"She loves you yeah yeah yeah!!"
This is where Beatlemania begins. To countless millions around the world, this was also the beginning of the '60s.
Along with the then-shocking Beatle haircuts, this incredible song is the symbol, the signature tune of the early Beatles -the four happy, cheerful, chipper, and harmless mop tops. This is the Beatles before drugs, before Yoko Ono, before the facial hair, before the Maharishi, before the in-house fighting and bickering, before John said they were "more popular than Jesus." The song seems to encapsulate the image of the early Beatles, an image still held indelibly in the minds of millions of fans the world over.
"She Loves You" was written by John and Paul in very unremarkable circumstances. The two brilliant co-writers sat down in a hotel room on June 26, 1963, and dutifully knocked it out. They finished it up at McCartney's childhood home a few days later. This, by the way, was the first Beatles record of any kind with the publishing credit rendered as "Lennon-McCartney" rather than the other way around.
All songs written by John and Paul, even if one had written 90% or even the entire song themselves, were credited to John and Paul jointly. "She Loves You" seems to have been a genuine 50-50 collaborative effort.
At the time they composed it, the boys were on a bus tour, as a backup act for a teenage girl named Helen Shapiro. The song itself is unusual for a love song, in that it is a guy talking to another guy about a girl who loves the second guy.
John and Paul's original idea was an answer, back and forth, type song. According to Paul, the original plan was "a couple of us would sing 'she loves you' choruses and the others would do the 'yeah yeah yeah' ones. Then John and I agreed it was a pretty crummy idea… but at least we had the basic idea of writing the song." The answer Q&A was ditched, and instead, the "yeah yeah yeah" was tacked onto the opening line, a chorus in the middle, and the finish. The gimmick worked and the "yeah yeah yeah" became an early Beatles catchphrase. (Paul's father, a very proper Englishman, actually chided Paul for not using the more proper "yes yes yes" as the chorus.)
Another gimmick of John and Paul's was the constant use of pronouns in their early song titles. "She Loves You" followed "Love Me Do," "Please Please Me," and "From Me to You" in the Beatles canon. Another pronoun title, "I Want to Hold Your Hand," had actually preceded "She Loves You" to the top of the charts in America, and these two would be back-to-back number one hits for the Fab Four in early 1964. This rare event had only previously been accomplished by Elvis Presley in 1956.
Interestingly, "She Loves You" was released a few times in America on minor labels in 1963 and it flopped. There is an obscure reference to the song on page 32 of Billboard magazine in the September 21, 1963 issue. "She Loves You," issued on Swan records, is given a mention in the "four-star singles" section. Murray the K, the famous U.S. disc jockey, played the record in 1963 on his New York radio show and it placed third of five new singles issued that week. For whatever reason, although the Beatles were already a smash act in England, the record buyers of America answered the early Beatles records with a yawn of disinterest.
Americans at large got their first earful of "She Loves You" (and eyeful of the Beatles themselves) on a film clip of the Fab Four on The Jack Paar Show on January 3, 1964, one month before the Beatles arrived in the U.S. for the first time. Paar showed the brief clip and made a few withering, sarcastic remarks as the studio audience giggled at these strange-looking long-haired youths in their matching collarless jackets.
Today, we all live in such an "I've seen everything" society, we seem beyond shock (and I think we practically are). One has to put his or her mind into a 1964 mind-set to imagine how staggeringly shocking the Beatles and their haircuts were in the early days of 1964. The image the Beatles presented to Middle America in those gentler, milder (saner?) days would perhaps compare with us witnessing a flying saucer from another planet landing in the middle of New York City or maybe turning on the TV and seeing a group of female singers who performed topless.
In America, "She Loves You" entered the charts at #69 in January 25, 1964, and finally hit the #1 spot on March 21st.
In Britain, "She Loves You" was a staggering sales phenomenon. After spending several weeks at the top of the charts in the summer of 1963, it simply wouldn't go away. It hovered around the top spot and incredibly, rose to #1 again in November of '63, three months after its release. It remains the top-selling British Beatles single to this day.
British singer Kenny Lynch was a performer with the Beatles on their bus tour of 1963 and has clear memories of John and Paul. According to Lynch, "I remember John and Paul saying they were thinking of running up to the microphone and shaking their heads and saying 'Whoooo.'" Lynch warned them against this radical idea: "You can't do that. They'll think you're a bunch of poofs."
But the boys did incorporate their hair-shaking shtick into their live performances of "She Loves You," albeit with George and Paul, not John and Paul. As if Beatlemaniacs weren't excited enough, the bit by George and Paul always drove the girls into a complete frenzy.
"She Loves You" is an exhilarating, breezy electronic song that, to use the stale cliche, sounds as fresh today as the day it was written. One can easily view it at YouTube or on various Beatles websites. The number was also performed by the Beatles in their first film A Hard Day's Night, which is highly recommend viewing, whether you've never seen it or have watched it about 100 times (like me! A Hard Day's Night is, far and away, my all-time favorite movie!).