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Matchbox

The history of this classic Beatles song

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The original US 45 sleeve for

The original US 45 sleeve for "Matchbox"

source: dermon.com

Matchbox

Written by: Carl Perkins
Recorded: June 1, 1964 (Studio 2, Abbey Road Studios, London, England)
Mixed: June 2, 1964; June 22, 1964
Length: 1:57
Takes: 5
Musicians: John Lennon: rhythm guitar (1964 Rickenbacker 325)
Paul McCartney: bass guitar (1961 Hofner 500/1)
George Harrison: lead guitar (Gretsch 6119 "Tennessean")
Ringo Starr: lead vocals, drums (Ludwig)
George Martin: piano
First released: August 24, 1964 (US: Capitol 5255)
Available on: (CDs in bold)
  • Something New, (US: Capitol (S)T 2108, CDP 7243 8 66876 2 3)
  • Long Tall Sally (EP), (UK: Parlophone GEP 8913)
  • Past Masters Volume 1, (UK: Parlophone CDP 7 90043 2, US: Capitol CDP 7 90043 2)
Highest chart position: 17 (US: October 17, 1964)
History:
  • Originally a hit for rockabilly legend Carl Perkins in 1959, this song was first recorded as "Match Box Blues" by Blind Lemon Jefferson on March 14, 1927, and reworked by several bluesmen afterwards. The Beatles' version is clearly influenced by Perkins'.
  • The original first line in the song is "Sittin' here wonderin' will a matchbox hold my clothes," a reference to being poor. Perkins uses this line in his version, but Ringo sings both this line and "Sittin' here watchin', matchbox hole in my clothes," which are erroneously assumed by many to be the real lyrics. There are also verses present which don't exist in Perkins' original, suggesting the group had heard other interpretations.
  • Carl Perkins himself was present at this Hard Day's Night session, which also produced the songs "Slow Down," "I'll Cry Instead," and "I'll Be Back." Perkins, touring England at the time, was invited to the session by the Beatles, but his presence made the band quite nervous. Nevertheless, the band jammed with Carl on three song from his repertoire: "Sure To Fall (In Love With You)," "Sawdust Dance Floor," and "Your True Love," the only song Perkins could fully remember offhand. No recordings exist of the collaboration. At one point, Ringo referred to Carl as "Mr. Perkins," prompting him to say, "Son, I wish you'd call me Carl. Mr. Perkins is my daddy."
BBC radio versions: 2 (for the BBC radio programs Pop Goes The Beatles and From Us To You)
Trivia:
  • Though incorrectly labeled as running 1:37 on all original pressings, this song is indeed run one minute and fifty-seven seconds long.
  • This is the only song to be sung by three different Beatles -- original drummer Pete Best, who sang it during the Cavern Club days in Liverpool, John Lennon, who sang lead during the band's early Hamburg engagements, and Ringo, who sang it both on the BBC versions and here.
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