My mother and sister exposed me to a lot of Broadway musical soundtracks growing up, mostly against my will. Few of them stood out to me, and really, I resented the fact that they took up valuable stereo time that rightfully belonged to “Weird Al” Yankovic.
If these weren’t in the CD player, why was it even plugged in?
Over time, I grew to appreciate some musicals, such as West Side Story and Hamilton (though that too was made better by Weird Al), but none more so than the winsome The Music Man, which I think I first saw around the age of nine or ten. What it lacks in an entirely satisfying ending it makes up for in its charming conman protagonist Harold Hill and, by my count, at least a solid half-dozen great songs. Among them, “Till There Was You,” which the Beatles recorded for their second album.
With George Harrison’s Spanish-tinged guitar picking (later and more famously adopted on “And I Love Her”) kicking things off, this cover proved to be one of the most strategic Beatles recordings ever. When Capitol Records invited U.S. audiences to Meet the Beatles! on their 1964 label debut, they did so with a dozen songs, 11 of which were selected almost out of convenience: the eight original compositions from the British With the Beatles; the sensational smash that kickstarted their American domination, “I Want to Hold Your Hand”; and the U.S. and U.K. b-sides of that hit, “I Saw Her Standing There” and “This Boy,” respectively. The twelfth track was the more carefully chosen “Till There Was You”–Paul McCartney gently crooning an endearing ballad with which parents of Beatles fans may have already been familiar. Before “Yesterday” it may have been the band’s greatest weapon in winning over naysayers from the previous generation, who never “sawr” it coming.
This cover works extremely well for all audiences though, even boys sick and tired of waiting for their mom and sister to turn off the damn Annie soundtrack already.