Friday, January 1, 2010

The Beatles and musical history: "In Spite of All the Danger"

"In Spite of All the Danger" is the very first original composition that The Beatles recorded, although it certainly isn't the first song they ever wrote (that would be Paul's "I Lost My Little Girl"). Now that we've reached their original songs in this series, we'll be making comparisons to other songs that inspired them. We'll also find that it isn't always clear what inspired the song- often, its really only easy to determine that sort of thing when one of the Beatles actually describes the process.
Also, despite the amount of songs they wrote, performed, and admired from '58-'62, not all of them were recorded until much later. Despite this, I feel that it'd be less confusing and paint a much clearer picture of their early days to write about them early on, instead of writing about them after I've gone through a number of their solo albums.

For example: I plan to write about the cover songs and early compositions found on the Let It Be sessions, John Lennon's Rock 'n' Roll, Paul McCartney's Снова в СССР and Run Devil Run and other miscellaneous solo efforts after I write about The Beatles' 1960 home recordings and before moving on to the Tony Sheridan recordings- which is the approximate time period in which these songs entered The Beatles universe, so to speak.

"In Spite of All the Danger" is notable because it's the only song credited to McCartney/Harrison, although Paul himself has said that he wrote it himself and George just played the solo. I wouldn't be surprised if George came up with the song's particular fretwork, though. The song is sort your typical slow tempo doo-wop-ish, country-ish number that many a 1950s white singer within the rock/pop spectrum would sing- I've read once that it might be an attempt to emulate Elvis' "Trying to Get to You". Let's make a comparison, shall we?

Hmm... well, it certainly is wilder than "In Spite of All the Danger", but the structure is very, very similar. That's good enough for me! Of course, goodness knows if it's the only influence, or even if the influence was conscious.

This song is one of the few from this early point in their songwriting career that would be heard from again after The Beatles became famous- that is, Paul has proven that he hasn't forgotten the song (although I'll bet the Anthology project helped) by performing it as part of his 2004-05 world tour setlist.

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