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.

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 John Lennon and Paul 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”. 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

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 1 July 1963, 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.’

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

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’.

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