Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Anna (Go to Him)

Written and originally recorded by Arthur Alexander (US #68/R&B #10 1962).
Hit album version by The Beatles (1963).

From the wiki: “‘Anna (Go to Him)’ (or simply ‘Anna’) was written and originally recorded by Arthur Alexander, and is considered to be one of the great early Soul ballads even if its loping groove was closer to a mid-tempo song than a slow ballad.

“‘Anna’ was actually a minor pop hit (but Top-10 R&B) when it first came out in 1962, peaking #68 on the Pop charts. However, it was a personal favorite of John Lennon, and ‘Anna’ had been a part of the Beatles live set since its release in 1962. ‘Anna’ would become more famous for its cover version by the Beatles than when originally released by Alexander.

“‘Anna’ was recorded by the group for their 1963 debut album, Please Please Me. Floyd Cramer’s piano lick on Alexander’s original was played on guitar by George Harrison. Lennon had a bad cold the day of recording, which accounted for the roughness of all of his vocals recorded during the historic session on February 11, 1963 when the Beatles recorded eleven songs in 10 hours, including the last song, ‘Twist and Shout‘.”

“Released in the UK on the first Beatles album, Please Please Me, it would first be released in the U.S. by Vee Jay Records on Introducing… The Beatles while Capitol Records re-released it in 1965 as part of The Early Beatles compilation. The recording was also distributed to US disc jockeys in 1963 as the B-side to ‘Ask Me Why’. The promotional disc is considered to be a rare collectors item because the ‘Ask Me Why/Anna (Go to Him)’ song combination was not commercially released.

“Arthur Alexander has the distinction of being the only songwriter whose work has been recorded by The Beatles (‘Anna’), The Rolling Stones (‘You Better Move On‘), and Bob Dylan (‘Sally Sue Brown’). Elvis Presley would also cover, in 1972, Alexander’s original recording of ‘Burning Love‘.”

The Beatles, “Anna (Go to Him)” (1963):