‘Komm, Gib Mir Deine Hand’, a German-language version of ‘I Want To Hold Your Hand’, was recorded by The Beatles in Paris in January 1964, along with ‘Sie Liebt Dich’, a similar reworking of ‘She Loves You’.
EMI’s West German division, Electrola Gesellschaft, had been busily persuading Brian Epstein and George Martin that they would be unable to sell The Beatles’ records unless they were in German. Martin agreed with Odeon, and had to convince the reluctant group to comply.
Otto Demmlar, a producer for EMI in Germany, telephoned Camillo Felgen, a singer, lyricist and television and radio presenter, to ask if we would provide German translations of ‘Komm, Gib Mir Deine Hand’ and ‘Sie Liebt Dich’. Felgen was also asked to fly to Paris to teach The Beatles phonetic pronunciations of the two songs.
The group were in France for a 19-day series of concerts at the city’s Olympia Theatre. However, getting them to the studio at the allotted hour proved somewhat complicated.
We waited an hour before I telephoned their suite at the George V hotel. Neil Aspinall answered, ‘They’re in bed, they’ve decided not to go to the studio.’ I went crazy – it was the first time they had refused to do anything for me. ‘You tell them they’ve got to come, otherwise I shall be so angry it isn’t true! I’m coming over right now.’ So the German [translator] and I jumped into a taxi, we got to the hotel and I barged into their suite, to be met by this incredible sight, right out of the Mad Hatter’s tea party. Jane Asher – Paul girlfriend – with her long red hair, was pouring tea from a china pot, and the others were sitting around her like March Hares.
They took one look at me and exploded, like in a school room when the headmaster enters. Some dived onto the sofa and hid behind curtains. ‘You are bastards!’ I screamed, to which they responded with impish little grins and roguish apologies. Within minutes we were on our way to the studio. They were right, actually. It wasn’t necessary for them to record in German, but they weren’t graceless, they did a good job.
The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions, Mark Lewisohn
In the studio
‘Komm, Gib Mir Deine Hand’ was the first song to be recorded on the 29 January 1964 session. The original four-track tape of ‘I Want To Hold Your Hand’, from 17 October 1963, had been mixed down to two tracks, and onto this they re-recorded their vocals in German.
The Beatles recorded 11 takes; the best were five and seven, and were later edited together with overdubbed handclaps. They then turned their attentions to ‘Sie Liebt Dich’ and a new song, ‘Can’t Buy Me Love’.
As if forty-odd shows weren’t enough, Brian would also arrange all these other duties, like writing and recording sessions. While we were in Paris, we ended up re-recording ‘I Want To Hold Your Hand’ and ‘She Loves You’ in German: ‘Komm, Gib Mir Deine Hand’ and ‘Sie Liebt Dich’ by Die Beatles. Our producer, George Martin, came over for the recording at the Pathé Marconi studio, and at the same time we put down the basic tracks for ‘Can’t Buy Me Love’.
The Lyrics: 1956 To The Present
Felgen used the alias J Nicolas for his songwriting credit – his full name was Camillo Jean Nicolas Felgen. ‘Komm, Gib Mir Deine Hand’ and ‘Sie Liebt Dich’ were credited to Lennon/McCartney/Nicolas/Hellmer – the latter presumably being a misspelling of Otto Demmlar’s surname.
On all British releases, including Past Masters, the songs were given the familiar Lennon-McCartney credit.