Sunday, March 28, 2010

Standing Alone At The Top Of The Stairs

The next song on the Parlophone UK LP "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" is the second last on side one of the LP. A Lennon/McCartney original composition written mainly by Paul and entitled "She's Leaving Home". This song was inspired by a newspaper story from February 1967 which featured an article about a seventeen year old (well, she was just seventeen) who had run away from home. In the article, the father of the runaway states that he cannot understand why she would run away. "She has everything here" he says. McCartney probably didn't know it, but the runaway's name was Melanie Coe. Ms. Coe had been a dancer on the "Ready Steady Go" music show in England during the early sixties. As a coincidence, Melanie Coe won a miming competition on the show and was presented an award from none other than Paul McCartney on Friday, October 04 1963 when The Beatles appeared on the show. This tune is one of my favourites on the LP.

The first thing to be recorded for the song were the ten string instruments used for the basic track. The instruments consisted of four violins, two violas, two cellos, a harp and a double bass. McCartney had originally asked if George Martin would be able to score the string instruments for his composition but Mr. Martin had been busy with other commitments and had to turn it down. It was decided that a gentleman by the name of Mike Leander would arrange the strings instead. This was done although it is George Martin that conducts the ten piece strings during the recording.

This recording of strings only took place on Friday March 17 1967 at EMI studio two. Six takes of the strings were recorded onto two tracks. Both the first take and the sixth take were deemed usable for the moment.

Three days later on Monday March 20 1967, both the first and sixth takes of the strings section basic track were reduced from all four tracks onto two tracks. This left two extra tracks for the vocals to be overdubbed. Finally, take one was chosen for vocal overdubs at this session. Paul double tracked his lead vocals and John double tracks his vocal counterpoint in the chorus portion of the song. Once this was completed, six mono mix attempts were conducted from EMI studio two and th last mix was chosen as the final commercial version. Afterwards, it was decided to edit a section of the song at the end of the verses where there is a solo cello after the words "For So Many Years...". There is also a harmony line by McCartney during the first verse that is on the original master tapes that was not used on the commercial version.

During the mixing stage of the song, varispeed was used on the mono mix in order to speed up the song slightly making the vocal sound slightly higher. This was not done on the stereo mix and the stereo version is therefore slightly longer in time and tempo than the mono version.

The stereo mix for "She's Leaving Home" was conducted from the control room of EMI studio two on Monday April 17 1967. Six attempts were made with this mix and the final attempt was used on the commercial version of the song.

"She's Leaving Home" is available on the Parlophone UK LP/CD "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" as well as the North American Capitol LP of the same name. "She's Leaving Home" was also available on the picture disc of "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" in the UK and North America issued in the late seventies. Finally, the song also appears on the UK Parlophone LP and the Canadian Capitol of Canada LP "The Beatles Ballads" compilation.

"She's Leaving Home" was performed live by Paul McCartney and his band during the "Driving Rain" tour and a version of the song was released in 2003 on the Capitol/EMI 2-CD "Back In the World".

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