Beatles Over Broadway

How McCartney and Lennon went all Rogers and Hammerstein early on

Noel Holston
ILLUMINATION

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“I Saw Her Standing There” kicked of the Beatles’ debut album. Photo by Noel Holston ( Author)

As everybody who has ever heard the early Beatles albums knows, John Lennon, Paul McCartney and their mates absorbed and synthesized myriad facets of 1950s and early ’60s rock ’n’ roll — Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly, the Everlys, Little Richard, “girl” groups, Motown — to create their new sound.

Often overlooked is the influence of Broadway, especially on McCartney.

The song that kicked off their first British album, the one that famously begins with “One, two, three, fuhh,” is basically a rock ’n’ roll rewrite of Rogers and Hammerstein.

Yes, I’m talking about “I Saw Her Standing There.” And I’m also talking about “Some Enchanted Evening,” from South Pacific.

Here’s a lyric comparison:

Some enchanted evening

Well, she was just 17

You may see a stranger

You know what I mean

You may see a stranger, cross a crowded room

And the way she looked was way beyond compare

And somehow you know, you know even then

Now I’ll never dance with another

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