Komm, gib mir deine Hand / Sie liebt dich
|"Komm, gib mir deine Hand" / "Sie liebt dich"|
|Single by the Beatles|
|Recorded||17 October 1963 and 29 January 1964|
|The Beatles US singles chronology|
"Komm, gib mir deine Hand" and "Sie liebt dich" (English: "Come, Give Me Your Hand" and "She Loves You") are German-language versions of "I Want to Hold Your Hand" and "She Loves You", respectively, by the English rock band the Beatles. Both John Lennon and Paul McCartney wrote the original English songs, credited to the Lennon–McCartney partnership, while Camillo Felgen wrote the translated German lyrics. Felgen is credited under several of his pen names. In places, his translations take major liberties with the original lyrics. Odeon Records released the German versions together as a non-album single in West Germany in March 1964. Swan Records released "Sie liebt dich", along with the original "She Loves You" B-side "I'll Get You", as a single in the United States in May 1964. Capitol included "Komm, gib mir deine Hand" as the closing track of the 1964 North American-only album Something New.
The recording of "Komm, gib mir deine Hand" and "Sie liebt dich" came at a time when it was standard practice for artists to record unique versions of songs for foreign markets. Executives from Odeon insisted with George Martin and Brian Epstein that in order for them to penetrate the German market, the Beatles would need to record German versions of their biggest songs. The Beatles opposed the idea until Martin convinced them to record. On 29 January 1964, during their only group recording session outside of the United Kingdom,[nb 1] the Beatles recorded the songs at EMI's Pathé Marconi Studios in Paris, France. For "Komm, gib mir deine Hand", they overdubbed German vocals onto the original backing track of "I Want to Hold Your Hand". The two-track tapes of "She Loves You" from July 1963 were erased after the mono master was made, forcing the Beatles to record "Sie liebt dich" entirely from scratch. The English and German versions contain differences, the most prominent being Lennon's rhythm guitar; on the former he plays his Gibson J-160E while on the latter he plays his Rickenbacker 325 Capri.
The German versions reached number one and seven in the German charts, respectively. "Sie liebt dich" reached number 97 in the Billboard Hot 100. Following these recordings, the Beatles never again made foreign versions of their songs. Commentators have credited the band's subsequent practice of only releasing their songs in the original English with helping to spread the English language across Europe and the rest of the world.
Background and development
The beginning of 1964 saw the Beatles reaching international levels of fame. On 14 and 15 January, the Beatles arrived in Paris for a 19-day residency at the Olympia Theatre. On 25 January 1964, after returning to the hotel from a show, Beatles manager Brian Epstein informed them that "I Want to Hold Your Hand" reached number one in the United States on the Cashbox Top 100 chart. On 1 February, it went to number one on the Billboard Hot 100. From this point forward, Epstein focused on promoting the Beatles to the international market. Otto Demmlar, a producer of the German sub-label of EMI, Electrola Gesellschaft, conceived the Beatles recording songs in German. Odeon Records insisted with Epstein and Beatles producer George Martin that if they wanted to sell more records in West Germany, the band would need to rerecord their biggest songs in German. At that time, recording unique versions for foreign markets was a standard practice.[nb 2]
Odeon sent Luxembourger Camillo Felgen, a popular presenter from Radio Luxembourg, to make translations and meet Martin and the Beatles in Paris.[nb 3] Felgen initially translated both sides of the original "She Loves You" single, with the A-side becoming "Sie liebt dich" and the B-side "I'll Get You" becoming "Glücklich wie noch nie". Beatles writer John C. Winn translates this back to English as "Happy like never before". Because it was a more recent hit, "I Want to Hold Your Hand" replaced "I'll Get You" and became the prospective A-side of the single, with Felgen translating the title as "Komm, gib mir deine Hand". Beatles writer Kenneth Womack translates this back to English as "Come on, give me your hand" while Winn translates it as "Come, give me your hand". Felgen translated under several pen names, including Jean Nicolas, Heinz Hellmer and Lee Montague. The credits on "Komm, gib mir deine Hand" are Lennon–McCartney–Nicolas–Hellmer while the credits on "Sie liebt dich"are Lennon–McCartney–Nicolas–Montague.
Musicologist Walter Everett writes that both translations take great liberties. He singles out the chorus of "Sie liebt dich" in particular, which became, "Sie liebt dich / yeah, yeah, yeah / denn mit dir allein / kann sie nur glücklich sein." These lyrics translate to English as: "She loves you / yeah, yeah, yeah / for with you alone / can she only be happy." In his book Revolution in the Head, Ian MacDonald says, "The German rewrite didn't go so far as insisting on 'ja, ja, ja'." Womack writes a more direct translation of "I Want to Hold Your Hand" would be "Ich möchte deine Hand halten".
On 24 January 1964 at EMI Recording Studios, engineer Norman Smith made a tape-to-tape copy of the basic rhythm track of "I Want to Hold Your Hand" from take 17 of the original 17 October 1963 session. The tape was brought by Martin and Smith during their travels to Paris, where they met with the Beatles. On 29 January 1964, the Beatles were due in the studio to record the German translations. In an interview for Mark Lewisohn's 1988 book The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions, Martin recalled of the day:
I fixed the session for late-morning. Norman Smith, myself, and the translator, a chap named Nicolas, all got to the studio on time, but there was no sign of the Beatles. We waited an hour before I telephoned their suite at the George V hotel. Neil Aspinall answered, "They're in bed, they've decided not to go to the studio". I went crazy – it was the first time they had refused to do anything for me. "You tell them they've got to come, otherwise I shall be so angry it isn't true! I'm coming over right now". So the German and I jumped into a taxi, we got to the hotel and I barged into their suite, to be met by this incredible sight, right out of the Mad Hatter's tea party.Jane Asher – Paul [McCartney]'s girlfriend – with her long red hair, was pouring tea from a china pot, and the others were sitting around her like March Hares. They took one look at me and exploded, like in a school room when the headmaster enters. Some dived onto the sofa and hid behind cushions, others dashed behind curtains. "You are bastards!" I screamed, to which they responded with impish little grins and roguish apologies. Within minutes we were on our way to the studio.
The Beatles recorded "Komm, gib mir deine Hand" and "Sie liebt dich", along with McCartney's new song "Can't Buy Me Love", at EMI's Pathé Marconi Studios in Paris. This was their first recording session outside Abbey Road and the band's only one outside of the United Kingdom.[nb 1] "Komm, gib mir deine Hand" was the first of three songs recorded that day. Martin produced it, being supported by engineers Smith and Jacques Esmenjaud. Smith recalled, "I found the studio very odd to work in, the equipment was alien to anything we were used to", and, "[There] was absolutely no atmosphere!" The original rhythm track was mixed down from four-track to two-track. The Beatles overdubbed German vocals and handclaps across 11 takes, as well as George Harrison's Country Gent. Takes five and seven were marked "best" and edited together, along with a handclap overdub. The original two-track tape of "She Loves You", recorded on 1 July 1963, had been erased after the mono master was finished, meaning the Beatles needed to record "Sie liebt dich" entirely from scratch. They recorded a new rhythm track in 13 takes. John Lennon's rhythm guitar distinguishes the German and English backing tracks from one another. In July 1963 on "She Loves You", he plays his Gibson J-160E, a guitar later stolen in early January 1964 during the Beatles' 1963–64 Christmas show.[nb 4] For "Sie liebt dich", he instead plays his Rickenbacker 325 Capri.[nb 5] The Beatles overdubbed German vocals in a single take – take 14. Smith recalled, "They were extremely pleased to get it over with ... we all were." The Beatles worked quicker than anticipated and so cancelled a second session booked for two days later on 31 January 1964. They used their remaining studio time to record four takes of "Can't Buy Me Love".
On 10 March 1964, while the Beatles filmed A Hard Day's Night, Martin, assisted by Smith, mixed "Komm, gib mir deine Hand" and "Sie liebt dich" for mono at EMI Recording Studios. He used the combined edit of takes five and seven for the former and take 14 for the latter. Two days after the initial mix, they mixed the songs for stereo, equalizing, compressing and adding echo as well. Copies of the mixes were sent to West Germany and the United States. Everett comments that the most noticeable differences between the mixes of "Komm, gib mir deine Hand" and "I Want to Hold Your Hand" are Lennon's compressed Capri guitar, which is heard more freely in the German version, and Harrison's Gent guitar, which has a different bass register.
Release and impact
The custom of recording special versions for foreign markets, standard practice at the time, was never afterwards bothered with by the Beatles and consequently fell into disuse. The resulting promotion of the English language around the world is one of their most substantial, and least documented, achievements.
Odeon released the German single of "Komm, gib mir deine Hand" b/w "Sie liebt dich" across West Germany in March 1964.[nb 6] The songs reached number one and seven in the German charts, respectively. In Denmark, the single reached number 15. Sourced from the German release, Parlophone released the single in Australia during June 1964, though it failed to chart. Swan Records, a small Philadelphia-based record label mainly known for novelty records, obtained the US rights to "She Loves You" in September 1963. After the Beatles recorded "Sie liebt dich", Swan argued they likewise held the rights to that song. Swan released "Sie liebt dich" b/w "I'll Get You" in the US on 21 May 1964. The single was on the Billboard Hot 100 for one week, peaking at number 97. Capitol Records included "Komm, gib mir deine Hand" as the closing track on the Beatles' North American album Something New in July 1964. Beatles biographer Jonathan Gould refers to this as "an added curiosity". MacDonald ascribes the inclusion to Capitol being "newly anxious to exploit every last scrap of Beatles product ..." Both Everett and Winn write that the songs were released in the US because of the American public's desperation for new Beatles material. Following these recordings, the Beatles never recorded foreign versions of their songs again.[nb 7]
In The Beatles Anthology, Martin reflected of the songs: "They were the only things they have ever done in a foreign language. And they didn't need to anyway [...] The records would have sold in English, and did." By the end of 1963, the Beatles had already achieved hits in Sweden and Finland without needing to record translated versions. Peter Doggett credits the Beatles popularity with helping spread the English language throughout Europe, especially among young people. MacDonald offers similar sentiments, but goes further, asserting they helped spread English around the world.
Parlophone released both tracks for the first time in the UK on the 1978 compilation album Rarities. This was the first stereo release of "Sie liebt dich" anywhere. In addition, the release eliminates a stray English word ("coming") present on the original stereo version of "Komm, gib mir deine Hand". In the US, "Komm, gib mir deine Hand" remained readily available on re-releases of Something New. "Sie liebt dich" however fell out of print after its 1964 release. The song remained unavailable in the US until Capitol included the stereo version on the 1980 American compilation album Rarities. Both tracks were first released on compact disc for the 1988 compilation Past Masters, Volume One. The stereo and mono tracks were remastered and included on the 2009 releases Past Masters and Mono Masters.
"Komm, gib mir deine Hand" is featured in the 2019 World War II film Jojo Rabbit, directed by Taika Waititi, and its soundtrack. After initially being denied, the film's composer Michael Giacchino helped secure the rights to the song by contacting McCartney, with whom he had previously worked.
Komm, gib mir deine Hand
According to Everett, Winn and MacDonald:
Sie liebt dich
According to Lewisohn and MacDonald:
- On 12 January 1968, with no other Beatles present, George Harrison and a group of Indian musicians recorded the backing track to "The Inner Light" in Bombay, India.
- A related example is Tommy Facenda's 1959 single "High School USA", where he sings different lyrics over the same backing track for regional markets across the US.
- Martin has provided different names for the translator. In a 1988 interview Martin remembers the translator as "a chap named Nicolas". Felgen used Jean Nicolas as one of his pseudonyms. In the 2000 book The Beatles Anthology, Martin instead remembers him as Otto Demmlar.
- The Beatles' Christmas Show ran at Astoria Cinema, Finsbury Park, London from 24 December 1963 to 11 January 1964.
- This Rickenbacker 325 Capri was significantly worn by the time of recording. In February 1964, Rickenbacker gifted Lennon a replacement Jetglo-black Capri. He retired the original guitar until sessions for his 1980 album Double Fantasy.
- Both Walter Everett and Barry Miles write the single was released in West Germany on 5 March 1964, though the songs were not mixed for mono and stereo until 10 and 12 March, respectively. John C. Winn says the single was rush-released in West Germany after mixing, but does not provide a release date. Both tracks entered the German charts in April 1964.
- In July 1968, McCartney produced Mary Hopkin for her first single with Apple, "Those Were the Days". Though she opposed the idea, McCartney directed her to rerecord the song in Italian, Spanish, French and German. Everett comments, "This was a successful maneuver, but could he have forgotten how he'd bristled over the 'Sie liebt dich' / 'Komm, gib mir deine Hand' episode in 1964?"
- MacDonald 2007, pp. 83, 101.
- Kramer 2009, p. 72.
- Lewisohn 2000, p. 143.
- Everett 2001, p. 213: 25 January; The Beatles 2000, p. 114: Epstein informing the Beatles.
- Everett 2001, p. 213.
- Womack 2014, pp. 511, 838.
- Lewisohn 1988, p. 38.
- MacDonald 2007, p. 104n2.
- Everett 2010, p. 232.
- Womack 2014, pp. 511, 838: Luxembourger Camillo Felgen sent by Odeon to Paris to do translations; Nathaus 2011, p. 150: a popular presenter from Radio Luxembourg.
- Winn 2008, p. 118.
- The Beatles 2000, p. 112.
- Winn 2008, p. 117.
- Winn 2008, p. 117–118.
- Womack 2014, p. 511; Winn 2008, pp. 117–118
- Flippo, Hyde. "Why Did the Fab Four Sing in German?". ThoughtCo. Archived from the original on 23 November 2020. Retrieved 16 March 2021.
- Womack 2014, p. 511.
- Lewisohn 1988, p. 38: first recording session outside Abbey Road; Kramer 2009, p. 72: only group recording session outside of the UK.
- Lewisohn 1988, p. 132.
- Ryan & Kehew 2006, quoted in Margotin & Guesdon 2013, p. 142
- Lewisohn 1988, p. 38: German vocals and handclaps across 11 takes; Everett 2001, p. 213: Harrison's Country Gent.
- Everett 2001, p. 395n7.
- Lewisohn 1988, p. 32: "She Loves You" recorded July 1963; Everett 2001, pp. 175, 395n7: Lennon plays his Gibson on "She Loves You"; Everett 2001, pp. 347, 395n7: Gibson J-160E Jumbo stolen in January 1964 during Christmas show.
- Lewisohn 2000, pp. 135, 142.
- Winn 2008, p. 118: Lennon plays his Rickenbacker; Everett 2001, p. 351: Rickenbacker 325 Capri.
- Everett 2001, p. 351.
- Lewisohn 2000, p. 150: filming A Hard Day's Night; Lewisohn 1988, p. 42: mixing.
- Lewisohn 1988, p. 42.
- Everett 2001, p. 203: Lennon's compressed Capri; Everett 2001, p. 213: Harrison's Gent guitar.
- Everett 2001, p. 213; Miles 2007, p. 113
- "Offiziellecharts.de – The Beatles – Komm, gib mir deine Hand". GfK Entertainment charts. Retrieved 9 April 2022.
- "Offiziellecharts.de – The Beatles – Sie liebt dich". GfK Entertainment charts. Retrieved 9 April 2022.
- "The Beatles - Salgshitlisterne Top 20". Danske Hitlister. Archived from the original on 4 November 2013. Retrieved 2 August 2022.
- Jones 2012, pp. 48, 129.
- Gould 2007, p. 196: small Philadelphia-based record label, mostly novelty records; Womack 2014, p. 839: September 1963.
- Womack 2014, p. 839.
- Womack 2009, p. 289.
- Everett 2001, p. 210: peaked at #97; Winn 2008, p. 118: one week.
- Womack 2009, p. 291.
- Gould 2007, p. 247.
- Everett 2001, p. 213; Winn 2008, p. 118
- Everett 1999, p. 208.
- Everett 1999, p. 349–350n198.
- Everett 1999, p. 350n198.
- Doggett 2015, p. 388.
- MacDonald 2007, p. 104n2; MacDonald 2004, p. 103
- Davis 1980.
- Womack 2014, pp. 713–714.
- Womack 2014, p. 714: Past Masters; Womack 2014, p. 647: Mono Masters.
- Galuppo, Mia (11 November 2019). "Making of 'Jojo Rabbit': How Taika Waititi Scored The Beatles' Music for His Hitler Satire". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on 12 November 2019. Retrieved 19 November 2019.
- Everett 2001, p. 213: original backing track of "I Want to Hold Your Hand" along with dubs of Harrison's Gent, handclaps and vocals; Winn 2008, p. 118: vocals from Lennon and McCartney; MacDonald 2007, p. 99: personnel for "I Want to Hold Your Hand".
- Lewisohn 1988, p. 38: new rhythm track for "Sie liebt dich" based on the original "She Loves You", vocal overdub of German vocals; MacDonald 2007, p. 83: personnel for "She Loves You".
- "The Beatles - Salgshitlisterne Top 20". Danske Hitlister. Archived from the original on 4 November 2013. Retrieved 2 August 2022.
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