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The Beatles Songs: She Said She Said

The history of this classic Beatles song

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The Beatles Songs: She Said She Said

John Lennon's original handwritten lyrics for "She Said She Said"

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She Said She Said

Written by: John Lennon (100%)
(credited to Lennon-McCartney)

Recorded: June 21, 1966 (Studio 2, Abbey Road Studios, London, England)
Mixed: June 21 and 22, 1966
Length: 2:33
Takes: 4

Musicians:

John Lennon: lead vocals (double-tracked), backing vocals, rhythm guitar (1965 Epiphone E230TD(V) Casino), harmonium (Mannborg)
George Harrison: harmony vocals, backing vocals, lead guitar (1965 Epiphone E230TD(V) Casino), bass guitar (1966 Burns Nu-Sonic)
Ringo Starr: drums (Ludwig), shaker

Available on: (CDs in bold)
Revolver (UK: Parlophone PMC 7009; PCS 7009; US: Capitol (S)T 2576; Parlophone CDP 7 46441 2)

History:

  • The last song recorded for Revolver, "She Said She Said" also has one of the most famous backstories in all of Beatledom. While touring the US West Coast in 1965, the band rented out a big Los Angeles house at 7655 Curson Terrace, with the intention to keep them away from screaming fans. However, word soon got out, and the Beatles had no recourse but to invite other guests to the sprawling rental they could no longer leave. On the night of August 24, 1965, John and George decided to "drop" some sugar cubes of LSD they'd been carrying around for just such an occasion, having only been dosed once before and never of their own accord. Although they attempted to get the whole band to partake, Paul declined. Ringo began shooting pool with the cue the wrong way around; only John and George attempted to tune in to the experience, but George began to feel like he was dying and John, having just watched the new Jane Fonda/Lee Marvin Western Cat Ballou at the party and finding it not to his liking, became increasingly agitated.
  • Here's where the stories differ. Jane's brother, actor Peter Fonda, was also at the party, along with Joan Baez, actress Eleanor Bron (from Help!) and the Byrds. Peter claims that he tried to calm George down from his "death trip" by claiming "It's okay, I know what it's like to be dead." (Fonda had injured himself with a rifle as a boy and had his heart stop three times on the operating table.) He claims John overheard this and said, "You're making me feel like I've never been born! Who put all that s**t in your head?" John's own later and perhaps more creditable recollection claims only that Fonda kept telling John and George he knew what it was like to be dead, apropos of nothing, and that John said nothing like that to him, but avoided him the rest of the night as a result. (The Byrds' Roger McGuinn claims John was taking his anger on Jane and her "bad" film out on brother Peter.)
  • Whatever the case, John was intrigued by Peter's phrase, and in March 1966 made working demos of what was to become "She Said She Said," changing the gender of the title because it sounded better with "said." The first acoustic demo features only the chorus with a rudimentary bridge; there are some phrases present that would later be dropped, like "You're making me feel like my trousers are torn," "I must be out of my head," and "I don't love you more when he's dead," and some that would be amended, such as "Who put all that crap in your head?" George, for his part, claims that he later went over to John's house and inspired the complex, off-time bridge, claiming he suggested that John take part of another song he'd been working on ("When I was a boy...") and insert it there.
  • Still, the song wouldn't have even seen the light of day, but on the very last day of the Revolver sessions, a day set aside for mixing, it was discovered that the album was a song short. John immediately taught the band the song, and after 25 rehearsal takes, it was recorded in one 14-hour session, overdubs and all. Notably absent from the session was Paul, who apparently had stormed off due to an argument no one in the band can remember. George took over on bass, using a guitar on loan from a nearby shop called Sound City, the same bass he'd already played on the b-side "Rain."
  • Take 4 was the basic track, featuring George on bass, John on guitar, and Ringo's drums. John then added another rhythm guitar part, George added lead, including the intro and phrases that answer's John's vocal in the verse; John and George came up with a harmony part, and Ringo added percussion. The final piece of the puzzle was the harmonium, a sort of air organ already used by the group on the Rubber Soul track "You Won't See Me." John's vocals were double-tracked and, having been recorded at a slower speed, were sped up slightly, and the Revolver album was complete.

Trivia:

  • This is the second Beatles song to feature a change in meter: the first was "We Can Work It Out," where George suggested a move from 4/4 to 3/4 in the bridge. He got John to do the same thing here, but the "When I was a boy" section moves to 6/4 as well!
  • Ringo's drum performance is widely considered one of his best; it utilizes many of the stop-time breakdowns and fills he'd previously used on "Rain." His cymbals were also heavily compressed to add to the jangly, harsh, "acid" feel of the song.
  • "That was a drug song. Probably the only one." -- John Lennon, 1980

Covered by: Ween, The Black Keys, Matthew Sweet, Gov't Mule, Overwhelming Colorfast, The Feelies, Tom Newman, Lone Star, The Weans, The Chords, The Snake River Conspiracy, Mark Mulcahy, The Walking Seeds, Rainbow Canyon, Yeah Yeah Noh

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