John Lennon has nothing to be ashamed of in his music career. However, the British artist reflected on a song with the Beatles that he was “bitterly ashamed of”. His shame didn’t come from the song itself, but from his own performance, which he felt could have been better.
One day the Beatles had been recording at Abbey Road Studios for over 12 hours. According to Slate.com, producer George Martin wanted one more track to broadcast the album, please please me, out with a bang. The Beatles decided to do a cover of the Isley Brothers’ 1962 “Twist and Shout,” a song that involved a lot of shouting. The group was already exhausted after a long day of recording, but decided to go for it.
Gathering whatever strength they had left, the band delivered a recording that reportedly “stunned the listening technicians” and energized the band. The Beatles attempted a second take, but John Lennon discovered he had nothing left in him and the session ended there. Still, the group was pleased with the results of the first take.
In The Beatles Anthology, the group discussed recording at Abbey Road, and John Lennon recalled singing “Twist and Shout”. Martin confirmed he knew the song was a “throat ripper” and wanted to make sure Lennon still had a voice, so they saved it for the end. Lennon said he was “bitterly ashamed” of his performance during that session because he knows he could do better, but was still proud of the end result.
“Twist and Shout” was a huge hit for the Beatles. It peaked at two on the US Billboard Hot 100 and stayed on the chart for 26 weeks. It’s a frantic and energetic dance song that’s easy to listen to. Lennon even tried to get the royal family involved in the action.
During an appearance on the 1963 Royal Variety Show, the Fab Four prepared to perform “Twist and Shout” to Queen Elizabeth and other members of the Royal Family. Before the song began, Lennon said to the crowd: “Would people clap their hands in the cheapest seats? And the rest of you, if you would just rattle your jewelry.”
The monarchy appeared to take the joke kindly, but it took Lennon courage to say it. According to longtime Beatles engineer Geoff Emerick, Lennon made the joke after Paul McCartney challenged him to do it. Still, props to the Queen for her sense of humor.
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