally. It’s quite interesting, in that it almost becomes their own variation on the original.

      Reply
  6. slatts

    I’ve always wondered where the “peach tree” lyric came from. I was your typical “beatlemaniac” and had never heard any of the Beatles covers before I heard their versions. So, when I played Carl Perkin’s recording of the song, I was surprised to find that verse missing. Does anyone know anything about this? Thanks!

    Reply

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