I Saw Her Standing There (from The Improvising Pianist’s Ultimate Guide to The Beatles)

A Guide To Help You Have More Fun At Your Piano

Ron Drotos

History and overview:
“I Saw Her Standing There” was the first track on the first Beatles album. For me, listening to the song provides a direct connection with their live performances before they became super-famous. The song is fun, provides lots of raw energy, and is very related to the rock and roll the group sought to emulate in so many of their early songs.

Here are some recommended recordings/videos:
(for international readers who may not have access to these YouTube links, I’ve indicated the original album names wherever possible so you can listen to them on music streaming services, etc.)

I Saw Her Standing There (Remastered 2009)

The Beatles – I Saw Her Standing There (live)

Billy Joel – I Saw Her Standing There (from Live at Shea Stadium)

Paul McCartney returned to Shea Stadium to perform a duet with Billy Joel during the final concert ever held at the stadium where the Beatles had performed decades earlier.

Musical ideas and piano improv practice tips:
“I Saw Her Standing There” perfectly illustrates the relationship between the early Beatles’ music and the American rock and roll of the time. On the one hand, the lyrics, underlying beat, and overall sound are directly influenced by Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley, and the other American rockers of the 1950s and early 60s. On the other hand, McCartney uses an “older” song form, AABA, which was more typical of the Great American Songbook material from the 1940s and pre-rock 50s. (It was still commonly used on ballads, but less so on uptempos). McCartney also goes to the bVI chord, C major in the key of E, at the high point of each ‘A’ Section. This harmonic surprise lends a freshness that permeates the whole composition.

While McCartney’s bass line is of course wonderful, repeating 8th notes can be very tiring to our left hand when played on piano. Try using boogie woogie patterns instead and see what you think. I enjoy this because it brings out the rhythm and blues roots of the style and is a very pianistic texture. You can also use all your blues licks and techniques when soloing over the chord changes.

Here’s how this all sounds on the piano:
I Saw Her Standing There: Complete Beatles Piano #3

Enjoy the journey, and “let the music flow!”

Further links and resources:
I Saw Her Standing There: The Beatles Bible

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Introduction            Table of Contents

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