Monday, May 5, 2008

Anna (Go to Him) (Beatles Week)

The Beatles
Please Please Me
"Anna (Go to Him)"

In addition to being formidable composers, the Beatles were among the best interpreters of the era – they certainly had more skill covering soul ballads than the Stones, whose attempts were timid and uncertain. Here John Lennon has a go at Arthur Alexander's great "Anna (Go to Him)", which features a neat stop-and-start drum pattern and an infectious rhythm piano part (played by George Harrison on guitar for the Beatles version).

Here is Arthur Alexander's original:

As you can hear, the Beatles didn't really change anything about the arrangement. In an earlier blog entry I called their cover a charming homage, but now I think I was selling them short – Lennon is really working hard, and seems to have ambitions beyond just paying tribute to a favoured influence. He isn't trying to cop Alexander's phrasing or anything – it almost seems like Lennon is, in his own way, trying to beat Alexander at his own game. This is far more than the Stones ever attempted, at least at this stage in their careers, and if the Beatles didn't quite match the original's quality, they got close.