Song facts: I Saw Her Standing There

The song was written primarily by Paul McCartney with the original title Seventeen. According to Beatles' biographer Mark Lewisohn McCartney hatched the idea for the song while driving home from a Beatles' gig in Southport, Lancashire on October 22nd 1962. That same night he worked out the chords on an acoustic guitar at the family home of his friend Rory Storm.

Two days later on October 24th McCartney began writing lyrics during a London trip with his then-girlfriend Celia Mortimer, who was seventeen years old at the time.  

Lennon helped McCartney finish off the lyrics; suggesting changes here and there. When Paul showed John the early lyrics She was just seventeen, never been a beauty queen, Lennon reportedly burst into laughter and so the words took a different shape.

"We were learning our skill. John would like some of my lines and not others. He liked most of what I did, but there would sometimes be a cringe line, such as, 'She was just seventeen, she'd never been a beauty queen.' John thought, 'Beauty queen? Ugh.' We were thinking of Butlins so we asked ourselves, what should it be? We came up with, 'You know what I mean.' Which was good, because you don't know what I mean." - Paul McCartney
"That's Paul doing his usual good job of producing what George Martin used to call a 'potboiler'. I helped with a couple of the lyrics." - John Lennon

Recording

The song was recorded in one day at Abbey Road on February 11th 1963. During this monster session the Beatles recorded 10 of the 14 songs on Please Please Me

McCartney counted in the track One, two, three, four!, something that is usually cut out of a finished song; but producer George Martin had the idea of keeping it on the track to give the impression it was a live performance.

The count-in comes from take 9 which Martin felt was especially spirited and spliced into take 1. The full version of take 9 was subsequently released on the Free as a Bird single in 1994. 

Personnel

  • Paul McCartney – lead vocals, bass, handclaps
  • John Lennon – rhythm guitar, harmony vocals, handclaps
  • George Harrison – lead guitar, handclaps
  • Ringo Starr – drums, handclaps

Release  

I Saw Her Standing There was released on the Beatles' debut album Please Please Me on March 22nd 1963 and as the B-side to the US single I Want to Hold Your Hand. The song peaked at number 14 on the Billboard Hot 100.

 Please Please Me album cover, 1963. 

Please Please Me album cover, 1963. 

 Paul McCartney and John Lennon rehearsing at 20 Forthlin Road, Liverpool, circa 1962.

Paul McCartney and John Lennon rehearsing at 20 Forthlin Road, Liverpool, circa 1962.

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