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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Komm, Gib Mir Deine Hand & Sie Liebt Dich

The Beatles had been on the verge of stardom the last time they played in Hamburg, but despite the fact that they had achieved international fame in the interim, Odeon, EMI's West German division, said that in order to sell more records, the group would need to record in German.  The boys felt that this wasn't necessary, but producer George Martin and manager Brain Epstein were somehow convinced by this argument.

And so it was that Martin and engineer Norman Smith arrived in Paris for a session on January 29th, 1964.  The Beatles were in the midst of a three-week engagement in the City of Light (playing for strangely less-than-enthusiastic audiences) and could not get away to London, so it was arranged that they would record the German versions of their two biggest hits at EMI Pathe Marconi Studios.

In The Beatles: Recording Sessions, Mark Lewisohn relates an amusing anecdote about the boys trying to blow off the session and George Martin having to literally drag them to the studio.  Once there, however, they got the work done in record time.

Because I Want to Hold Your Hand had been recorded on four-track tape, Martin had been able to make a tape-to-tape transfer of the rhythm track only and bring it with him to the Paris studio.  This meant that John and Paul only had to sing the German lyrics and add handclaps and the new version would be complete.  With the help of a translator named Nicholas, this was quickly accomplished.  She Loves You had to be a complete re-make.  It took the group thirteen takes to get the rhythm track correct, but only one for John, Paul and George to add the new lyrics.

Once the Beatles became big in the US, so insatiable was the American appetite for anything recorded by the Fab Four that these songs actually became available over here.  Swan Records, which only had the rights to She Loves You, released Sie Liebt Dich as a single with the original B-side I'll Get You.  Amazingly, my mother found this record in a local department store in New Bedford and, assuming that I would appreciate it, bought it for me.  I have to admit that I found it quite odd at the time, and it is only with the passing of many years that I came to understand the value of what I had in my possession.  Not to be outdone, Capitol Records added Komm, Gib Mir Deine Hand to an album entitled Something New. 

Was it absolutely necessary for Die Beatles to rerecord their biggest hits in German?  Probably not.  Suffice it to say they never did so again.

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