She Loves You (1963)
“She Loves You” is the song that inadvertently kicked off the 1960s. Not the chronological decade, not the sanctioned period, but the phenomenon that arose spontaneously. The ’60s of legend and loathing. The ’60s of excess and intense self-expression.
“She Loves You” can be picked apart in a variety of ways. It is a bit trite. (Then again, what song about love isn’t?) Musically it speaks of very young artists who only later would become giants in the cultural landscape. It is like Hemingway’s great fish in The Old Man And The Sea – hooks, hooks everywhere. But really good hooks, man.
Scattered among smaller ones, the big hooks are three: the “yeah-yeah-yeah’s”; the guitar chords that shadow the “yeah-yeah-yeah’s”; and the “ooooooo’s” that crop up out of sheer enthusiasm throughout the song and that set young hearts wildly aflutter.
The ’60s began here
The yeah-yeah-yeah’s gave rise to reactions in Communist East Germany and in authoritarian regimes in east Asia warning against this “yeah-yeah” music emanating from England, from the wicked West. For those of us who have heard “She Loves You” uncountable times, those yeah-yeah-yeah’s are a foundational assertion, one that to hold meaning doesn’t particularly need to connect to the song’s plain story of one buddy telling another that “hey, mate, the girl really is crazy for you – she loves you, yeah-yeah-yeah.”
The spiritual assertion was an over-hill-over-dale, resounding “yes” after the dourness of three decades of struggles that sat morbidly in the bloodstream of youth’s collective psyche in the mid-20th century Western World. The sourness was begging to be kicked to the curb. The Depression and World War II may have long been over, but their effects were like a hangover. And the conformist 1950s and first few years of the ’60s pressed heavily on a new generation determined to make a mark.
There had been stillborn efforts to create a youth culture as the “teenager” became something more than just a junior adult. Eventually hot-rod culture, surf culture and inner city culture began merging through mass media. While many teenagers remained marginalized, many more were affluent and educated.
Then along came the mop-tops, the apostles of the possible.
By April of 1964, The Beatles occupied the top five spots on Billboard’s Hot 100. She Loves You was number 3. That, after six months on the chart.
Article continues below photos of audiences struck by Beatlemania…
George Harrison’s guitar work is as good as any he did in the early days. The signature chords that echo and mimic the yeah-yeah-yeah’s are perfect, restrained but exuberant. Ringo’s two-bar drum fill launches the song not into an opening verse but the chorus, a novel way to begin a song then.
Deeply inspired by the Everly Brothers’ tight vocals, Lennon and McCartney sing in such perfect harmony that they seem to be of single voice. When you recollect The Beatles’ vocal sound in your head, it is that unity of voice by John and Paul (and often George) that you are hearing.
A brilliant musical twist closes out “She Loves You.”
There is a fourth “yeah” added to the three that have been repeated during the song. The last “yeah” is sung in sustainment against a minor 6th chord, what is called an added tone. Alright, a little technical, but…
The device grows out of American mountain music rooted in Scots-Irish harmonics that produces the added tone. It passed into Rockabilly (Hank Williams’ “Hey Good Lookin’” ends on the same note) and thence to modern Rock-N-Roll – Chuck Berry’s “Rock n’ Roll Music” ends on it, as does Sam Cooke’s “You Send Me.”
Some argue that “I Want To Hold Your Hand” is the keynote song from the very early Beatles catalog. And it is a great hit single. Harrison’s guitar is more prominent. It is rockier without doubt. But it is a song that talks about handholding.
“She Loves You” – whether by accident or design – talks about embracing a whole new cultural and social world. Yeah-yeah-yeah… yeah. The big “Yes” of the 1960s had begun.
- “She Loves You” runs for 2:20. It was often played back-to-back by DJ’s to pad it out. Talk about a hot song: many radio stations in ’63 and ’64 played it ten times per hour.
- One BBC commentator suggested that English pop groups use fewer Americanisms in their songs. He suggested that the Beatles replace the famed “yeah-yeah-yeah’s” with “yes-yes-yes.”
Also by The Beatles on SongMango.com:
- A Day In The LifeWhen the transition occurs between the two songs we are totally unprepared, the shift so unpredictable, abrupt yet so smooth.
- I'm Only SleepingIt's not about drugs. It’s about the big snooza-palooza, one of Lennon's lifelong "passions." Hey, nap dog.
- While My Guitar Gently Weeps An odd mood, unyielding rhythm, Eric Clapton’s spot lead guitar, plus palpable group tension turn the work into a major masterpiece.
- No ReplyNo one ever claimed John Lennon was an easy-going, mellow kind of fellow. The height of paranoid stalking songs.