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"I Want To Hold Your Hand"

Categories: Beatles songs

Britain's 1963 Christmas number one spot was assured by the million-plus advance orders for the "I Want To Hold Your Hand" single (another industry first). The continuing lack of response to the band from across The Pond, however, was a more prevalent concern, particularly with their first US tour booked for the New Year. The hype caused by an imported copy on a Washington radio station provoked Capitol Records to rush-release it on Boxing Day, with a huge (for the day) promo budget.

And thus commenced Beatlemania, Stateside-style...

Such was the demand (1/4 million copies in the first three days alone) that Capitol had to get other companies to help with the pressing! The Beatles, already on American soil, breaking viewing records on The Sullivan Show and getting Murray the K ranting (along with just about everyone else), finally made the coveted Billboard number one spot in February.

Within twelve months, they'd clocked up no less than seven: Kings of the World, with an average age of 22.

Consolidating the energy levels set by "She Loves You", and recorded in — gasp — four-track, it's still hard to hear the opening guitar onslaught without mentally overdubbing the hysterical screaming. That's probably why a live version is featured on LOVE, right after Uncle Ed's immortal intro.

Don't worry too much about the lyric; just listen to the way they deliver it. And of course, there're those ever-infectious handclaps offsetting the shuffling hi-hats and snare-crack rolls. Them cranked-up guitars don't let up, neither. Just another one of those great little pop songs that John and Paul wrote "into one another's noses".

An early American admirer was Bob Dylan, who regarded them as cutting-edge musicians, being particularly wowed by their 'outrageous' chord sequences and vocal harmonies. Got that right on this little number, but mistook the line "I can't hide" for "I get high" — which is obviously why he had a big bag of grass with him when they met in New York later in the year.

It's difficult to underestimate the importance of that particular encounter: not only on the Beatles themselves, but on the course of popular music in general...

A certain Ms Slick, however, was less flattering about the 'overly-innocent' lyrics. Ah, come on Gracie — did you honestly believe that they'd've limited themselves to hand-holding, had you invited them round for a smoke?!!
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