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Long Tall Sally

Composer(s) : Lennon and McCartney
Year :

Chords/Tabs: Long Tall Sally

Notes On The 'Long Tall Sally' EP (LTSEP)

Long Tall Sally
Slow Down


What Goes On ?

- With the exception of the much later "Magical Mystery Tour", this was the only one of the British EPs to contain unique material, and what a strange lineup it is: three covers from the not-so-late 50s and one original from John's compositional infancy! And these songs are not just old per se, but they (the covers especially) are very different in words and tone from most of what the group had heretofore delivered.

- The impact of this was blunted for us in the States by the way these four tracks were split up by Capitol between the "Second" and "Something New" LPs, and thrown in there alongside generally more current and/or original material. However, when you hear this lineup in the confines of the 7-inch/4-song mini-medium you can't help wonder what in blazes the group thought it was doing here.

- If you want to be cynical about it you might say they were under pressure at the time for new product and simply couldn't do any better; that between the Conquering of America and A Hard Day's work on the film, which had not yet been released, they had momentarily shot their wad and it was surely tempting enough to move out old inventory on the assumption that, during this hottest peak of Beatlemania, no one would even notice. But not so fast, wise guy. There are at least two other interpretations that can be cast upon the matter; the one, at least benign, and the other even a tad sublime.

Now That You Know Who You Are, What Do You Want to Be ?

- If nothing else, I believe the song selection on this EP can be viewed as the result of the Beatles self-consciously exposing their roots, as if to say "this is what we used to be like before we made it big!" But something much more interesting than mere nostalgia is going on here as well.

- They had been consistent from the start of the EMI relationship in carefully, incrementally building a consistent musical image; it was more substantive than, but bears some analogy to, the collarless suits and ankle boots. In this sense, covers were used in the early official releases to inobtrusively "round out" and solidify, rather than complicate and thereby run the risk of confusing, what was rapidly evolving as a uniquely indigenous and identifiable sound.

- Yet, here in the middle of 1964, where this whole musical and marketing gambit had culminated to a height virtually unprecedented in all of Western cultural history (and I don't say this lightly!), it would seem with this EP that they were, with almost perverse delight, trying to push their image beyond the envelope they themselves had established for it by branching out into new sub-genres, and borrowing/affecting/impersonating musical roles outside of the ones which were recognizably part of their image and sound during the very first wave. It's as though, with the cover songs on this EP they were saying "Surprise! this is what we *could* be like if we want to be." The fact that they could achieve this by dipping backwards in their repertoire for material they had been playing since the dawn of the 60s only goes to make it the more ironic.

- Granted, we saw a trend toward covering oldies back on "With The Beatles", but I'd argue that in terms of vocal rendition and lyrical content, the likes of "Till There Was You" (as a love song), and "Roll Over Beethoven" (with its trenchant wit) manage to fit in better amongst the L&M originals there than any of the three cover songs heard on this EP. I suppose that "Money" *does* come closer to stressing the mold, but in context of WTB, its impact is diluted by virtue of its being outnumbered. As mentioned above, the exclusive focus on oldies in this EP is intensified by the very compressed nature of the medium itself.

- Cover songs would play a steadily diminishing role in their repertoire from this point onward, but this harnessing of covers for the purpose of extending (not just rounding out!) the stylistic range of the group would continue with the likes of "Mr. Moonlight" and "Act Naturally." Furthermore, this notion of forward development and diversification of the group's image via the initially impressionistic mimicry and eventually synthetic absorption of varied styles would come to its ultimate fruition in their original work of the Middle and Later periods. At first this would appear tentatively and sporadically in the likes of "Yesterday" or "Yellow Submarine." But in the long run it would be directly traceable to the chameleon-like shuffling of funny and diverse styles which so pervades the White Album and Abbey Road. IMHO, the best visual metaphor for this phenomenon is their appearance in costume on the cover of "Sgt. Pepper" standing right next to the waxworks of themselves from around the time of this EP.

- In summary, the "Long Tall Sally" EP would seem to be a unique event in their recording history. Using the self-same material, they manage to make both the most unabashed tribute-like gesture to their past, while at the same time uncannily signalling what they later would do with material written entirely by themselves.

Well You Can Imitate Everyone You Know

- All three of the cover songs here are obviously in fairly straight 12-bar blues form, though it's noteworthy that they each project a very different emotive/sub-cultural style, and appropriately, the vocal solo of each was given to a different member of the group.

- Although I describe these specific cover songs as extending the sound and image of the group, it should be noted that all three of them formed a staple part of the Beatles stage repertoire not only during the salad days of the '59-'62 period, but well into the '63 season as well. I was astonished to discover that all three cover songs on this EP were performed at least once by the Beatles on the radio during 1963, and in essentially the same arrangements heard on this EP. However, I assume that the exclusion of these songs from official release until this relatively late date was not at all inadvertant.


Long Tall Sally

KEY G Major


FORM Verse ("Tell Aunt Mary") -> Verse ("Saw Uncle John") -> Break -> Verse ("Long Tall Sally") -> Break -> Verse ("Have some fun) -> Verse ("Have some fun) (w/complete ending)

COMPOSERS Johnson/Penniman/Blackwell

INFLUENTIAL VERSION Little Richard (1956)

- This is a raving rock-n-roll blues number in the 4 + 8 model, where each 12-bar frame starts off with four measures of expository lyrics that is followed by an eight measure refrain like section; compare the structure of this one to "Money", for example. To the extent that songs in this style often base their refrain section on the title hook phrase (again, compare with "Money", ), you'd half expect the title of this one to be "have some fun tonight" :-).

- There are other stylistic cliches here as well: the backing of the mini- verse-like opening four measures of each section with dramatic block chords that are widely separated by silence, the manner in which the lyrics of the final section degenerate into simple repetition of the hook phrase, and the fact that this repetitious section is repeated a second time. Especially dramatic is the shouted opening without intro or warning.

- Paul's stylized imitation of Little Richard, the likes of which had not heretofore appeared on an official recording of the Beatles remains so astonishing by itself that one tends to overlook just how outrageous the *words* of this song are in context of the Beatles' act. Indeed, the strange tale told here about philandering Uncle John, his girlfriend Sally, and their near-miss attempts to keep their antics a secret from Aunt Mary are a far cry from the yearnings of teen love which were the virtually exclusive purview of the group's officially recorded output up until this point in time.

- The Beatles add some trademark devices to their arrangement of this song; e.g. the prominence of the piano and lead guitar parts, the final ending on a dissonant I7/9 chord, and Paul's bassline which is predominantly walking throughout except for the final sections in which it changes the whole feel of the music simply by shifting to throbbingly repeated notes. All this notwithstanding, there are interesting differences between this and the original version.

- Little Richard played it in the lower key of F Major, his backing group sounds much more spare, and quite frankly, his vocal performance is more raving-yet-controlled than it is screaming. Specifically, his high notes contain a higher ratio of falsetto to screach than do Paul's, and you can make out the words much more clearly.

- The original also follows a very different ordering of verse and break sections as follows. Note how the Beatles bother to consolidate and re-order the sections so that the form more closely resembles the rest of their output:

Verse ("Tell Aunt Mary") -> Verse ("Long Tall Sally") -> Verse ("Saw Uncle John") -> Break -> Break -> Verse ("Long Tall Sally") -> Verse ("Saw Uncle John") -> Verse ("Have some fun) (w/complete ending)

- I'd heard both the original and the Beatles versions of this song countless times before, but not until I listened carefully for the purposes of doing this article did I notice the fact that in the official Beatles version Paul changes the line about "bald headed" Sally to read "long tall"; this, in spite of the fact that in all the live or broadcast Beatles performances of this that I checked (both those that precede or followed the official recording by as much as 6 or more months in either direction) feature the original wording restored! All I can figure here is that the reference to a bald headed woman (with or without wig hat) was thought to be just too raunchy or ethnic a reference for the typical middle-class and mainstream Beatles fan of 1964; or else perhaps Dick James would have been offended.

- And one last honest open question: I'm interested in a straw poll of whether people understand the song to speak of only one or two different women named Sally; an honest, if stupid, question.

Slow Down

KEY C Major


FORM Intro -> Verse -> Verse -> Break -> Verse (complete ending)


INFLUENTIAL VERSION Larry Williams (1958)

- The form of this song is based on an expanded variation of the classic blues in which every section is twenty-four, instead of twelve measures long. The infra-structure is identical to the 12-bar model, but it leisurely unfolds at half the speed, nicely urged along by a pentatonic boogie-like ostinato figure. As with "Long Tall Sally", the tune and lyrics divide the blues frame up into 4 + 8 (actually 8 + 16), with the title-hook refrain kicking in on the first change to the IV chord.

- Lyrics-wise, this is the most conventional of the three covers on this EP. Aside from the blackboard jungle undertone which seems to be sort of Larry Williams' trademark, the focus of the words themselves is on love-related angst, a topic quite in the mainstream of the Beatles own repertoire. Indeed, the hero of this song sound like the guy in YCDT except that this time he's running scared.

- The Beatles arrangement is characterized by lots of piano and lead guitar. The ostinato is executed in painstakingly even eighth notes that make for a nicely humming backbeat. John's overdubbed vocal diverges pitch-wise from the initial track so that he sounds as though harmonizing with himself in places; it's hard to know if this was intentional or not.

- Williams does it in a different key (D Major), he's got what sounds like close to a big band behind him, and his ostinato swings a bit more than it is even. His single tracked vocal is more melifluous and less shouted than John's, and this gives the whole song a slightly different feeling; evoking a hero that is more cooly calm and self-assured, rather than on-the-run and desparate.

- Both versions follow the same ordering of the formal sections. Williams uses the identical 24-bar chord progression in every section whereas the Beatles use the original model only in the instrumental intro and break, and make a subtle but effective modification to the pattern in all the sung sections. The third eight-measure phrase in the original gives two measures each to the V and IV chords followed by four measures of the I chord. In the sung verses, the Beatles give only one measure each to the V and IV chords and six measures to the I; this creates the not unpleasant sensation of an accelerating intensification on the phrase "give me little lovin' etc." that is missing from the original.

- At the level of details that almost go without saying, Williams features a saxaphone solo while the Beatles feature a guitar. And although John does shamelessly rip off Larry's tongue-tickling "BRRRRR!", he does it in the second verse whereas Larry does it right off in the first section.


KEY A Major


FORM Intro -> Verse ("sitting here") -> Verse ("old poor boy") -> Verse ("don't want my peaches") -> Break -> Verse ("be your little dog") -> Verse ("sitting here") (w/complete ending)



- Though formalistically speaking, in straight 12-bar blues form, the rock-a-billy arrangement and patter-song lyrics almost overshadow that fact. Unlike most of the other 12-bar covers we've looked at, this one employs its title/hook phrase only in the verse section which opens and closes the number. According to Lewisohn, this song went into the Beatles repertoire as early as '61 at which time the lead vocal was assigned to then-current drummer Pete Best.

- Although the topic here would seem to be love-related, the specific perspective of the "man who's sad and lonely" which it represents is a novel departure from the typical Beatles love songs which had been officially recorded until this point. By the same token, this one also establishes the start of a long term type-casting in the sorts of songs assigned to Ringo. Note the common threads of both rock-a-billy style and forlorn lyrics that run through "Honey Don't" (also by Perkins), "Act Naturally", "What Goes On", and even Richie's own "Don't Pass Me By". In this light, the fact that the latter song had already been written by some point in '64 (as we learn from a chance remark made during one of the Beeb radio shows) seems like no small coincidence.

- Ringo provides a double-tracked solo vocal, and just as we saw with the over songs above, the piano and lead guitar parts are featured prominently in the mix. Note the Beatles-like staggered entrance of the instruments during the intro.

- The Beatles organize the ordering of the sections slightly differently from Perkin's original version, and even add a verse ("peaches") which he did not have. Ironically, the form of the original below, with its two breaks that are separated by one or more verses, is strongly reminiscent of the Boys' own restructuring of "Long Tall Sally":

Intro -> Verse ("sitting here") -> Verse ("old poor boy") -> Break -> Verse ("be your little dog") -> Verse ("sitting here") -> Break -> Verse ("sitting here") (w/complete ending)

- Class dismissed :-).

Alan ( *OR* uunet!huxley!awp)

"... but not our little Richard ... oh no!  When you're not thumping them
 pagan skins, you're tormenting your eyes wid that rubbish!"	020292#48

                Copyright (c) 1992 by Alan W. Pollack
                          All Rights Reserved

       This article may be reproduced, retransmitted, redistributed and
       otherwise propagated at will, provided that this notice remains
       intact and in place.

Ook op Past Masters, Vols. 1:

ChordsNotes On
Love Me Do Love Me Do
From Me to You From Me to You
Thank You Girl Thank You Girl
She Loves You She Loves You
I'll Get You I'll Get You
I Want to Hold Your Hand I Want to Hold Your Hand
This Boy This Boy
Komm, Gib Mir Deine Hand Komm, Gib Mir Deine Hand
Sie Liebt Dich 
Long Tall Sally Long Tall Sally
I Call Your Name I Call Your Name
Slow Down Slow Down
Matchbox Matchbox
I Feel Fine I Feel Fine
She's a Woman She's a Woman
Bad Boy Bad Boy
Yes It Is Yes It Is
I'm Down I'm Down

Ook op Anthology 1:

ChordsNotes On
Free As A Bird Free As A Bird
Speeches_ant_1 We Were Four Guys ... That's All (john Lennon Speaking To Jann Wenner) 
That'll Be The Day 
In Spite Of All The Danger 
Sometimes I'd Borrow ... Those Still Exist 
Hallelujah, I Love Her So 
You'll Be Mine 
First Of All ... It Didn't Do A Thing Here 
My Bonnie 
Ain't She Sweet 
Cry For A Shadow 
Brian Was A Beautiful Guy ... He Presented Us Well 
I Secured Them ... A Beatle Drink Even Then 
Three Cool Cats 
Sheik Of Araby 
Like Dreamers Do 
Hello Little Girl 
Well, The Recording Test ... By My Artists 
Besame Mucho 
Love Me Do Love Me Do
How Do You Do It 
Please Please Me Please Please Me
One After 909 (Takes 3, 4, & 5)
One After 909 (Takes 4 & 5)
Lend Me Your Comb 
I'll Get You (Live at the London Palladium)
We Were Performers ... In Britain 
I Saw Her Standing There (Live in Stockholm)
From Me To You (Live in Stockholm)
Money (that's What I Want) (Live in Stockholm)
You've Really Got A Hold On Me (Live in Stockholm)
Roll Over Beethoven (Live in Stockholm)
She Loves You (Live at the Royal Variety Show)
Till There Was You (Live at the Royal Variety Show)
Twist And Shout (Live at the Royal Variety Show)
This Boy (Live on The Morecambe and Wise Show)
I Want To Hold Your Hand (Live on The Morecambe and Wise Show)
Boys, What I Was Thinking ... (morecambe & Wise Speaking To The Beatles) 
Moonlight Bay (Live on The Morecambe and Wise Show)
Can't Buy Me Love (Takes 1 & 2)
All My Loving Live on The Ed Sullivan Show)
You Can't Do That (Take 6)
And I Love Her (Take 2)
A Hard Day's Night (Take 1)
I Wanna Be Your Man I Wanna Be Your Man
Long Tall Sally Long Tall Sally
Boys Boys
Shout ! 
I'll Be Back (Take 2)
I'll Be Back (Take 3)
You Know What To Do 
No Reply No Reply
Mr. Moonlight (Takes 1 & 4)
Leave My Kitten Alone (Take 5)
No Reply (Take 2)
Eight Days A Week (Takes 1, 2 & 4)
Eight Days A Week (Take 5)
Kansas City-Hey-Hey-Hey-Hey! [medley] (Take 1)

Ook op Live At The BBC:

ChordsNotes On
Beatle Greetings (speech) 
From Us To You 
Riding On A Bus (speech) 
I Got A Woman 
Too Much Monkey Business 
Keep Your Hands Off My Baby 
I'll Be On My Way 
Young Blood 
A Shot Of Rhythm And Blues 
Sure To Fall 
Some Other Guy 
Thank You Girl Thank You Girl
Sha La La La La! (speech) 
Baby It's You Baby It's You
That's All Right (mama) 
Soldier Of Love 
A Little Rhyme (speech) 
I'm Gonna Sit Right Down And Cry (over You) 
Crying, Waiting, Hoping 
Dear Wack! (speech) 
You've Really Got a Hold on Me You've Really Got a Hold on Me
To Know Her Is To Love Her 
A Taste of Honey A Taste of Honey
Long Tall Sally Long Tall Sally
I Saw Her Standing There I Saw Her Standing There
The Honeymoon Song 
Johnny B. Goode 
Memphis, Tennessee 
Can't Buy Me Love Can't Buy Me Love
From Fluff To You (speech) 
Till There Was You Till There Was You
Crinsk Dee Night 
A Hard Day's Night A Hard Day's Night
Have A Banana! 
I Wanna Be Your Man I Wanna Be Your Man
Just A Rumour 
Roll over Beethoven Roll over Beethoven
All My Loving All My Loving
Things We Said Today Things We Said Today
She's a Woman She's a Woman
Sweet Little Sixteen 
Lonesome Tears In My Eyes 
Nothin' Shakin' 
The Hippy Hippy Shake 
Glad All Over 
I Just Don't Understand 
So How Come (no One Loves Me) 
I Feel Fine I Feel Fine
I'm a Loser I'm a Loser
Everybody's Trying to Be My Baby Everybody's Trying to Be My Baby
Rock & Roll Music Rock & Roll Music
Ticket to Ride Ticket to Ride
Dizzy Miss Lizzy Dizzy Miss Lizzy
Kansas City-Hey-Hey-Hey-Hey! [Medley] Kansas City-Hey-Hey-Hey-Hey! [Medley]
Set Fire To That Lot! 
Matchbox Matchbox
I Forgot To Remember To Forget 
Love These Goon Shows! 
I Got To Find My Baby 
Ooh! My Soul 
Ooh! My Arms 
Don't Ever Change 
Slow Down Slow Down
Honey Don't Honey Don't
Love Me Do Love Me Do

Ook op On Air - Live At The BBC Vol 2:

ChordsNotes On
And Here We Are Again (speech) 
Words of Love Words of Love
How About It, Gorgeus? (speech) 
Do You Want to Know a Secret Do You Want to Know a Secret
Hey, Paul... (speech) 
Anna (Go to Him) Anna (Go to Him)
Hello! (speech) 
Please Please Me Please Please Me
Misery Misery
I'm Talking About You 
A Real Treat (speech) 
Boys Boys
Absolutely Fab (speech) 
Chains Chains
Ask Me Why Ask Me Why
Till There Was You Till There Was You
Lend Me Your Comb 
Lower 5e (speech) 
The Hippy Hippy Shake 
Roll over Beethoven Roll over Beethoven
There's a Place There's a Place
Bumper Bundle (speech) 
P.S. I Love You P.S. I Love You
Please Mr. Postman Please Mr. Postman
Beautiful Dreamer 
Devil in Her Heart Devil in Her Heart
The 49 Weeks (speech) 
Sure To Fall 
Never Mind, Eh? (speech) 
Twist and Shout Twist and Shout
Bye, Bye (speech) 
John - Pop Profile (speech) 
George - Pop Profile (speech) 
I Saw Her Standing There I Saw Her Standing There
Glad All Over 
Lift Lid Again (speech) 
I'll Get You I'll Get You
She Loves You She Loves You
Memphis, Tennessee 
Happy Birthday, Dear Saturday Club 
Now Hush, Hush (speech) 
From Me to You From Me to You
Money (That's What I Want) Money (That's What I Want)
I Want to Hold Your Hand I Want to Hold Your Hand
Brian Bathtubes 
This Boy This Boy
If I Wasn't In America 
I Got A Woman 
Long Tall Sally Long Tall Sally
If I Fell If I Fell
A Hard Job Writing Them (speech) 
And I Love Her And I Love Her
Oh, Can't We? Yes We Can (speech) 
You Can't Do That You Can't Do That
Honey Don't Honey Don't
I'll Follow the Sun I'll Follow the Sun
Green With Black Shutters (speech) 
Kansas City-Hey-Hey-Hey-Hey! [Medley] Kansas City-Hey-Hey-Hey-Hey! [Medley]
That's What We're Here For (speech) 
I Feel Fine (Studio Outtake)
Paul - Pop Profile (speech) 
Ringo - Pop Profile (speech) 

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