I Want to Hold Your Hand…and then, America….

It was the first Beatles record I bought, but it wasn’t my favorite Beatles song.

“We wrote a lot of stuff together, one-on-one, eyeball to eyeball. Like in ‘I Want To Hold Your Hand,’ I remember when we got the chord that made the song. We were in Jane Asher’s house, downstairs in the cellar playing on the piano at the same time. And we had, ‘Oh you-u-u… got that something…’ And Paul hits this chord and I turn to him and say, ‘That’s it!’ I said, ‘Do that again!’ In those days, we really used to absolutely write like that – both playing into each other’s nose.” – John Lennon

Paul and John in 1964 (image courtesy Wikimedia)

Paul and John in 1964 (image courtesy Wikimedia)

I’d heard “She Loves You” in the fall of 1963, and, while the buddy I first heard it with (a story I have related before) mocked the song (as did the deejay who introduced it), I’d been immediately smitten, though I diplomatically kept my opinion to myself. Thereafter, when I listened to far away radio stations in big cities like Chicago and New York on my transistor radio at night when I was supposed to be going to sleep, I listened for “She Loves You.”

I think I may have heard it twice between that first time and the advent of what we know as Beatlemania. I freely admit that my memory of this period is fuzzy. I was in my 12th year and between the time I first heard “She Loves You” in mid-November and when I began hearing “I Want to Hold Your Hand” and other Beatles songs November 22, 1963 happened. Like most Americans I walked around in a dull daze  for a while, so I hope I may be forgiven for an imperfect memory of the timeline of events.

So, Christmas 1963 came and went. I got several replacement batteries for my transistor radio among my presents which kept me tuned in for a while. And I heard a couple of other Beatles songs. I’m pretty sure “Please Please Me” was one. And I have a distinct memory of hearing “Ask Me Why.”

But then Christmas break ended and it was back to school. And early in January 1964 I began hearing “I Want to Hold Your Hand” – a lot. By the end of January I was hearing it multiple times per night and beginning to hear other songs, too, both those mentioned above as well as “From Me to You,” “I Saw Her Standing There,” and “All My Loving.”

As January passed, I, like millions of others, fell in love with the Beatles.

Then came February 9th, 1964:

Everyone knows the stories – somewhere between 45 and 60 percent American televisions in use on that Sunday night were tuned to the Ed Sullivan show and over 73 million people watched. According to sources, or possibly urban legend, crime actually dropped during that hour. A  profound cultural change was precipitated; a lot of guys, me included, started to grow their hair long and learn the guitar.

As I said at the beginning of this essay, “I Want to Hold Your Hand” was not my favorite Beatles song at the time. In fact, when I finally stopped frittering away my 50 cents weekly allowance and made it to the local record store, my intention was to buy “She Loves You.” But when it came time to make my purchase, I hesitated. If I bought the Swan single of “She Loves You,” the B-side would be “I’ll Get You.” If I bought the Capitol single “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” the B-side would be “I Saw Her Standing There,” a song I liked lots better than “I’ll Get You.”  So I went for what seemed to be the better deal.

Of course, I bought “She Loves You” a couple of weeks later. And soon after “Please Please Me” and the rest.

But I bought “I Want to Hold Your Hand” first. And played right into the Beatles’ hands:

We were booked to go to America directly after the Paris trip, so it was handy to have a number one. We’d already been hired by Ed Sullivan, so if it had been a number two or number 10 we’d have gone anyway; but it was nice to have a number one. – George Harrison

Glad I could help you conquer America, George.

Here are the lyrics:

I Want To Hold Your Hand

Oh yeah, I’ll tell you something
I think you’ll understand
When I say that something
I wanna hold your hand
I wanna hold your hand
I wanna hold your hand

Oh please, say to me
You’ll let me be your man
And please, say to me
You’ll let me hold your hand
You let me hold your hand
I wanna hold your hand

And when I touch you I feel happy
Inside
It’s such a feeling that my love
I can’t hide
I can’t hide
I can’t hide

Yeah, you’ve got that something
I think you’ll understand
When I say that something
I wanna hold your hand
I wanna hold your hand
I wanna hold your hand

And when I touch you I feel happy
Inside
It’s such a feeling that my love
I can’t hide
I can’t hide
I can’t hide

Yeah, you’ve got that something
I think you’ll understand
When I feel that something
I wanna hold your hand
I wanna hold your hand
I wanna hold your hand
I wanna hold your hand

And here’s a remastered version of “I Want to Hold Your Hand.”

2 comments on “I Want to Hold Your Hand…and then, America….

  1. my ed Sullivan story is a little sadder. girl comes up to me in high school and says,” I know you like the allman bros, well they’re on ed Sullivan tonight.” didn’t seem right, but ok. was the Osmond brothers. “sometimes I feel like I been tied to the whipping post, but one bad apple don’t spoil the whole bunch girl. take the guitar solo, Donny.”

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