About 28 people attended yesterday's program on A Hard Day's Night at the Evanston Public Library, and although it started off a little slow (I'm still trying to figure out a good hook for the introduction to grab the audience's attention but have not been able to come up with anything I really like) by the end everyone was engaged and actively listening. The best way of determining how engaged an audience is, however, is by the questions asked afterwards - and one woman asked about the similarities between "When the Saints go Marching In" and "I Saw Her Standing There". While neither of those songs figure into A Hard Day's Night at all, it does provide a nice transition to today's program, "Before They Were Fab: The Beatles Prior to Beatlemania", scheduled for 7:00-8:30pm at the Wauconda Area Library (801 N. Main St, Wauconda, IL), which concludes with a musical analysis and explanation of "I Saw Her Standing There" - including a comparison with "When the Saints go Marching In".
The Beatles recorded "When the Saints go Marching In" with Tony Sheridan (titling their version "The Saints") in June 1961, and the song was in their stage repertoire for some time in the early 60's. Paul then wrote "I Saw Her Standing There" in October of the following year, and recorded it twice with the Beatles: once live at the Star Club in Hamburg, then again at EMI studios (the recording that would be released on the band's first album, Please Please Me) on 11 February 1963.
Although "The Saints" is in C major and "I Saw Her Standing There" is in E major, they do share nearly identical chord progressions. To illustrate that similarity, the examples below are both transposed to D, with the lyrics and chords of "The Saints" colored blue and the lyrics and chords to "I Saw Her Standing There" colored red.
Well when the saints go marching,
Well she was just seventeen, You know what I mean,
D G D
yeah when the saints go marching in,
and the way she looked was way beyond compare.
D D7 G g D A D
I'ma gonna be in that number, yeah, when the saints go marching in.
So how could I dance with another, oh, when I saw her standing there?
D D7 G Bb D A D
Comparing the two songs side-by-side like this, you can easily see that there are only two differences: the G on the word "know" in the first line of "I Saw Her Standing There" is missing in "The Saints", and in the last line "The Saints" uses a g chord where "I Saw Her Standing There" uses a Bb. But even there, g minor consists of three notes (g, b-flat, and d) and Bb consists of three notes (b-flat, d, f), so the two chords share two of their three notes (b-flat and d), meaning they are very closely related.
Bottom line: You have to conclude that "The Saints" influenced "I Saw Her Standing There" because while not perfectly identical, their chords are very, very, very similar.
This blog is a workshop for developing my analyses of The Beatles' music.