With The Beatles

Chapter 17

1963-17 I Wanna Be Your Man

Have you bought your Crunchie this week?

We were behind the paper shop walking down our secret path to the recce when Dave asked me that.

Not yet, I’m saving it as a special treat until after I win my run next week.

Are you still winning?

I always win! I’m thinking of new ways of winning to make it interesting.

New ways of winning! Like what?

Well I think I’ll hang back with Dinky and Jimmy next week and get them to run better. Dinky’s a really good sportsman, he shouldn’t come last in running.

You’ll come last if you do that.

No, I’ll only stay with them until the second lap, then I’ll set off and win at the last possible moment. I’ll really deserve a Crunchie if I do that!

Ooh, that sounds hard. We could go and get the Crunchie now?

No thanks.

We could get it on the way back after football.

No thanks Dave! Anyway running isnt as hard as playing with those older lads down at the recce. I find that hard. How do you do it?

I’m good at football.

We were wearing our football boots, and slipping around on our secret green path, as we were going to a serious match with the older kids. Football boots and full Bilton Dynamos kit, now renamed Dynamo Athletic. I was thinking of ways of creating my own football team, or failing that maybe my own sports label, but I didn’t have a clue if that was possible or not. Bilton wasn’t universal enough as a name anyway, I needed something distinctive, like Dynamo Athletic; part Soviet, part Stray, wholly global.

The last time we had come down to the recce we encountered the most amazing natural experience we’d ever seen. It was densely foggy, but the fog was only three feet deep and came up to the waists of most of the lads playing there. You couldnt see the ball and you couldn’t see the goals; just the usual pile of jumpers on the ground. This half shroud created a magical environment on the recce. We all looked like we were popping out of the top of a cloud and floating around in heaven or in space somewhere, whilst still being able to see the roof tops of the houses down below the recce. Every so often someone would find the ball, kick it and then promptly lose it again. From time to time a throw-in would be designated and we would then see the ball briefly as it was thrown back into play and everyone tried frantically to keep it in the air so we could continue to see it until, inevitably, it dropped back into the foggy soup at our feet and we would all burst out laughing. Some found it so hysterical that they fell down with laughter and promptly disappeared themselves; to the even greater amusement of those left standing. We knew they were hopeless conditions for football, but we continued playing just because it was so utterly pointless. The funniest match of football I ever played in. If they play football in heaven I’ve done the training.

But playing with the older kids today would be a really serious affair. Several of them had aspirations to go professional making Saturday afternoon the most intense session of the week. We could play as long as we wanted, or at least until someone shouted “five more minutes” or the ball owner had had enough. Mind you we never played much past 4.30 as everyone wanted to be back for Sports Report to get the days football scores. In Harrogate in 1963 most lads supported Spurs as they had done the double the year before and Leeds were still building their squad and future reputation in the second division. There were a lot of white shirts on display that afternoon, which would come in handy when it came to switching allegiances.

The match we were heading for was already underway and we went over and stood on the sidelines. Dave and I always played together and when we were picked for different sides I pointed out that we were brothers and our kid (I had just taken to referring to Dave as “our kid”) always played on the same side as me. When they saw we wouldn’t be shifted on this they made another lad change sides, “our kid” was the magic phrase and Dave and I joined the team kicking uphill. Dave trotted off to the back and I sought out the left wing like family hero Bobby Charlton.

I wanna be your lover baby

I wanna be your man

I wanna be your lover baby

I wanna be your man

Our captain, playing left half just inside of me and bristling with enthusiasm and purpose, was energetically singing some new tune to himself that I didnt recognise.

Tell me that you love me baby

Tell me you understand

Unlike me he was well past puberty, and one of the stars of football on the recce. Dark and compact  he was a natural captain that everyone respected and wanted to played for. He was always looking up and picking out opportunities downfield. Goals often followed from his through balls. He only passed the ball out to me when nothing else was on and my job was to run like hell and get a cross in, or pass it back to him if I got the call.

Tell me that you love me baby

Tell me you understand

If he liked Pop Music, and he liked this song, then it was bound to be a great.

I wanna be your man

I wanna be your man

Get on the end of that Bill, you twat!

What’s that skip?

What what sonny?

That song you’re singing, I’ve never heard it. It’s Pop Music isn’t it?

Pop music! Its RnB that, proper music.

Oh, its not Pop Music then?

It’s I Wanna be Your Man by The Rolling Stones, now shut it and get down the wing and give me an opening.

I wanna be your man

I wanna be your man

Yes skip. I went out to the touchline and waited for a chance to impress him and for an opening to talk to him again.

I wanna be your man

I wanna be your man

Where did you hear it skip?

Hear it? I bought it! I’ve got two cracking singles by The Rolling Stones. Bill! Back; drop back!

The Rolling Stones?

Yeah you can rely on the Stones. They know how to play their instruments and they really know their music.

I wanna be your man

I wanna be your man

Six months later he would shock me by singing out loud “I Just Wanna Make Love to You!” “And baby, LOVE to you!” OUT LOUD! ON THE RECCE! This was quite surprising even to my then thirteen year old self, although I was never quite sure what it meant exactly. But I guessed that my parents would never approve of such stuff, so I never told them about the song, and I ignored the Stones until they became unmissable on Top of the Pops. It’s All Over Now was the one that did it. Brian Jones got some extraordinary noises out of his “plectrum-shaped” guitar and the Stones seemed to be leaning right of the TV and singing into your face despite the picture being poor and grainy with hardly any image resolution. But they would leave me with the sense that RnB, and even albums, were yet more mysteries waiting to be cracked. They sang different kinds of songs, in different styles, written by people with strange names like Muddy Waters. However there was no chance that I would be investigating albums when they cost over a pound. Each!

Tell me that you love me baby

Tell me you understand

I bet Caroline thought of them as horror stories. The Earwigs probably. The lads down the recce seem to get the Stones right away whereas they had some reservations about the Beatles. Not that they didn’t like them and their “better songs”

Tell me that you love me baby

Tell me you understand

What about She Loves You skip? That’s a great record!

Not bad, not bad, better than their earlier stuff, at least they are trying on this one. And its great to have loud music all over the bloody radio for a change.

Is She Loves You, RnB skip?

No lad, don’t be daft, its bloody Pop Music! Now stop talking to me and get back out to the wing, I want you hugging that line for when I need you. And get your crosses in to the penalty spot. We’re here to score goals not look good. I bet you are a bloody Bobby Charlton fan too aren’t you?

Yes skip I am! How did you know?

Never you mind. Danny Blanchflower’s the man, watch my passing and learn son, watch and learn!

The next day, on Pick of the Pops, something magical happened… “And now, with their first top twenty hit singing a song written for them by the Beatles, it’s the Rolling Stones with I Wanna Be Your Man”. Oh great! The Rolling Stones and the Beatles must be friends. What a relief! RnB and Pop Music can live together, they can be friends after all.

When something interesting happened musically I just narrowed my focus and concentrated on it really intensely. I Wanna Be Your Man seemed to propel itself out of the radio sufficient unto itself. It was as full of energy as She Loves You but it was a coarser energy with a propensity to veer all over the place, less organised and less controlled than the Beatles, more wilful and more direct. I was pleased that the skip and I could identify with the same piece of music, even if it was for entirely different reasons.

I Wanna Be Your Man kicks off with a rocking intensity from its first two fiercely strummed chords. It is just one minute and forty three seconds long and, as was often the way then, has established its intent and hooked you in by the end of the first four bars. At which point Mick Jagger cuts in with his cocky, sneering vocals; this isn’t a request after all. Jagger isn’t pleading.

Yeah I wanna be your lover baby

The Beatles wrote “I wanna”, but the Stones sang “I’m gonna”, be your man. So we know the whole story of the song just ten seconds in. The Stones are in a rush, you are in the way, and they are going to sweep you up and carry you along with them. You dont really have a say in it. You really didnt have to say you loved them either.  Then a more purposeful guitar solo than George had managed kicks in after forty four seconds, before the musical order of the song is restored when the chorus kicks back in after a minute.

I wanna be your man

Yes I wanna be…

Then at one minute and twenty seconds Jagger changes his tone and lasciviously licks out your ears with the rest of the lyric from the back of his very deep throat.

I wanna be top (!) baby

I wanna be your man

I got the energy of the song right away but those past puberty got its salacious intent. The Beatles were going to educate you; right here. The Stones were going to seduce you; right now. The Beatles had given them a Pop album track and the Stones had turned it into a hit RnB single.



  1. July 20, 2009 at 10:58 am

    […] story is about I Wanna Be Your Man and can be read by selecting With The Beatles from the pages […]

  2. Nigel Ecclesfield said,

    August 3, 2009 at 7:25 pm

    The flip side is clearly “You’ve got to be MY woman”, there’s not much choice here. Feminism was coming and The Beatles would be part of that, but not here, not now.

  3. August 4, 2009 at 10:07 am

    […] workout I Wanna Be Your Man was also the breakthrough single for the Stones, which I write about in 63/68. Here is a great video that captures that Beatles/Stones […]

  4. September 2, 2009 at 7:35 am

    Cool site, love the info.

    • fred6368 said,

      September 3, 2009 at 7:38 pm

      Hey Bill, thanks, glad you appreciate it. If you like this you might like A Beatles YouTube Album where I review almost every Beatles track with a YouTube link.
      If not, glad you liked this blog 🙂

  5. Terry Brooks said,

    September 25, 2009 at 11:53 am

    Hey, I found your blog while searching on Google your post looks very interesting for me. I will add a backlink and bookmark your site. Keep up the good work!

  6. fred6368 said,

    September 28, 2009 at 9:06 pm

    Hi Terry, thanks, I will look out for the link.

  7. January 8, 2010 at 12:29 pm

    […] I Wanna Be Your Man. I spent a lot of my free time in self-organising play outdoors. This informal learning was helpful […]

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