Matchbox single artwork - JapanWritten by: Perkins
Recorded: 1 June 1964
Producer: George Martin
Engineer: Norman Smith

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

Available on:
Past Masters
Live At The BBC

Personnel

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

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.

‘Matchbox’ 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 fired from the group.

The Beatles recorded ‘Matchbox’ on two occasions for BBC radio, both with Ringo Starr singing.

The first was for Pop Go The Beatles on 10 July 1963. This version can be heard on the Live At The BBC collection. The other songs performed during the show were ‘Memphis, Tennessee’, ‘Do You Want To Know A Secret’, ‘Till There Was You’, ‘Please Mister Postman’, and ‘The Hippy Hippy Shake’.

The second BBC recording was made on 1 May 1964, for the From Us To You show. The other songs were ‘I Saw Her Standing There’, ‘Kansas City/Hey-Hey-Hey-Hey!’, ‘I Forgot To Remember To Forget’, ‘You Can’t Do That’, ‘Sure To Fall (In Love With You)’, ‘Can’t Buy Me Love’, and ‘Honey Don’t’.

In June 1964, The Beatles were considering which songs to record for their third long player, A Hard Day’s Night. ‘Matchbox’ was intended to be Starr’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 Starr 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