The Beatles, A Hard Day’s Night and ‘If I Fell’

Last time I mentioned that the hard graft part of my college course is now over, so to reward myself I indulged in a bit of a wallow in the distant past, revisiting old footage of the Beatles at the height of Beatlemania. This came about because I’d recently re-read my Christmas stocking book, Nothing Is Real: The Beatles Were Underrated And Other Sweeping Statements About Pop, by David Hepworth. A bit of non-fiction was needed as a foil to the very literary books I’ve had to dissect of late and there is nothing I enjoy more than a rock and pop anthology. The first section of the book contained essays on the Beatles, and yet again (I’ve mentioned some of David’s other books around here before), I learnt so much that was new to me.

I knew the Beatles had been in existence for some time before their breakthrough year 1963, but it wasn’t until Ringo Starr was recruited in September 1962 that they truly became a group (they weren’t called bands in those days). He was the best drummer in Liverpool at the time and the rest of the lads liked him, so once it was decided that Pete Best had to go, in those days before house telephones, Brian Epstein turned up at his family home in one of the less salubrious parts of that city to ask if he wanted to join the group. The rest as they say is history. Ringo was more than happy to change his slicked back hair to mop-top style, and wear the smart suits Brian had insisted the lads adopt. His unique style of drumming was pivotal in creating the Beatles’ sound and a lot of that was down to the fact he was born left-handed, but his superstitious grandmother wouldn’t let him use his left hand so he learned to play on a right-handed kit. It meant his route round the drum kit was a bit different to that of other drummers which is why other bands found it so hard to copy their sound exactly.

Anyway, I had enjoyed reading all these snippets in David’s book so much, I decided to search for moving images of the Beatles on some of the many avenues available to us on our tellies nowadays. It didn’t take long for me to find their 1964 film A Hard Day’s Night (on Amazon Prime), and what a joy it was to watch it again straight after reading the book, as there was so much more to look out for now that I knew more of the Fab Four backstories.

Within the first 10 seconds, both George and Ringo have fallen over!

The film has a plot of sorts, but it was essentially about Beatlemania and was a vehicle to showcase some of the songs written especially for the soundtrack. It was early reality television, where we saw the lads lark around in between rehearsals, exhibiting their individual personalities, but best of all they sang those simple (but not simple) love songs that were aimed at their young teenage market. Every time I watch the film I warm most to this song, If I Fell, possibly because it’s not one of the ones that’s become overfamiliar but also because we get to see them ‘at work’ interacting with each other whilst they rehearse for the show. I hadn’t noticed before but I also like how the beat to the song comes from Ringo simply tapping the metal side of the snare drum with his drumstick (0:32) – Maybe this is ‘a thing’ in the world of drumming, but I’d never taken heed of it before.

If I Fell by the Beatles:

It’s an accident of birth of course, but had I been born ten years earlier I would have been just the right demographic for Beatlemania, but I wasn’t, I only had Rollermania which was a pale imitation. What I noticed most about watching the film this week however, was just how much joy exuded from the screen. The Fab Four were still finding their feet as a band experiencing something that had never occurred before in the UK. Their fans adored them and they thought they were the luckiest guys in the world.

I knew if I looked hard enough I would find them, and I did. Here are seven of a series of 60 trading cards issued by A&BC, with chewing gum, back in 1964. I thought they might be worth something, but once I visited the ‘well-known online auction site’ I realised there are still many of them out there. I’m pretty sure they weren’t bought by me as there is no way my mum allowed me to have chewing gum at age four (‘if you swallow it it’ll stick to the inside of your tummy’), so I reckon they probably came via my older cousins who often came to stay in the summer holidays. Nice little bit of memorabilia though, and perfect for my wallow in all things Beatles-related this last week.

Trading cards from a set issued by A&BC in 1964

Until next time…

If I Fell
(Song by John Lennon/Paul McCartney)

If I fell in love with you
Would you promise to be true
And help me understand
Cause I’ve been in love before
And I found that love was more
Than just holding hands

If I give my heart to you
I must be sure
From the very start
That you would love me more than her

If I trust in you oh please
Don’t run and hide
If I love you too oh please

Don’t hurt my pride like her
Cause I couldn’t stand the pain
And I would be sad if our new love was in vain

So I hope you see that I
Would love to love you
And that she will cry

When she learns we are two
Cause I couldn’t stand the pain
And I would be sad if our new love was in vain

So I hope you see that I
Would love to love you
And that she will cry
When she learns we are two
If I fell in love with you

Author: Alyson

Whenever I hear an old song on the radio, I am immediately transported back to those days. I know I'm not alone here and want to record those memories for myself and for the people in them. 57 years ago the song "Alfie" was written by my favourite songwriting team, Bacharach and David. The opening line to that song was, "What's it all about?" and I'm hoping by writing this blog, I might find the answer to that question.

10 thoughts on “The Beatles, A Hard Day’s Night and ‘If I Fell’”

    1. I’ve only ever seen it on television sadly but it has now been remastered so the quality is much better. Glad they made it in black and white although that was from an economic point of view. They weren’t expected to be popular for long, so no one wanted to invest in colour!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I feel so lucky to have been born early enough to fully appreciate the impact of the Beatles. “Beatlemania”, the Canadian cover of “With The Beatles”, was released in Canada in November 1963. While this LP was the Beatles 2nd release in the UK, it was the first released in Canada. This ’15 year old’, had it on his 1963 Christmas list! The following February, the Fab Four visited the Ed Sullivan Show in New York and the rest as they say is ‘history’.
    Very few local (Montreal area) bands had the courage to cover Beatles songs. Forget about the intricacies of Ringo’s left-handed drumming, the chords were a challenge for bands used to playing ‘Wipeout’ and ‘Sweet Little Sixteen’ (G, G7, C)
    The Doo Wop sounds of the 50s had become much ‘lighter’, due to the cover versions by the likes of Pat Boone. Girl groups and individuals (Peggy March, Marcie Blaine, Skeeter Davis) had risen to the top of the charts. The rock and roll pioneered by Buddy Holly, Gene Vincent and Elvis had been softened by the likes of the Beach Boys and the Four Seasons. Although Cliff Richard was popular in Canada, he hadn’t made a significant dent in the US.
    The world was definitely ready for the Beatles. Radio stations fell all over themselves to play and chart as many Beatle songs as they could get their hands on. For the week of March 30, 1964, five Beatles songs were in the top ten of radio station CHUM in Toronto. In less than six months, the Beatles had travelled from obscurity to ‘top of mind’ with Canadians under the age of 30.
    As I said, I feel so lucky to have been around at the time.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks as ever for dropping by with your thoughts. As I said above, because I’d read David’s book I revisited the film and after that I watched a few of the many documentaries about early Beatles and Beatlemania, then I watched the film again. It’s quite telling that David Hepworth and all three of the people who have left comments on this post are around the same age, and all of you were the perfect age for the Beatles when they first found fame. You were the lucky ones and although most of my generation probably say they prefer the Beatles songs of their 1967-1970 studio phase, it can’t be denied that these early songs were a ‘slice of perfect pop’ that gave so much joy to their fans. Heck, I’m a middle-aged woman, and it’s the 21st century, but even I got caught up in Beatlemania watching them on the small screen and revisiting the songs. The early sixties were an exciting time and although I can just about remember the Beatles on telly, I was far too young really, and remember them best from my teenage years when the compilation albums came out and the films were shown on telly.

      Thanks for sharing how they cracked Canada – overnight sensations it seems. What a busy time for them though, touring the world, writing copious amounts of songs, making films, appearing on telly – all because no-one thought a pop career would last longer than two or three years. They definitely showed they were a cut above the rest though, with the Lennon-McCartney songwriting partnership, their musicianship, George’s guitar-playing and Ringo’s unique style of drumming. (They were also all really cute in their suits and mop-tops and had I been a teenage girl back then, I think Paul would have been my favourite Beatle!)

      Liked by 1 person

  2. David Hepworth and Mark Ellen rarely get through an episode of their Word in Your Ear podcast without mentioning The Beatles at least once or twice, but if you want to take a reasonably deep dive into Fab Four Folklore, I’d recommend the highly entertaining Nothing is Real podcast. There are more Beatles pods out there than you can shake a stick at, several of them very good, but Nothing is Real, while being packed to the gills with rigorously researched information, is a very easy listen and lots of fun, thanks to the thoroughly engaging hosts Steven Cockcroft and Jason Carty. They’ve just kicked off Season 6, but all the back episodes are available here

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I love David’s books and I love the folklore so thanks for the recommendation. I hadn’t watched Hard Day’s Night for a while until last week and each time I watch it I have more folklore in my arsenal so appreciate them all the more.

      They had Brian Epstein to guide them but with their songwriting abilities, their apprenticeship years in Hamburg and the Cavern, their good looks and musicianship, they couldn’t fail. I love how the classic line-up on stage was always the same, John with his distinctive stance on the right, Paul on the left with his guitar pointing left, George in the middle with his pointing right and Ringo at the back. Three singers too which was unusual for those days. I always say around here that my first musical memories are from age 6/7 but I think all of us born in 1960 will have very early Beatles memories. They were omnipresent.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Lovely post, Alyson. I wish I could remember where I saw it but there was something I was watching a while back where much was spoken about Ringo’s drumming technique and how he really should be admired for it – and now is, by many such as Dave Grohl and Stewart Copeland – instead of being the butt of jokes and critical comments, e.g. “… he’s not even the best drummer in the Beatles…”. Once you start to listen and look out for it, it all falls into place.
    I love ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ and I think I could watch it countless times and never tire of it. A lovely snapshot of the time and style as much as anything else, and I love the humour.
    Talking of early Beatles too, did you ever see the film ‘Backbeat’, centred mostly around their days in Hamburg with much focus on the love story of Stuart Sutcliffe and Astrid Kirchherr? It’s many years since I saw it but I really enjoyed it (and I’m a big fan of Stuart and Astrid’s look!) A great cast too.
    I keep meaning to write a post one day about going to Liverpool for a Beatles weekend with Mr SDS in the ’80s. It was very interesting for all the historical and biographical info and locations, but full of… erm… well, you know how strange the most diehard fans can be!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi – So you too have fond memories of watching the early Beatles. We were both far too young for Beatlemania but it was the first mania to hit the UK so quite something in those days of only two television channels and limited access to info about your favourite pop stars.

      Yes, Ringo was a fine drummer and that quote attributed to John Lennon was a bit of a flippant remark, the kind he often made then probably regretted I think. Ringo seemed to be the steady, reliable band member who always turned up on time, sat at his drumkit and did what was asked of him without questioning it too much. He is on tour just now apparently and seems to have had a fine life.

      I loved the film Backbeat and saw it when it came out. Was a great insight to life in Hamburg before it all took off for them. Stuart was the one who came up with the combed forward hair wasn’t he but sadly he died at such a young age.

      I think you’ve mentioned that weekend before in Liverpool. B&Bs with wild wallpaper and fanatical fans. Yes please, a post about that weekend would be very amusing.

      Liked by 1 person

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