“Act Naturally” is a cover song which The Beatles released on their 1965 album, “Help!”. Originally a number one hit in America by Buck Owens and the Buckaroos, Ringo Starr obviously sang it in his own way. Although not a single in the UK, it was the B-side of “Yesterday” in the US.
Recorded: June 17th, 1965
Studio: EMI Studios, London
Genre: Country rock, rockabilly
Track Duration: 2:29
Record Label: Parlophone
Songwriters: Johnny Russell, Voni Morrison
Producer: George Martin
Indeed, The Beatles went “country” with “Act Naturally”. They obviously liked the original song and played it in their own inimitable style. Ringo Starr sings it and his voice is instantly recognisable of course. While they didn’t perform this song live prior to recording, they did sing it on the Ed Sullivan show on the 12th of September 1965. They recorded that TV programme on the 14th of August 1965.
They also sang it at the Shea Stadium concert on the 15th August, 1965. Indeed, while on the American tour the band would sing this or Starr’s other song “I Wanna Be Your Man“. After The Beatles broke up and Ringo Starr went his own way, he continued to sing this song while touring. In fact, since 1989, he sang it at nearly all performances under the name of “Ringo Starr & His All-Starr Band”.
The song is easy to understand and it informs us that the singer would like to play the natural part in a movie of someone who is sad and lonely after losing his partner.
The Beatles began recording “Act Naturally” on the 17th of June 1965, in Studio Two of the EMI Studios, London, during the 2.30pm-5.30pm session. In effect, the Fab Four rehearsed it 12 times before finally settling with the 13th take. In fact, this was the only one to have the vocal added.
The “Help!” album almost had another song by Ringo Starr called, “If You’ve Got Trouble“, but they didn’t care too much for that recording. That song is on their 1996 album, “Anthology 2“. Meanwhile, on the “Help!” album itself, “Act Naturally” is the first song on side 2 coming just before, “It’s Only Love“.
During 1989, the two singers that made this song famous got together and sang it as a duet. Both Ringo Starr and Buck Owens performed the song on the 27 March. However, between 23 and 29 June, they also made a video to accompany the song too. The light-hearted video shows the singers playing the part of two bumbling cowboys while filming a Western movie scene.