The Paul McCartney Project

My Bonnie

Written by Traditional

Album This song officially appears on the My Bonnie 7" Single.
Sessions This song has been recorded during the following sessions

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Song facts

From Wikipedia:

My Bonnie is a 1962 album by English rock and roll musician Tony Sheridan. Sheridan, then playing in clubs in Hamburg with the Beatles, was discovered by producer Bert Kaempfert and subsequently signed with him to record. Sheridan recorded several songs with the Beatles, two of which were later released as singles. Further recordings without the Beatles filled out the album. Because of the later fame of the Beatles, the material has been repackaged several times.

Background and recording

In June 1961, Sheridan and the Beatles (then consisting of guitarists John Lennon, George Harrison, and Paul McCartney, bassist Stuart Sutcliffe, and drummer Pete Best) were both playing in Hamburg’s Top Ten Club, the two frequently performing together. German producer Bert Kaempfert visited the Top Ten on the recommendation of music publisher Alfred Schacht and singer Tommy Kent, and subsequently signed Sheridan and the Beatles to his company Bert Kaempfert Productions.

Kaempfert set a recording date for 22 June at Hamburg’s Friedrich-Ebert-Halle. Engineered by Karl Hinze, the session featured Sheridan and the Beatles playing “My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean“, “The Saints“, “Why“, “Nobody’s Child“, and “Take Out Some Insurance“. The Beatles performed “Ain’t She Sweet” and an original song, “Beatle Bop” (later titled “Cry For a Shadow“). Sutcliffe attended the session, but did not play, leaving McCartney to play bass. From these sessions, “My Bonnie“/”The Saints” was released as a single through Polydor Records (who had an exclusive deal with Kaempfert’s company) credited to “Tony Sheridan and the Beat Brothers“, as the Beatles’ contract enabled the record company to use a pseudonym.

My Bonnie“/”The Saints” was released in Germany in October 1961 and was a moderate success, peaking at #32 in the national chart published in Der Musikmarkt, #11 in the national jukebox charts, and #4 in a local Hamburg chart. Kaempfert and Sheridan conducted another session on 21 December 1961 at Musikhalle Hamburg, without the Beatles. Ten songs were recorded at this session, which along with “My Bonnie” and “The Saints” formed the My Bonnie LP, released 5 January 1962.

Singles

My Bonnie“/”The Saints” (credited to Tony Sheridan and The Beat Brothers) was first released in October 1961 in West Germany. A Beatles fan in Liverpool named Raymond Jones requested the single at Brian Epstein’s record shop, which led to Epstein becoming interested in and eventually managing the Beatles. The German import became popular in Liverpool, and Epstein secured a British release on 5 January 1962, credited to Tony Sheridan and the Beatles

After the Beatles gained fame several songs from their sessions together were released. “Sweet Georgia Brown/Take Out Some Insurance” was released as a single in 1964. Although “Take Out Some Insurance” was from the June 1961 sessions, the A-side was not. Backing tracks to “Sweet Georgia Brown” and “Swanee River” were recorded by the Beatles 24 May 1962. This session was arranged by Brian Epstein and Bert Kaempfert to free the Beatles from their contract with Kaempfert and Polydor. Sheridan’s vocals to “Sweet Georgia Brown“, referencing the Beatles’ fame, were added later. These versions of “Sweet Georgia Brown” and “Swanee River” are not the recordings featured on My Bonnie.

Ain’t She Sweet“/”Nobody’s Child” and “Why/Cry for a Shadow” were also released as singles.

Other releases

Polydor issued two EPs from the album sessions. The first, Ya Ya (October 1962, Polydor 21 485), contained “Ya Ya“/”Sweet Georgia Brown“/”Skinnie Minnie“. The second, My Bonnie (July 1963, Polydor 21 610) contained “My Bonnie“/”Cry For a Shadow“/”The Saints“/”Why“. […]

From the Anthology book:

We did a recording with Tony Sheridan, My Bonnie, for Bert Kaempfert, a band leader and producer. It was actually ‘Tony Sheridan und die Beat Brothers’. They didn’t like our name and said, ‘Change to The Beat Brothers; this is more understandable for the German audience.’ We went along with it – it was a record. […] A kid had gone into Brian’s record store [in Liverpool] and asked for My Bonnie by The Beatles. Brian had said, ‘No it’s not, it’s by Tony Sheridan,’ and he ordered it. Then Brian heard that we were playing 200 yards away. So he came to the Cavern and the news got to us: ‘Brian Epstein is in the audience – he might be a manager or a promoter. He is a grown-up, anyway.’ It was Us and Grown-ups then. – Paul McCartney

From The Usenet Guide to Beatles Recording Variations:

  • [a] (English intro) stereo 22 Jun 1961, Germany.
    Germany: Polydor 237 112 My Bonnie 1962.
    CD: Polydor 823 701-2 Early Tapes 1985, Polydor (Germany) 840 556-2 Tony Sheridan vol. 3.
  • [a1] (English intro) mono made from [a] 1961, Germany.
    Germany: Polydor 24 673 “Twist” single 1962, Polydor 46 612 My Bonnie 1962, Polydor 21 610 (EP) My Bonnie 1963.
    UK: Polydor 66 833 single 1962, Polydor 21 610 (EP) My Bonnie 1963.
    US: Decca 31382 single 1962.
  • [a2] (no intro) stereo made from [a] 1964, Germany.
    Germany: Polydor 237 622 Let’s do the Twist 1964, Polydor 237 632 Beatles First 1964.
    UK: Polydor 237 622 Let’s do the Twist 1964, Polydor 236 201 Beatles First 1967.
    US: Polydor 244 504 Circa 1960 In the Beginning 1970.
  • [a3] (no intro) mono made from [a2] 1964, Germany.
    Germany: Polydor 52 273 single 1964, Polydor 46 422 Let’s do the Twist 1964, Polydor 46 432 Beatles First 1964.
    UK: Polydor 52 273 single 1964, Polydor 46 422 Let’s do the Twist 1964.
    US: MGM K 13213 single 1964, MGM E 4215 Beatles with Tony Sheridan 1964.
  • [a4] (no intro) mock stereo made from [a2] 1964, by MGM, USA.
    US: MGM SE 4215 Beatles with Tony Sheridan 1964.
  • [a5] (English intro) stereo made from [a] 1995.
    CD: Apple CDP 8 34445 2 Anthology 1 1995.
  • [b] (German intro) stereo 22 Jun 1961, Germany.
    Germany: Polydor 2 801 033 single 1978 CD: Polydor (Germany) 841 141-2 Tony Sheridan vol. 1.
  • [b1] (German intro) mono made from [b] 1961, Germany.
    Germany: Polydor 24 673 “Mein Herz ist bei dir nur” single 1961.
    France: Polydor 21 914 Mr Twist (EP) 1962, Polydor 45 900 Les Beatles 1964.
    Sweden: Polydor 2 230 114 EP 1982.

This song comes with a slow introduction in English (32 seconds) or German (35 seconds) or with no introduction. The two intros are similar musically but slight differences show them to be different takes and not vocals dubbed on the same backing track.

The recollection of engineer Karl Hinze is that the Harburg recordings were made on a portable 2-track deck and mixed live to stereo. This means the mono mixes are all reductions of the stereo mixes, and not separate mixes as they are in the case of nearly all the EMI recordings. The mono and stereo versions therefore should not contain variations, and none has been found.

The order of recording of the eight songs is not known. The master tapes and documentation kept by Bert Kaempfert Produktion were lost in a fire, but the recording dates given to Polydor in 1961-1964 were copied from the now-lost Kaempfert files and should be correct. The first two days’ work is shown only as 22 June. My Bonnie and The Saints first appeared in 1961, Why and Cry for a Shadow early in 1962 in France, Sweet Georgia Brown late in 1962, and the rest in 1964. Gottfridsson’s book The Beatles: From Cavern to Star-club details the recording and releases.

Hinze refers to the loss of the slow intro to My Bonnie as an edit, which would mean the English intro is part of the recording and the German intro uses an edit piece. We know that the test pressing record the Beatles brought to England on July 2 had the English intro. But it still may be that both intros are edit pieces added to a recording of the song only.

Single 24 673 was issued in two versions but with the same number, the German intro in Oct 1961 and the English intro in Jan or Feb 1962. They have the same sleeve, except that the English intro version has the word “Twist” in a large box on the front, and the German intro version has the subtitle “(Mein Herz ist bei dir nur)” shown on the back and on the label. The “Twist” English intro was used for the UK and US singles in 1962, for Tony Sheridan’s first album in 1962 (in mono and stereo), and again on an EP in 1963.

The German intro is much the rarer of the two, and was used again after 1961 only on a French EP and again on a 1964 French LP, after which it has been used only on special releases. It finally appeared in stereo on a 1978 German single, a limited pressing but at least for sale to the general public. The German lyric is by Bernd Bertie, whose name sometimes appears on labels for versions with the English intro or no intro– a “variation” of sorts.

Starting with reissue singles of 1964, the no-intro version became standard on all releases. From 1978, the stereo English intro again became standard and is for example on the CD.

The modified mix [a5] for the Anthology has the English intro crossfaded with unrelated spoken word, obscuring the first line of the vocal, and an edit occurs at the end of the intro, after which the stereo image is reversed. The sound balance has also been altered, possibly to emphasize the Beatles’ role, but the bass is less convincing. This was probably done at EMI, London. The reversal adds weight to the idea the intro is a separate edit piece, but EMI may have separated it from the body as they worked on the crossfade for Anthology.

Last updated on July 7, 2017

Lyrics

My Bonnie lies over the sea
My Bonnie lies over the ocean
Oh bring back my Bonnie to me

My Bonnie lies over the ocean
My Bonnie lies over the sea
Well my Bonnie lies over the ocean
Yeah bring back my Bonnie to me

Yeah bring back, ah bring back
Oh bring back my Bonnie to me, to me
Oh bring back, oh bring back
Oh bring back my Bonnie to me

Well my Bonnie lies over the ocean
My Bonnie lies over the sea
Yeah my Bonnie lies over the ocean
Oh I said bring back my Bonnie to me

Officially appears on


My Bonnie

EP

Studio version


My Bonnie

7" Single • Released in 1961

Studio version


Anthology 1

Official album • Released in 1995

2:42 • Studio versionA5

Paul McCartney:
Backing vocals, Bass
John Lennon:
Backing vocals, Rhythm guitar
George Harrison:
Backing vocals, Lead guitar
Pete Best:
Drums
Bert Kaempfert:
Producer
Karl Hinze:
Engineer
Tony Sheridan:
Lead guitar, Vocals

Session Recording:
Jun 22, 1961
Studio:
Friedrich-Ebert-Halle

Bootlegs


I Hope We Passed The Audition

Unofficial live

2:09 • Studio version

Live performances

Paul McCartney has never played this song in concert.


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