#1101: Sie Liebt Dich by The Beatles

Peak Month: July 1964
5 weeks on Vancouver’s CFUN chart
Peak Position #8
Peak Position on Billboard Hot 100 #97

In June 1963 The Beatles were on a tour of the United Kingdom with Roy Orbison and Gerry and the Pacemakers. It was on the tour bus that Paul McCartney and John Lennon started to write “She Loves You”. It was in their hotel room after their June 26th concert at the Majestic Ballroom in Newcastle upon Tyne they made more progress with the lyrics and the melody for “She Loves You“.

Paul McCartney was interviewed about the songs origins by the Liverpool Daily Post in an article published on 23 February 2003. He told the reporter the initial idea for the song began while on their tour bus hearing songs on the radio in June 1963. On May 29, 1963, American teen idol, Bobby Rydell, released a single in the UK called “Forget Him“. As it was climbing the UK charts McCartney and Lennon noted the song with its call and response pattern. McCartney said in the interview with reporter Laura Davies “as often happens, you think of one song when you write another … I’d planned an ‘answering song’ where a couple of us would sing ‘she loves you’ and the other ones would answer ‘yeah yeah’. We decided that was a crummy idea but at least we then had the idea of a song called ‘She Loves You’. So we sat in the hotel bedroom for a few hours and wrote it—John and I, sitting on twin beds with guitars.” The song was finished the next day while the Beatles were hanging out at McCartney’s family home in Forthlin Road, Liverpool. When McCartney’s father heard the song performed in the family living room his dad suggested they change the lyric to “She loves you, yes, yes, yes.”

The title for “She Loves You” was framed around the use of personal pronouns. This was typical of Beatles song titles at the time that included “From Me to You,” “Please, Please Me“, “Thank You Girl” and “Do You Want To Know A Secret“. But unusually for a love song, the lyrics are not about the narrator’s love for someone else; instead the narrator functions as a helpful go-between for estranged lovers:

You think you lost your love,
Well, I saw her yesterday.
It’s you she’s thinking of –
And she told me what to say.
She says she loves you …

This idea was attributed by Lennon to McCartney in 1980: “It was Paul’s idea: instead of singing ‘I love you’ again, we’d have a third party. That kind of little detail is still in his work. He will write a story about someone. I’m more inclined to write about myself.”

The first time John Lennon ever heard a song use the words “yeah yeah” was on “All Shook Up” by Elvis Presley. According to Ian MacDonald in his book Revolution in the Head: The Beatles’ Records and the Sixties, John Lennon recalled “I don’t know where the ‘yeah yeah yeah’ came from [but] I remember when Elvis did ‘All Shook Up’ it was the first time in my life that I had heard ‘uh huh’, ‘oh yeah’, and ‘yeah yeah’ all sung in the same song”. “She Loves You” also included a number of “wooooo”‘s that Lennon credited the Isley Brothers’ recording of “Twist and Shout” as the source of their inspiration, a song the Beatles would later record.

“She Loves You” was released on 23 August 1963 in the UK. It peaked at #1 on 12 September  and stayed there for four consecutive weeks. Then Brian Poole and The Tremeloes took the #1 spot on 10 October with “Do You Love Me”. Gerry and The Pacemakers bumped the Tremeloes from the #1 spot when “You’ll Never Walk Alone” took the Pacemakers to the top spot on 31 October. But after four weeks at number one, “She Loves You” re-entered the #1 spot on 28 November for two more weeks. In Vancouver the song debuted on the 14 December CFUN chart and soon spent four weeks at #1. South of the border it debuted on the 25 January Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1964, eventually peaking at #2 while The Beatles “I Want to Hold Your Hand” took the #1 spot.

In the UK it was Parlophone Records that recorded “She Loves You”. Parlophone Records was owned by EMI. The German division of EMI believed the only way to sell Beatles records in Germany was to offer German translations of their songs. So the Beatles were pressed to re-record their songs German. The band was in France for a 19-day series of concerts at the Olympia Theatre. The recording session was scheduled for 27 January, but the Beatles were reluctant to attend it.

“Komm, gib mir deine Hand” (“I Want To Hold Your Hand”) was the first song to be recorded. It took eleven takes, but the Beatles German vocals were mixed with the original instrumental track. In the case of “She Loves You” the instrumental recording was destroyed by EMI after it had been mixed for mono. As a result the Beatles had to re-record “Sie Liebt Dich” from the beginning. It took thirteen takes to record the instrumental and then the German vocals for  “Sie Liebt Dich.”

 

The song charted to #97 on the Billboard Hot 100. It went to #1 in San Bernardino, California, and Akron, Ohio. But outside these two record markets the song was mostly given a pass. It peaked at #6 in Regina and at #8 on CFUN in Vancouver.

Beatles - Sie Liebt Dich 45 (Capitol Canada).jpg

If George Martin had doubted a foreign language song could sell in another record market, he could have considered the success of several other charted songs from the late ’50s and early ’60s. In 1960 a German language song, “Seemann (Deine Heimat ist das Meer)” climbed up the charts internationally including in Australia, the United States and Canada under the English title “Sailor (Your Home is the Sea)“. The song, written by Werner Scharfenberger and lyricist Fini Busch, was recorded by Austrian singer Edith `Ditta’ Einzinger under the name Lolita. It became an international hit over 1960-61, peaking at #1 on CFUN the last week of October 1960.

In 1963 Kyu Sakamoto had an international hit with his #1 1961 hit in Japan called “Sukiyaki“. The song was recorded in English by the pop group A Taste of Honey who had a Top Ten hit in North America with “Sukiyaki” in 1981. Also in 1963 the Singing Nun had a French language song called “Dominique” that was an international #1 hit.

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