The Paul McCartney Project

Brown Eyed Handsome Man

Written by Chuck Berry

Album This song officially appears on the Run Devil Run Official album.
Timeline This song has been officially released in 1999
Sessions This song has been recorded during the following sessions

Some other Chuck Berry songs

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Song facts

From Wikipedia:

Brown Eyed Handsome Man” is a rock and roll song written and recorded by Chuck Berry, originally released by Chess Records in September 1956 as the B-side of “Too Much Monkey Business.” It was also included on Berry’s 1957 debut album, After School Session. The song title was also used as the title of a biography of Berry.

Background and recording

Brown Eyed Handsome Man” was written after Berry visited several African-American and Hispanic areas in California. During his time there, he saw a Hispanic man being arrested by a policeman when “some woman came up shouting for the policeman to let him go.”

Brown Eyed Handsome Man” was recorded on April 16, 1956, in Chicago, Illinois. The session was produced by the Chess brothers, Leonard and Phil. Backing Berry were Johnnie Johnson on piano, L. C. Davis on tenor saxophone, Willie Dixon on bass, and Fred Below on drums.

The song was released in September 1956 and reached number 5 on Billboard magazine’s R&B Singles chart later that year.

Relevance in race relations

Glenn C. Altschuler argued that the lyrics of the song “played slyly with racial attitudes and even fears.” Martha Bayles noted that “Berry’s penchant for bragging about his ‘Brown Eyed Handsome Man’’s appeal for white females outraged a lot of people.

Cover versions

The song has been covered by many artists, including Buddy Holly, whose recording was a posthumous top-five hit in the United Kingdom in 1963 and was released on the album Reminiscing. Johnny Rivers also covered the song on his first album, At the Whisky à Go Go, in 1964, as did Nina Simone on her 1967 album High Priestess of Soul and Waylon Jennings on a single from his 1970 album Waylon. It was also covered by Robert Cray on the 1987 live tribute album to Berry, Hail! Hail! Rock ‘n’ Roll and by Paul McCartney on his 1999 album Run Devil Run and on a double A-side single with “No Other Baby“. […]

From the liner notes of “Run Devil Run“:

This Chuck Berry original is more familiar from Holly’s posthumous 1963 single. “We wanted to put an accordion on our version, make it slightly cajun, just to get it away from Buddy’s a bit“.

From an interview with Laura Gross (promotional interview for “Run Devil Run” in 1999):

Paul McCartney: Yeah, this is just a real nice song that Chuck Berry wrote. And we used to know Buddy’s version of it. I think John used to do it a bit, when we were looking for songs. It was one of John’s. I always liked it, it’s a mouthful. Woh-he-got-ta-da-da-da-da-T-W-A-saw-a-man, very Chuck, you know. American life. Flying across the desert in a TWA, I saw a woman walking ‘cross the sand. She’d been walking fifty miles en route to Bombay. Where’s that, where’s that come from, you know. But I just love it. It just pulls it up. To meet the brown eyed handsome man. It’s good, good lyrics in there. As I told you, Milo de Venus was a beautiful girl, she had the world in the palm of her hands. She lost both her arms in a wrestling match to find the brown eyed handsome man, you know. There’s a great humour in that. And it scans great and it sings great. That’s the stuff about that, that’s the secret about this stuff. You can write the cleverest lyrics that don’t sing good. But I liked a lot of Chuck’s things. And so like Back In The U.S.A. was the catalyst for me writing Back In The U.S.S.R. Was like a spoof on Chuck’s stuff. So I, I, I respect him a lot as a songwriter.

Last updated on September 19, 2016

Lyrics

Well, flying across the desert in a TWA
I saw a woman walking across the sand
She'd be walking thirty miles en route to Bombay
To meet a brown eyed handsome man
Her destination was a brown eyed handsome man

Way back in history three thousand years
In fact ever since the world began
There's been a whole lot of good women shedding tears
Over a brown eyed handsome man
A lot of trouble was a brown eyed handsome man

Well, the Milo de Venus was a beautiful lass
She had the world in the palm of her hand
She lost both her arms in a wrestling match
To win a brown eyed handsome man
She fought and won herself a brown eyed handsome man

Well, a beautiful daughter couldn't make up her mind
Between a doctor and a lawyer man
Her mother told her daughter go out
And find yourself a brown eyed handsome man
Just like your daddy was a brown eyed handsome man

Well, a two, three the count with nobody home
He hit a high flyer into the stand
A rounded third he was headed for home
It was a brown eyed handsome man that won the game
It was a brown eyed handsome man

It was a brown eyed handsome man

Officially appears on


Run Devil Run

Official album • Released in 1999

2:27 • Studio versionA

Paul McCartney:
Bass guitar; percussion, Electric guitar, Producer, Vocal
Geoff Emerick:
Engineer
Mick Green:
Electric guitar
David Gilmour:
Electric guitar
Ian Paice:
Drums, Percussion
Pete Wingfield:
Piano
Chris Hall:
Accordion
Chris Thomas:
Producer
Paul Hicks:
Engineer

Session Recording:
Mar 05, 1999
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road


No Other Baby / Brown Eyed Handsome Man

CD Single • Released in 1999

2:28 • Studio versionA1 • Mono

Paul McCartney:
Bass guitar; percussion, Electric guitar, Producer, Vocal
Geoff Emerick:
Engineer
Mick Green:
Electric guitar
David Gilmour:
Electric guitar
Ian Paice:
Drums, Percussion
Pete Wingfield:
Piano
Chris Hall:
Accordion
Chris Thomas:
Producer
Paul Hicks:
Engineer

Session Recording:
Mar 05, 1999
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Bootlegs


Rehearsals at 3 Savile Row

Unofficial album

4:10 • Rehearsal • Get Back-Maybellene--Short Fat Fanny


Rock Devil Rock

Unofficial album • Released in 2000

3:09 • Live • Including false start

Concert From "PETA Party Of The Century" in Hollywood, USA on Sep 18, 1999


Rock Devil Rock

Unofficial album • Released in 2000

2:48 • Live

Concert From "Later... with Jools Holland" in London, United Kingdom on Nov 06, 1999


Rock Devil Rock

Unofficial album • Released in 2000

3:04 • Live

Concert From "Red Alert With The National Lottery" in Windsor, United Kingdom on Nov 13, 1999


Rock Devil Rock

Unofficial album • Released in 2000

2:39 • Live

Concert From "The Apocalypse Tube" in Newcastle, United Kingdom on Nov 20, 1999


Videos

Live performances

“Brown Eyed Handsome Man” has been played in 5 concerts and 1 soundchecks.

Latest concerts where “Brown Eyed Handsome Man” has been played


Live At The Cavern

Dec 14, 1999 • United Kingdom • Liverpool • The Cavern Club


The Apocalypse Tube

Nov 20, 1999 • United Kingdom • Newcastle • Tyne Tees Studios • TV show


Red Alert With The National Lottery

Nov 13, 1999 • United Kingdom • Windsor • Bray Film Studios • TV show


Later... with Jools Holland

Nov 06, 1999 • United Kingdom • London • BBC Centre Wood Lane • TV show


PETA Party Of The Century

Sep 18, 1999 • USA • Hollywood • Paramount Studios


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