Sunday, January 3, 2010

The Beatles and musical history: "Hallelujah, I Love Her So" (plus "Well, Darling")

The reason I include two songs in this entry is because there isn't much to say about "Well, Darling". It's another twelve-bar blues, but the only thing that indicates that it's anything more than another improvisation with vocals is the harmonized chorus consisting of the words "well, darling". Otherwise, all approximately five minutes of it sound made up. My guess is that it was the germ of a song that was never finished, and they were attempting to make something of it while the tape was going.

"Hallelujah, I Love Her So", on the other hand, is a cover of a popular song that The Beatles couldn't hope to match with the songwriting skills they had at the time. One version of theirs is included on Anthology 1. "Hallelujah" was written by Ray Charles, and released in 1956. Ray Charles is one of the most important figures in rhythm 'n' blues, inspiring a great many rockers.
Now, this is just my personal opinion, but one thing I've always found odd about Ray Charles is that I keep hearing him described as "rock 'n' roll" when not one song of his I've heard could truly be described as such (except perhaps "What'd I Say"). There's plenty of blues in his music, but his biggest hits sound very much to me like swing music, making me think that he has more to do with Fats Waller than Blind Lemon Jefferson. Heck, some of them sound very sweet and almost... middle-of-the-road. I dunno if it's because I'm unfamiliar with his lesser known and/or earlier recordings, but I do admit that he has plenty of soul (dig that swingin' sound!), and certainly more so than Dr. John.

EDIT: Having watched a documentary about Ray Charles, I take it all back. He had more soul and groove in his hair follicles than most people have in their whole bodies.

Now The Beatles technically based their version of the cover by Eddie Cochran, an enormous figure in rockabilly music who developed his own style that seems to have inspired garage rock just as much as Merseybeat and future rockabilly revivalists- if all the garage rock covers of "Summertime Blues" are any indication, that is. The Beatles also owe a lot to his biggest hit "Twenty Flight Rock", which we'll discuss later.

The only other known recording of this song by the Beatles, unfortunately, has vocals by Horst Fascher, the manager of the Star Club in Hamburg, recorded in late December of 1962. He's a terrible singer, so it's a shame that we don't get to hear both a vocal performance by Paul and The Beatles playing a much tighter backing. But hey, that's what mash-ups are for, aren't they? (Good luck doing that with such poor quality mono, though...)

I think the fact that The Beatles played this song shows that The Beatles had no problem with music that swung- not everything The Beatles did had a backbeat, after all. In fact, Ringo's first musical experiences were listening to swing and big band songs, which is why his first solo album, Sentimental Journey, consisted of standards. I don't know if anyone is going to object to my comparing Ray Charles to white bread swing music, but heck, that's what my ears are hearing! Maybe I just don't know enough about jump blues or boogie woogie.

EDIT: I really regret saying this.

So now rhythm 'n' blues with a little bit of a swing to it is added to the list. That's the problem with music sometimes- it overlaps so much that you can't really categorize it, especially in the boiling pot that is the late '40s to early '60s...

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