"Anna" was written and first recorded by the late, great Arthur Alexander: one of the lesser-known but most respected singers of the early sixties' American soul boom. "You Better Move On" was another of his tunes, which maybe helps to put into perspective his influence on the burgeoning British scene back then.
The song (which should more properly be subtitled "Go With
Him") is an absolute corker. Arthur's version is cool as a cucumber: do check it out if you don't know it. But The Beatles' — Lennon's — fine-tunes the angst so acutely that it gains an extra dimension. The entire performance is absolutely spine-chilling. Start with John's vocal — he sings his little heart out here, never mnd the streaming cold he was carrying:
But ev'ry girl I've ever had
Breaks my heart and leaves me sad...
What are you supposed to do? George Martin's discreet echo is quite simply superb in reverberating the emotional impact of the already supercharged delivery: a great demonstration of the way he 'clicked' with the band right from the start. Love the way, too, that the haunting harmonies rise and fall in the mix, adding to the edginess of it all: "Ohhhh A-a-n-na!"
Musically, it's easily as competent as anything else on the album: not too many risks, but very, very together. Ringo handles the slightly off-beat rhythm just fine (and dig those hi-hats!), leaving Paul to start to find that bass could be melodic. George transfers the piano fills from the original to guitar with such panache that, given the choice between the two versions, I'll "go with him..."