Bass Transcription: The Beatles – I Saw Her Standing There

A twist on the conventional 12-bar blues form, ‘I Saw Her Standing There’ appeared as a B-side to The Fab Four’s debut US single, ‘I Want To Hold Your Hand’ and is taken from the band’s first album, 1963’s Please Please Me. Originally penned by Paul McCartney with some lyrical adjustment from John Lennon (the second line of the song was originally ‘never been a beauty queen’), the main musical inspiration for ‘I Saw Her Standing There’ was Chuck Berry’s ‘I’m Talking About You’:

Paul McCartney has admitted that he lifted the bass line for ‘I Saw Her Standing There’ straight from ‘Talking About You’ and whilst the chord changes aren’t exactly the same, both share the same major arpeggio pattern that gets transposed to each chord in the verse sequence. The structure veers away from the traditional blues form in the chorus, where McCartney switches to a straightforward, quarter note approach (note the use of C major in the context of the E major key centre, a distinctly non-blues chord substitution).

The recorded version of ‘I Saw Her Standing There’ is actually the first take of song from the studio session where the band cut 10 of the 14 tracks from Please Please Me. Producer and ‘Fifth Beatle’ George Martin wanted to capture the energy of the band’s famous live shows at venues such as The Cavern so he included McCartney’s energetic count in on the recording (mega-nerd fact: the count in is actually from take nine of the song, which George Martin felt was ‘especially spirited’).

The Beatles – ‘I Saw Her Standing There’ bass transcription.pdf