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- Posted on Apr 19th 2007 2:00PM by Dennis Diken
'It Won't Be Long,' The Beatles
From 1964's 'Meet the Beatles'
Over the course of nearly eight years as a performing and recording group, the Beatles dramatically changed their sound and image. Did they get better with time? My answer would be no. Different? To be sure. But better?
Don't get me wrong, I dig the lot of it, from 'Ask Me Why' to 'I've Got a Feeling.' But for my money, the Lennon/McCartney songwriting chops were already intact on their first album, and they were on fire from the steady gigging and fueled by the wild success of their initial conquest of Europe in 1963. Dare I say, they never sounded better as a combo than that year when they cut the tunes that formed the core of their debut American LP 'Meet the Beatles!'
'It Won't Be Long' is track No. 4 on Side One of said LP and it's a damn good song, where the verse, chorus and bridge are all totally memorable. Paul's ever-fluid playing, Ringo's sloshy swing and peerless fills and George's cascading guitar riff converge to concoct a feel that stands as a hook unto itself and perfectly supports John's searing double-tracked wail.
This number's got guts, soul, yearning. It's fierce, man, exciting as hell. And the "yeah yeah yeah" motif gives it a moptop-shakability that conjures the spirit of Beatlemania as much as anything they played on 'The Ed Sullivan Show.' And of course, there's those aeolian cadences. It sounds like nothing else that came before it or after. It's one of my very favorite Beatles recordings.
When we cut 'Meet the Smithereens!' we didn't set out to blatantly imitate our heroes but I will admit that I basked in the notion of "playing" Ringo at the session. I didn't try to ape the great man but I couldn't help tapping into his mojo. Heck, I do it just about every time I pick up my sticks!
What is John singing about anyhow? Bloody hell, who knows? Was he really feeling "so alone" or could it be that he was intuitively addressing America, soon to "belong" to him, along with the rest of the Fabs?
It is written that 'It Won't Be Long' was originally intended to be the Beatles' follow-up single to 'She Loves You.' And though it never saw life as a 45, it was deemed sturdy enough to snare listeners as the leadoff number on their sophomore UK LP 'With the Beatles' in late '63. For my money, it's every inch a hit, and would have stood the test, given the chance.
Dennis Diken is the drummer of the Smithereens, who cover 'It Won't Be Long' and 11 more Beatles classics on 'Meet the Smithereens.' Listen to the whole album for free.
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