“Till There Was You” was a popular cover song for The Beatles while they performed on the live circuit. They also sang it 8 times for their BBC Radio appearances as well as at the Royal Command Performance on the 4th November, 1963. That performance was at the Prince of Wales Theatre in London and you can hear this version is on their Anthology 1 album.
Recorded: 18th, also the 30th July, 1963
Studio: Abbey Road Studios, London
Track Duration: 2:16
Record Label: Parlophone
Songwriter: Meredith Willson
Producer: George Martin
Engineer: Norman Smith
Till There Was You
Written by Meredith Willson for the musical play “The Music Man” (1957), “Till There Was You” is the only Beatles song from any of the Broadway musicals. There was also a film release in 1962 in which the song appeared in too. However, Paul McCartney didn’t hear the song through those channels. In fact, he heard the song through his cousin, Bett Robbins.
“I had an elder cousin, Elizabeth Danher, now Robbins. She was quite an influence on me. Betty would play me records like Peggy Lee’s Fever. Peggy Lee did “Till There Was You” as well. I didn’t know that was from the musical The Music Man until many years later. This led me to songs like A Taste Of Honey and things which were slightly to the left and the right of rock ‘n’ roll.”
Paul McCartney sang this song in his natural singing voice to great effect. The rhythm came from a bossa nova beat created by Ringo Starr on the bongos while George Harrison and John Lennon played their guitars in a classical Spanish style. The band loved performing it so it became part of their act while gigging etc.
“I looked at the recording scene and realised that a few people were taking offbeat songs, putting them into their acts and modernising them a bit. So I looked at a few songs with that in mind. Till There Was You was one; no one was doing that except Peggy Lee so I thought it’d be nice to play.”
The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions, Mark Lewisohn
The difference between “Till There Was You” and “Twist and Shout“, for example, couldn’t be more contrasting. However, in front of Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother at The Royal Variety Show on the 4th November, 1963, they played those two contrasting songs in that order! This version of the song is on their Anthology 1 album.
They also sang this song in America on their famous first appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show, on the 9th February, 1964.
The Fab Four began recording for their new album, “With The Beatles” at the EMI Studios in London, on the 18th July, 1963. They loved “Till There Was You” so much, it was one of the first numbers up during those sessions. However, their three takes that day didn’t give them the sound that they were looking for.
On the 30th July, 1963, The Beatles recorded four more takes and they chose the last of those for their new album.
In the early sixties, The Beatles were in great demand and even had many shows on BBC Radio. In fact, the band recorded the song eight times for the BBC. The version we hear on the “Live At The BBC” album features their last recording for the BBC. This version was part of the BBC’s “From Us To You” show on the 28th February, 1964.