I Saw Her Standing There (Lennon/McCartney)

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I Saw Her Standing There (Lennon/McCartney)

I Saw Her Standing There was written by Paul and is the first song on their first album Please Please Me, and to make it fit in better George Martin dubbed the “1, 2, 3, 4” intro from a later take. The original title was Seventeen, I Saw Her Standing There and began “She was just seventeen/never been a beauty queen”. Paul wrote the song for Iris Caldwell, who was the sister of Rory Storm of Rory Storm and the Hurricanes (the band Ringo came from). He consciously knew that in order to be successful his songs would have to be geared toward teenage girls and have a personal sound to them.


“That’s Paul doing his usual good job of producing what George Martin used to call a ‘potboiler’.” – John Lennon

“We had an amazing time, just wandering streets in the sunshine, looking at London, holding hands and having fun, and Paul had the melody of what became ‘I Saw Her Standing There’ going round his head all day, humming it and singing it and fleshing out the words. I remember walking around some lovely, elegant squares…while he made up rhyming lines and asked me what I thought of them. He said, ‘What rhymes with ‘We danced through the night’? and I came up with ‘We held each other tight,’ which was really quite naff, but he used it. He’d worked out a fair bit of the lyric by the end of the day…I felt like the song was about us, but it wasn’t said. It was implicit, but difficult to state openly because it would have made things terribly intimate. But I was very flattered, and it became for me an abiding memory of our trip to London.” – Celia Mortimer, Paul’s girlfriend, on the song’s origins

“‘I Saw Her Standing There’ was my original. I’d started it and I had the first verse, which therefore gave me the tune, the tempo and the key. It gave you the subject matter, a lot of the information and then you had to fill in…With John and me on a song, if I come up with some lines which I know aren’t really very good and I’m just hoping to fool him, I know I won’t. ‘I Saw Him Standing There’ was the best example of it…I had She was just seventeen,’ and then ‘beauty queen.’ I knew this was rubbish, and that I’d put it down just because it rhymed. When I showed it to John, he screamed with laughter and said, ‘You’re joking about that line, aren’t you?’ And I realized that, in fact, I was, and we changed it.” – Paul McCartney

“We were learning our skill. John would like some of my lines and not others. He liked most of what I did, but there would sometimes be a cringe line, such as, ‘She was just seventeen, she’d never been a beauty queen.’ John thought, ‘Beauty queen? Ugh.’ We were thinking of Butlin’s so we asked ourselves, what should it be? We came up with, ‘You know what I mean.’ Which was good, because you don’t know what I mean.” – Paul McCartney

“We stopped there and both of us cringed at that and said, ‘No, no, no. Beauty queen is out! There’s got to be another rhyme for seventeen.’ So we went through the alphabet: between, clean, lean, mean; ‘She wasn’t mean; you know what I mean; great! Put that in.’ And then the significance of it built as we sang it…people picked up on the implied significance later. It was a good way out of that problem. So it was co-written, my idea, and we finished it that day.” – Paul McCartney

BBC Performances

See THERE WILL BE A SHOW TONIGHT: The BBC Performances for complete information on BBC performances and recordings

  • Teenager’s Turn (Here We Go) – recorded March 6, 1963 but not broadcast
  • Saturday Club – recorded March 16, 1963, broadcast March 16, 1963 and released on Bootleg Recordings 1963 (2013)
  • Side By Side – recorded April 1, 1963, broadcast April 22, 1963
  • Saturday Club – recorded May 21, 1963, broadcast May 25, 1963
  • Steppin’ Out – recorded May 21, 1963, broadcast June 3, 1963
  • Pop Go The Beatles – recorded June 17, 1963, broadcast June 25, 1963
  • Easy Beat – recorded July 17, 1963, broadcast July 21, 1963
  • Pop Go The Beatles – recorded September 3, 1963, broadcast September 24, 1963 and released on Bootleg Recordings 1963 (2013)
  • Saturday Club – recorded September 7, 1963, broadcast October 5, 1963 and released on On Air: Live At The BBC Volume 2 (2013)
  • Easy Beat – recorded October 16, 1963, broadcast October 20, 1963 and released on Live At The BBC (1994)
  • From Us To You – recorded December 18, 1963, broadcast December 26, 1963
  • From Us To You – recorded May 1, 1964, broadcast May 18, 1964


  • Paul McCartney – lead vocals, bass, handclaps
  • John Lennon – rhythm guitar, harmony vocals, handclaps
  • George Harrison – lead guitar, handclaps
  • Ringo Starr – drums, handclaps

Release history

1 Response

  1. EAM says:

    I absolutely love the vague, cheeky, eye-winking first line of this song.

    “You know what I mean”

    What a way to start the album. It’s so punk rock. There was nothing even close to the suggestiveness in that line in pop music at that time.

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