Monday, July 21, 2008

Anna (Go To Him)

Please Please Me, Track 3, 1963

Written by Arthur Alexander and performed originally by him in 1962, "Anna (Go to Him)" was one of John's favorite songs of the time, and he insisted that the Beatles record it. Various critics applauded and dismissed the track, with both sides arguing that it's 'youthful' quality made it stand out. This is the first track on Please Please Me where Lennon's head cold becomes noticeable in his vocal quality, and by the time the album reaches the Beatles' famous cover of "Twist and Shout" he is barely recognizable. (more)

I Love:
  • The "uuuuh-anna" of George's backup vocals
  • John's deteriorating vocal quality
  • The change in lyrics to "go with him;" "go to him" is never uttered
  • "So" rhyming with "more," a mark of liverpudlian accents, and present in other recordings as well
  • My ex-something-or-another Isaac's favorite song (with Things We Said Today). Suits him so well, the pathetic bastard.
  • John's plaintive cry of resignation at the end of the song with the sad little crash of the high hat (is that even right, I know nothing about what those bits are called)
I've determined not to include parts of the song or arrangement that were not the direct result of the Beatles' singing or songwriting skills on tracks that were not orginally written by John, Paul, George or Ringo. Let me just say, though, that the "give back your ring to me" lyric is absolutely heartbreaking, and John performs it so well. I think that the teenage quality of this version really adds poignancy to the song, but keeps it in line with the upbeat message of most of the other tracks of this era by reminding the listener that the singer is quite young and will get over Anna by the time track 6 rolls around.

As for Isaac, well, it is one of his favorite Beatles songs, and he could not be convinced that Lennon/McCartney did not write it. I guess that says something about the ability of the group to take ownership of their recordings, even from this early stage. The Beatles never were afraid to rearrange other peoples' songs or change the gender pronoun to better suit their needs (see the bizarre upcoming "Boys"). Isaac can have this song, but I can't decide whether I want Anna to give back her ring to him or not.

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