The Great Songs: The Beatles – She Said She Said

by Eric Melin on December 1, 2010

in Columns,The Great Songs

OK, I tried to hold out as long as I could, but it was unavoidable that a Beatles song would creep into The Great Songs. They are, after all, the band that changed everything. At least I didn’t pick something you’ve heard a million times before.

She Said She Said Beatles 45For some reason, “She Said She Said” isn’t one of those often-played Beatles numbers. This 1966 song was the last tune to be recorded for “Revolver” (in nine hours, no less) and it is brimming over the top with psychedelic lyrics, cascading vocal lines, a meter-changing drum part, and bright and shiny guitars, all on top of a sturdy structure and The Beatles’ trademark melodic sense.

The kicker? Paul McCartney didn’t play a note on it. George Harrison said he helped John Lennon construct the song from two separate “bits,” and then he went ahead and played bass on it as well.

This is also one of Ringo Starr‘s finest hours, with his groovy beat sliding all over the place for most of the song, until it locks in tight for the weird, off-time, twice-through bridge. It still sounds like he’s making half of it up as he goes along, which is part of the song’s slippery charm.

Yellow Submarine EP 1966 beatlesI love the way the guitar part answers virtually every vocal line. There isn’t a moment in the song where something interesting isn’t happening. The vocal hook even provides the transition over the meter shift as John sings “When I was a boy…” Such a creative use of melody.

By the way, all this happens in just under 2 minutes and forty seconds. I love songs that reward multiple repeated listenings, and this is one of the best examples  of that. Sometimes when people ask me to point out a perfect pop song, I point them here. No question.

The most memorable lyrics in “She Said She Said” famously come from Peter Fonda, who dropped acid with The Beatles and The Byrds at a house in Beverly Hills one night in August of ’65. When Fonda brought up his nearly fatal self-inflicted childhood gunshot accident, he said that “he knew what it was like to be dead.”

According to Fonda’s 1998 memoir, Lennon snapped at him because Fonda had brought everybody’s happy LSD vibe down. According to Fonda, he replied to Lennon, “You’re making me feel like I’ve never been born.”

Oh, where would music be without drugs?

The Great Songs series so far:

The Great Songs: Big Star – Thirteen

The Great Songs: The Kinks – Waterloo Sunset

The Great Songs: The Jayhawks – Blue

The Great Songs: Pavement – Summer Babe

The Great Songs: The Zombies – Care of Cell 44

The Great Songs: The O’Jays – Back Stabbers

The Great Songs: Queen & David Bowie – Under Pressure

The Great Songs: George Jones – He Stopped Loving Her Today

The Great Songs: Joy Division – Love Will Tear Us Apart

The Great Songs: KISS – Deuce

The Great Songs: The Flying Burrito Brothers – Hot Burrito #1

The Great Songs: The Flaming Lips – Do You Realize??

The Great Songs: Pink Floyd – Astronomy Domine

The Great Songs: The Beach Boys – Surf’s Up

The Great Songs: Marvin Gaye – Let’s Get it On

The Great Songs: Slayer – Angel of Death

The Great Songs: Elvis Costello & The Attractions – Beyond Belief

The Great Songs: The Replacements – Unsatisfied

The Great Songs: Cheap Trick – Surrender

The Great Songs: Guided by Voices – Motor Away

The Great Songs: The Louvin Brothers – Knoxville Girl

The Great Songs: Badfinger – Baby Blue

The Great Songs: Ray Charles – That Lucky Old Sun

The Great Songs: Television – Marquee Moon

The Great Songs: Neil Young and Crazy Horse – Cortez the Killer

The Great Songs: David Bowie – Life On Mars?

The Great Songs: Thin Lizzy – The Cowboy Song

The Great Songs: The Delfonics – Didn’t I (Blow Your Mind This Time)

Eric is the Editor-in-Chief of Scene-Stealers and regular critic for KCTV5. He’s a member of the BFCA, VP of the KCFCC, and drummer for The Dead Girls and Ultimate Fakebook. He is also the current 2013 Air Guitar World Champion Mean Melin. Eric goes to 11. Follow him at:

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Xavier December 1, 2010 at 5:13 am

I’ve always liked the beatles more obscure songs on the whole, and not in a deliberately trying to be obtuse way, I honestly think they are the better tracks, my favorite beatles track is you never give me your money.

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2 Eric Melin December 1, 2010 at 9:02 am

That whole second side of Abbey Road is amazing.

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3 Trey Hock December 1, 2010 at 11:25 am

This is a great choice for a Beatles’ song to cover in this column. It’s not an obvious choice, but not so obscure as to alienate. Nicely done.

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4 MonkeyCarson December 2, 2010 at 11:03 am

Correct me if I’m wrong, but Manhattanites might remember The Moving Van Goghs covering this song back in the day . . .

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5 Lemon1066 March 2, 2013 at 8:38 pm

Yes, you are right. They played it at a handful of shows.

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6 jack duhamel December 3, 2010 at 2:56 pm

great song

- Jack Duhamel

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