Under Cover: The Black Keys Get Wrapped Up in the Beatles’ ‘She Said She Said’
‘Revolver’ regularly lands at, or near, the top of any given list of best Beatles albums. From start to end, it takes the listener on a fascinating ride. John Lennon in particular wandered into uncharted waters on the band’s classic 1966 album.
Everything about the album and its songs is distinguished by a sense of wide-open adventure. Like ‘She Said She Said’ — from the startling guitar riff that opens the song to the final lysergic rave-up: twists and turns that weren’t previously part of pop music’s language or landscape.
The track was written by Lennon about a conversation that took place at a party in 1965 while the Beatles were on tour in the U.S. They’d rented a house in Beverly Hills, owned by actress Zsa Zsa Gabor, and, on one of their very few days off, decided to throw a party. Among those in attendance were members of the Byrds and various celebrities, including actor Peter Fonda. Midway through the party, the LSD train rolled in, and everyone but Paul McCartney hopped on board.
“[Fonda] kept saying, ‘I know what it’s like to be dead, because I shot myself,’” George Harrison recalled in the Beatles’ ‘Anthology’ documentary. “He’d accidentally shot himself at some time, and he was showing us his bullet wound. He was very uncool.”
“He kept saying it, and we were saying, ‘For Chrissake, shut up, we don’t care, we don’t want to know,’” Lennon later told Rolling Stone. “But he kept going on about it. That’s how I wrote ‘She Said She Said.’”
In 2002, the Black Keys recorded a cover of the song for their debut album, ‘The Big Come Up.’ The duo stripped it to its core and gave it a soulful bite, draining the acid tone from the mix and replacing it with a dirty, bluesy stomp.
The distinct mark of a great cover song is when an artist takes the original and, without losing its center, gives it a new identity and makes it something totally original. The Keys do just that on their blazing cover. And while several parts may be missing from the restructured model on display here, they certainly make the most out of the chassis.