She Loves You

She Loves You single - United KingdomWritten by: Lennon-McCartney
Recorded: 1 July 1963
Producer: George Martin
Engineer: Norman Smith

Released: 23 August 1963 (UK), 16 September 1963 (US)

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

Available on:
Past Masters
1 (One)
Anthology 1
On Air – Live At The BBC Volume 2

The song with which Beatlemania truly began, She Loves You was released as a single on 23 August 1963. It remains their best selling single in the UK.

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It was again a she, you, me, I, personal preposition song. I suppose the most interesting thing about it was that it was a message song, it was someone bringing a message. It wasn’t us any more, it was moving off the ‘I love you, girl’ or ‘Love me do’, it was a third person, which was a shift away. ‘I saw her, and she said to me, to tell you, that she loves you, so there’s a little distance we managed to put in it which was quite interesting.
Paul McCartney
Many Years From Now, Barry Miles

The song was mostly written on 26 June 1963, in a room in the Turk’s Hotel in Newcastle, prior to The Beatles’ second performance at the city’s Majestic Ballroom. A true collaboration between Lennon and McCartney, She Loves You distilled the essence of excitement in their music, and became a defining moment of their early career.

I remember it was Paul’s idea: instead of singing ‘I love you’ again, we’d have a third party. That kind of little detail is apparently in his work now where he will write a story about someone and I’m more inclined to just write about myself.
John Lennon, 1980
All We Are Saying, David Sheff

McCartney’s original idea was to have a call-and-response song, with him singing the title line and the others answering with “yeah, yeah, yeah”. John Lennon, however, persuaded him otherwise.

John and I wrote She Loves You together. There was a Bobby Rydell song [Forget Him] out at the time and, as often happens, you think of one song when you write another.

We were in a van up in Newcastle. I’d planned an ‘answering song’ where a couple of us would sing ‘She loves you…’ and the other one answers, ‘Yeah, yeah.’ We decided that that was a crummy idea as it was, but at least we then had the idea for a song called She Loves You. So we sat in the hotel bedroom for a few hours and wrote it.

Paul McCartney
Anthology

They finished writing She Loves You the following day, at McCartney’s family home in Forthlin Road, Liverpool.

We sat in there one evening, just beavering away while my dad was watching TV and smoking his Players cigarettes, and we wrote She Loves You. We actually finished it there because we’d started it in the hotel room. We went into the living room – ‘Dad, listen to this. What do you think?” So we played it to my dad and he said, ‘That’s very nice, son, but there’s enough of these Americanisms around. Couldn’t you sing, “She loves you. Yes! Yes! Yes!”‘ At which point we collapsed in a heap and said, ‘No, Dad, you don’t quite get it!’ That’s my classic story about my dad. For a working-class guy that was rather a middle-class thing to say, really. But he was like that.
Paul McCartney
Many Years From Now, Barry Miles

In the studio

The Beatles recorded She Loves You five days after it was written, during a five-hour session in Abbey Road’s studio two. Documentation for the session no longer exists, but it was taped on the same day as its b-side, I’ll Get You.

They were especially proud of the final chord, which was previously undiscovered territory for them. As producer George Martin explained to Beatles historian Mark Lewisohn:

I was siting in my usual place on a high stool in studio two when John and Paul first ran through the songs, George joining in on the choruses.

I thought it was great but was intrigued by the final chord, an odd sort of major sixth, with George doing the sixth and John and Paul the third and fifths, like a Glenn Miller arrangement. They were saying, ‘It’s a great chord! Nobody’s ever heard it before!’ Of course I knew that wasn’t quite true.

George Martin
The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions, Mark Lewisohn

Chart success

She Loves You, more than any other song, was the breakthrough that led The Beatles to international success. Its ‘Yeah, yeah, yeah’ refrain quickly became synonymous with the band, as were the falsetto ‘Whooo’s.

Brian Matthew, the radio presenter, reviewed She Loves You in Melody Maker, and called it ‘banal rubbish’. None of us had heard the word ‘banal’ and we thought, ‘”Banal”? What’s that? Soppy? Too rebellious? What does “banal” mean?’ But when the record zoomed to number one in the Melody Maker chart the next week, he was on the front page disclaiming his comments: ‘No, no – at first I thought maybe it was a little banal… but it grows on you.’
Paul McCartney
Anthology

America took longer to warm to The Beatles, and the song wasn’t a hit at first. Capitol – EMI’s US counterpart – refused to release it, and Vee Jay – which had released Please Please Me and From Me To You to little effect – also declined.

From Me To You was released – a flop in America. She Loves You – a big hit in England, big number one in England – a flop in the USA. Nothing until I Want To Hold Your Hand.
Paul McCartney
Anthology

Desperate for a stateside hit, Brian Epstein licensed the song to Swan Records, based in Philadelphia, although it was picked up by a pitiful few of the crucial US radio stations.

When NBC’s The Jack Paar Program screened footage of The Beatles performing She Loves You in January 1964 (footage leased from the BBC, which had been filmed in August 1963 for Don Haworth’s documentary The Mersey Sound), America began to take notice of the group.

The song was eventually re-released by Swan in the wake of I Want To Hold Your Hand. It eventually climbed to the top of the US charts, remaining there for a fortnight in March 1964 – before being deposed by Can’t Buy Me Love.

21 responses on “She Loves You

  1. Jon S

    The song that launched Beatlemania. John and Paul working together. This song is so exciting and fun and positive. The first song I can think of that started with the chorus instead of a verse. Great cords, great fills by George and great drumming by Ringo. I’d love to see Paul play this and I Want To Hold Your Hand in concert.

    1. Avi

      John’s was the dominant voice on both these songs. Paul has already done Please Please Me, taking John’s place as the dominant voice and I am sorry to say it doesn’t quite work, so I don’t think it will work here either. Paul does great on his own songs so I think he should stick to that. Unfortunately, we’ll never again hear John sing those songs live again, only on record.

  2. Russian

    There’s a question, that interests me a lot. It’s well known that the Beatles performed their songs live the same way as they did it in studio. (Except for double-tracking: for example, since it was impossible for Paul to sing live, say, two-part harmony in third verse of “Things we said today”, he did it onstage along with George). When the Beatles played “She loves you” live, George joined to John&Paul singing not only during choruses but in every other line of verses as well. But all the musiciologists claim that George sang on studio version of “She loves you” only in choruses. The question is: DID George sing on studio version in verses? If it’s no, why they changed the arrangement for live performances??? P.S. Sorry for my English.

    1. Avi

      I have listened to this song so many times and by now am convinced that for parts of the verses John was double-tracked singing the melody line. Live, of course, he couldn’t do that so Paul had to sing with him. So, performing live George would take the 3rd voice instead of Paul.

  3. robert

    Sorry, don’t know the answer to Russian’s question – but I will say this.

    For those of us who were alive at the time (in the US) when She Loves You came out and got airplay, the sound of that song was completely unlike anything heard before.

    From the opening drum rolls and into the chorus – the song is like a roller coaster ride.

    The excitement, energy and pure joy was breath-taking and you just knew something was happening in music.

    She Loves You – as simple as it may seem now, is still the song every pop or rock band is trying to recreate.

  4. Naomi

    One of the aspects of this song that makes it so classic and enduring –and so characteristically Lennon and McCartney is that the exuberence of the song has a tinge of sadness. I have always felt that the narrator of the song is also in love with the female character. The whole song, but especially the line “with a love like that, you know you should be glad” speaks to me of unrequited love and longing. So I have always thought of it as a sad song wrapped in a happy package, making it even more astonishingly brilliant.

  5. Don

    For part 3 of 5 see “From Me To You.”
    How [not] to interpret a Beatles’ song, Part 4 of 5: context counts.
    On March 15, 1963, the Daily Express headline screamed “WAR MINISTER SHOCK” alongside a picture of Christine Keeler – declared “VANISHED”. Conservative War Minister John Profumo immediately declared his innocence to the House of Commons only to admit in June that he’d lied, and that he had indeed carried on an improper sexual liaison with the very same woman linked by a similar liaison with the London-based Soviet naval attaché Yevgeny Ivanov. On June 5 Profumo resigned his Cabinet position, his Privy Council and his Parliamentary membership. English news media were consumed with the story for months, leading ultimately to Prime Minister Macmillan’s resignation in October, and the downfall of the Conservative party in 1964. Amidst all this sturm und drang, Paul and John wrote the hit that ignited “Beatlemania”: “She Loves You” (written June 26, recorded July 1, released August 23, all in 1963).
    Paul was just fooling around looking for a new approach to writing a love song, and it occurred to him to write in the third person. John helped him work out the rest of it, George added the major sixth in the harmony and Ringo brings us tumbling headlong into the celebration. I have often heard people say things like, “It’s just a song, there is no deep meaning to it; the Beatles were just fooling around.” This attitude, however, rests on a huge mistake. If you or I were just fooling around writing a love song with a few of our friends, the results would likely be insignificant. But in the summer of 1963, Paul McCartney was trying to come up with another #1 hit that would resonate with an entire generation of young record-buyers – and he succeeded. His “fooling around” cannot be compared with ours.
    The infectious, exuberant “yeah, yeah, yeah!” is a wholehearted and uninhibited endorsement of love. More precisely, it is a passionate plea to respond positively to the love of a woman. She is not a passive sex object, she is a thoughtful subject who is making the well-considered decision to love. The proper response is not to feel that your traditional masculinity has been impugned by being turned into the object of her advances, or to be offended that she is being sexually assertive (“pride can hurt you too”); the proper response is “yeah, yeah, yeah!”
    The Beatles’ ingrained Liverpudlian irreverence no doubt made them laugh at the hypocrisy of a conservative government’s nasty little secrets being splashed all over the newspapers. Sanctimonious sexual repression was exposed as the mendacious venality it truly was. “She Loves You” is a riotous anthem for the free expression and acceptance of love, as well as a subtle urging to get over traditional masculine pride, so that you can accept the woman who loves you as a free and equal person and enjoy all that springs from such love. Elvis was merely transgressive of traditional social and moral norms; The Beatles were decidedly rebellious.

    For part 5 of 5 see “Tomorrow Never Knows.”

  6. Rod Morgan

    Don’t know whether you’ve covered this, but in his indispensable memoir, “Here, There and Everywhere,” engineer-deluxe Geoff Emerick tells a delightful story of this song being recorded immediately after security at EMI was crashed by a horde of adoring fans. He convincingly suggests that energy jolt of full-contact Beatlemania sparked a signature performance.

    It’s also been noted this song receives the greatest acclaim possible from other artists – they’ve left it alone, and it remains one of the least covered of Beatle hits.

  7. David Lee Fairey

    I think it was Phil Collins who said, that if you slow the song down – ie, play it yourself slowly on an instrument – then you will hear what a beautiful melody it is. I used to play a slowed-down version like this when I performed in pubs, guitar and voice, and everybody used to comment how much they loved that version.

    What is amazing is the Cm chord prior to the chorus – it ‘should be Bm’, a minor-third from G which naturally works; the Cm should not work but it does. Indeed it is the song’s ‘killer chord’ in my opinion. Lennon and McCartney were incredible at finding these chords (and Harrison would be in time).

    The only shame about the recording is the treble on the hi-hats; it pops into life for a few bars and then sinks back in the mix. Less noticeable on vinyl but very audible on CD.

    Still, it’s probably the finest ‘pop record’ they ever made and arguably the best ‘pop record’ released by anyone!!!

    1. James Ferrell

      Agreed–this song is just chock full of greatness.

      Those 4 bars where the high hats sound more trebly are a spliced in piece of another take.

  8. Tom Parker

    When in studio they sped up the recording and it sounds a little different. However when sang live paul was the dominant singer because he had the better live voice and did not forget words like John did. If you ever watch this song played live from the first Ed Sullivan show and the beginning of Beatlemania all songs where mainly sang by Paul McCartney with John and George on backing vocals. Just search for first american appearances of the beatles and watch the videos. You will see that The Beatles manager knew Paul was better at live performances and chose him to sing most of the songs. They started with Paul singing All my loving which was extremely popular on the radio (my dad Says) and then Paul sings Till there was you, then he mainly sings she loves you alone and I want to hold your hand and then he sings I saw you standing there. He does not even make one error. When they woke up the next day the were stars in the United States, Paul was amazing live and it would be great to see him sing She loves you again.

    1. Steve

      The reason Paul sounded louder on Ed Sullivan than John was because the cleaning person moved the settings on the mixing board after the rehearsal and getting the settings. So, unfortunately John’s mic was turned down. Apparently whoever was minding the mixing board during the performance, if anyone was there, either didn’t know to fix it or didn’t bother. She Loves You and I Want to Hold your Hand were double lead vocals that had harmony at certain points.
      Another interesting thing about that song is they actually sing she LOVED you, yeah, yeah, yeah in the Chorus.It’s possible that at some point one of them accidentally sings Loves while the other sings Loved. In fact, I’m remember seeing a few early single versions printed as “She Loved You”, maybe because that was the original title. But then for some reason “She Loves You” was what everyone was calling it so the title label changed.
      The only place that “She Loves You” is actually sung is in this part of the verses: “Yes, she loves you
      and you know you should be glad”.
      Put on some good headphones and listen closely and you’ll see what I mean.
      Also, on the first Ed Sullivan show I believe they actually tuned down a half step.

  9. Days of Broken Arrows

    I’m pretty sure the Bobby Rydell song McCartney refers to is “Swingin’ School,” not “Forget Him.” “Swingin’ School” has the call-response vocal he was originally going for in “She Loves You.” This is from Bob Spitz’s 2012 book on the Fabs.

  10. Donald Kirkbride

    i was given a copy of she loves you as a present from my auntie in 1963 and still have it in the dusty recesses of my singles collection which totals 1500 singles and recall from the last time i played it that although a bit crackly still plays ok

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