- Published on 1964
- Author: Leiber/Stoller/Penniman
- Track 7 on “Beatles For Sale“
PAUL 1984: “It requires a great deal of nerve to just jump up and scream like an idiot, you know? Anyway, I would often fall a little bit short, not have that little kick, that soul, and it would be John who would go, ‘Come on! You can sing it better than that, man! Come on, come on! Really throw it!’ Alright, John, OK… He was certainly the one I looked up to, most definitely.”
PAUL 1985: “John used to egg me on. He used to say, ‘Come on, Paul, knock the shit out of ‘Kansas City,’ just when the engineers thought they had a vocal they could handle.”
About “Kansas City/Hey-Hey-Hey-Hey” medley
“Kansas City” is a rhythm and blues song written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller in 1952. First recorded by Little Willie Littlefield the same year, the song later became a chart-topping hit when it was recorded by Wilbert Harrison in 1959. “Kansas City” is one of Leiber and Stoller’s “most recorded tunes, with more than three hundred versions”, with several appearing in the R&B and pop record charts.
The song “Hey-Hey-Hey-Hey”, also known as “Hey-Hey-Hey-Hey! (Goin’ Back to Birmingham)”, was written by Little Richard and recorded on May 9, 1956 at J&M Studio, New Orleans, Louisiana.
Paul McCartney discovered the track in the first half of 1959 when Little Richard’s 1955 medley “Kansas City”/”Hey, Hey, Hey, Hey” was re-released as a 45 in Britain. McCartney revered this particular rendition and was unaware of Wilbert Harrison’s version. The Beatles earliest performance of the song can be dated to the early summer of 1960 with its appearance on a set list McCartney copied to a piece of scrap paper.
In 1964, the group released the album Beatles for Sale featuring an arrangement of “Kansas City/Hey-Hey,-Hey-Hey” based on the Little Richard version.
Meaning of “Kansas City/Hey, Hey, Hey, Hey”
The lyrics of “Kansas City” are about a person expressing a desire to go to Kansas City, a city known for its vibrant music scene, particularly in the realm of blues and jazz. It’s a lively and upbeat song that captures the excitement of wanting to be a part of the musical energy of the city.
The second part, “Hey, Hey, Hey, Hey,” doesn’t have a specific narrative. Instead, it consists of a repetitive, catchy refrain that adds to the overall energetic feel of the medley.
“Kansas City/Hey, Hey, Hey, Hey” is a celebratory homage to the exuberance and excitement of the music scene, capturing the spirit of rock ‘n’ roll.
- Paul McCartney: lead vocals, bass, handclaps
- John Lennon: backing vocals, rhythm guitar, handclaps
- George Harrison: backing vocals, lead guitar, handclaps
- Ringo Starr: drums, handclaps
- George Martin: piano