Welcome to "Every Little Thing", a blog discussing all 214 songs released by the Beatles from 1962 to 1970....by Daniel Seth Levine.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

#27: Roll Over Beethoven

Written by: Chuck Berry
Released: November 22nd, 1963
Appears on: with the beatles
Lead vocal: George

Side two of with the beatles kicks off like a firecracker with Chuck Berry's immortal "Roll Over Beethoven" (here's a really cool performance by Berry). Every rock and roll artist has probably always dreamed about being able to get on stage and rip off that guitar intro (I have and I can't even play guitar) and The Beatles got to do it numerous times as the song became a stage favorite. George was the perfect vocal choice, considering that he'd been doing it since Hamburg and the fact that he's the lead guitarist, so why not let him sing one of the ultimate guitar songs?
An interesting historical note (coming from Bruce Spizer's fascinating books): When Capitol of Canada issued "Roll Over Beethoven" as a single after "I Want To Hold Your Hand", it became a top-ten single. Capitol in the US was actually considering issuing the single here, especially since imported copies of the Canadian single charted on Billboard. However, when George Martin caught wind of this idea, he told them to just wait a few weeks for "Can't Buy Me Love". Martin hated the idea that The Beatles' next his single might not only be a cover, but an older recording that didn't reflect how the group was at the time.
I find it interesting that, unlike many of the group's other covers, "Roll Over Beethoven" is able to stand next to Berry's original. I think everyone in the general public know that it is a cover and by one of the greats in rock and roll, whereas songs like "Twist And Shout" or "'Til There Was You" became part of America's conscious thanks to the Beatles. "Roll Over Beethoven" was a song that everyone knew in 1964 as a Chuck Berry song, yet people also warmed up to the idea of this British band succeeding with an American standard. This even surprised Capitol. Meet The Beatles! was built on the originals of with the beatles and the only cover they put on it was "'Til There Was You" because why would Americans want to hear American songs done by British musicians? The success of the Canadian "Roll Over Beethoven" 45 convinced Capitol that people would love to hear the Beatles no matter what song they do, so The Beatles' Second Album was built on the remaining covers. The front even advertised "Roll Over Beethoven" along with "She Loves You" as the hits on the album!

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