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Released in 1964


Written by Carl Perkins

Last updated on July 31, 2023

Album This song officially appears on the Long Tall Sally EP.

Timeline This song was officially released in 1964

Related sessions

This song was recorded during the following studio sessions:

Other Carl Perkins songs by The Beatles

Related interviews

From Wikipedia:

Matchbox” is a rockabilly song recorded by Carl Perkins in December 1956. It shares some lyrics with 1920s blues songs by Ma Rainey and Blind Lemon Jefferson. Sam Phillips and Sun Records released the song as the B-side to “Your True Love“. Although only the A-side became a record chart hit in 1957, “Matchbox” is one of Perkins’ best-known recordings. A variety of musicians have recorded the song, including the Beatles. […]

Perkins recording

After recording “Your True Love” at Sun Records studio, Carl Perkins’s father Buck suggested that he write a song based on snatches of lyrics that he remembered. Buck knew only a few lines from the song from the recordings by Jefferson or the Shelton Brothers. As Perkins sang the few words his father had suggested, Jerry Lee Lewis, who was at that time a session piano player at Sun Studios, began a restrained boogie-woogie riff. Carl began picking out a melody on the guitar and improvised lyrics. The Sun recording on December 4, 1956 was produced by Sam Phillips at Sun Studios in Memphis.

Perkins maintained that he had never heard Jefferson’s song when he recorded “Matchbox“. The songs are musically, thematically, and lyrically totally different. Jefferson’s song is about a mean spirited woman; Perkins’ is about a lovelorn “poor boy” with limited prospects.

The “Matchbox” recording session is historically significant as a milestone in rock and roll history because later that day, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, and Lewis were all in the Sun Studio with Sam Phillips with Carl Perkins and his band. The impromptu group formed at this jam session became known as the Million Dollar Quartet.

Carl Perkins performed the song on ABC-TV’s Ozark Jubilee on February 2, 1957. Perkins and his band also performed the song on the syndicated TV show Ranch Party hosted by Tex Ritter in 1957. There was also a promo ad for the release of the Sun single in Billboard magazine. […]

The Beatles’ rendition

The Beatles were fans of Perkins and began performing the song circa 1961. Their then-drummer, Pete Best, performed the lead vocals. The only known recording of the song featuring Best singing the song is a live recording. In 1962, John Lennon sang the song during a performance at the Star-Club in Hamburg, Germany; a recording of this exists and was included on Live! at the Star-Club in Hamburg, Germany; 1962.

The next year, the Beatles performed “Matchbox” with Ringo Starr on lead vocals for their BBC radio show, and this version would be included on the Live at the BBC album. Starr also sang lead vocals when it was recorded in 1964. There are suggestions that Perkins may have been present in the studio at that time. As was usually the case, all instruments on the song are played by the Beatles themselves, with the exception of the piano, which was played by producer George Martin. “Matchbox” appeared on the Long Tall Sally EP in the UK. In the US, it appeared on the Capitol Something New album, and was released as a Capitol single on August 24, 1964, which reached number 17 on the Billboard Hot 100. “Matchbox” reached No. 6 on the Canadian CHUM Hit Parade charts in 1964. It was also included on the Past Masters and Mono Masters compilations released in 1988 and 2009, respectively.

It is not known whether or not Lennon played the 12-string Rickenbacker 325 on the track. In Andy Babiuk’s The Beatles Gear, Babiuk describes the possibility of the Rickenbacker 325/12. Others say Lennon only used the guitar as a back-up during live performances. The lead guitar solo, however, could be played by Lennon, due to the style and tone, and Harrison could have played his Rickenbacker 360/12. The majority of sources describe the lead guitar as Harrison playing his Gretsch Tennessean twice over. Also, some describe the piano as the work of Paul McCartney, overdubbing it after the basic takes. […]


[…] The song is also included in the Paul McCartney live album Tripping the Live Fantastic as a soundcheck tune between concert songs; it has been performed by McCartney in every tour as a soundcheck song. McCartney also released a live soundcheck recording of the song as a bonus Back in the U.S. DVD release in 2002. […] McCartney also performed the song during his Unplugged concert for MTV in 1991 (although the song does not appear on the album).

Paul McCartney’s publishing company MPL Communications administers the rights to the song, which was originally published by Knox Music, Inc., BMI.

From The Usenet Guide to Beatles Recording Variations:

  • [a] mono 4 Jun 1964. edited.
    UK: Parlophone GEP 8920 (EP) Long Tall Sally 1964, Parlophone PSLP 261 and PCM 1001 Rarities 1978-79.
    US: Capitol 5255 single 1964, Capitol T 2018 Something New 1964.
    CD: EMI EP box set 1991.
  • [b] stereo 22 Jun 1964. edited.
    US: Capitol ST 2018 Something New 1964, Capitol SKBO-11537 Rock and Roll Music 1976.
    UK: Parlophone PCSP 719 Rock and Roll Music 1976.
    CD: EMI CDP 7 90043 2 Past Masters 1 1988.

This has generous reverb on the vocal, and stereo [b] has more than mono [a]. Ringo sings the last word of “your puppy dog runs” indistinctly in mono [a], but that is corrected by an edit or overdub in stereo [b]. The guitar solo ends differently so at least one of the two has an edit there.


I said I'm sitting here watching

Matchbox holdin' my clothes

I said I'm sitting here wondering

Matchbox holdin' my clothes

I ain't got no matches

But I sure got a long way to go

I'm an old poor boy

And I'm a long way from home

I'm an old poor boy

And I'm a long way from home

I've never been happy

'Cause everything I ever did was wrong

Well, if you don't want my peaches, honey

Please don't shake my tree

If you don't want any of those peaches, honey

Please don't mess around my tree

I've got news for you, baby

Leave me here in misery

All right

Well, let me be your little dog

Till your big dog comes

Let me be your little dog

Till your big dog comes

And when your big dog gets here

Watch how your puppy dog runs

Well, I said I'm sitting here watching

Matchbox holdin' my clothes

I said I'm sitting here watching

Matchbox holdin' my clothes

I ain't got no matches

But I sure got a long way to go

Officially appears on

See all official recordings containing “Matchbox


See all bootlegs containing “Matchbox


Live performances

Matchbox” has been played in 13 concerts and 154 soundchecks.

Latest concerts where “Matchbox” has been played

See all concerts where “Matchbox” has been played

Paul McCartney writing

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Notice any inaccuracies on this page? Have additional insights or ideas for new content? Or just want to share your thoughts? We value your feedback! Please use the form below to get in touch with us.

gary buchli • 4 years ago

lyrics are wrong for matchbox. It should say would a matchbox hold my clothes not hole in my clothes

The PaulMcCartney Project • 4 years ago

Thanks Gary, I'm fixing it !

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