Looking down the Grosse Freiheit from the busier Reepebahn in Hamburg, Germany, ca. 1960. The Indra club is a couple of blocks down the street on the right-hand side.
Well, it's been over a year since my last post here. . . Shame on me! Lets get back to rooting around through the music played by the very early Beatles during their various residencies in Hamburg 1960-62. . . BEFORE they started playing their own material.
When John, Paul, George, Stu (Sutcliffe), and Pete (Best) arrived in Hamburg in mid-August 1960, it didn't take long before they ran out of material, since they were expected to play something like eight hours a night onstage at The Indra. WHile they were forced to repeat songs several times during an evening, they viewed having to do so as the mark of amateurs. They were a professional band by this point after all. So, they began wracking their brains for material to fill out the act, everything from rock & roll and rockabilly, to old pop standards and movie themes, to country & western numbers.
One such tune, that I've seen on some list of Hamburg-era cover tunes online or in a book, was the Don Gibson song from 1958 (featuring Chet Atkins on guitar), Oh, Lonesome Me. Click on the preceding highlighted link to hear the original version. Now, this is based purely on speculation, but since The Beatles, and particularly John and Paul, were such huge fans of the Everly Brothers, it seems plausible that they might have covered Phil and Don's version of the same tune, which featured more interesting interplay between two harmonizing voices. Give a listen to The Everly Brothers singing Oh, Lonesome Me and see what you think.
Hearing this, it's easy to close one's eyes and imagine the still inexperience, teen-aged Beatles playing this on the tiny stage at The Indra as the club patrons smoked, drank, and fought, indifferent to the recently hired group of young scousers onstage. Three of these young men, boys really, would, in just a few years, go on to become part of the biggest music phenomenon of all time. . . Unless, of course, we are talking about Katy Perry or Justin Bieber!