Act Naturally

Act Naturally

Infobox Single
Name = Act Naturally

Caption =
Artist = Buck Owens
from Album =
A-side =
B-side =
Released = March 11, 1963
Format = 7"
Recorded = Capitol Studios, Hollywood, Calif., February 12, 1963
Genre = Country
Length = 2:19
Label = Capitol
Writer = Russell/Morrison
Producer = Ken Nelson
Certification =
Last single =
This single =
Next single =
Misc =
Infobox Single
Name = Act Naturally

Artist = The Beatles
from Album = Help!" UK and "Yesterday and Today" U.S.
A-side = Yesterday
Released = 13 September 1965 (US)
Recorded = Abbey Road Studios 17 June 1965
Genre = Country
Length = 2:29
Label = Capitol Records (USA)
Parlophone/EMI (UK)
Writer = Morrison/Russell
Producer = George Martin
Last single = "Let it Be (1970)
This single = "Yesterday"
Yesterday (US-1965)
Next single = "Back in the USSR" (1976)"
"Day Tripper" / "We Can Work It Out""
Misc = Extra tracklisting
Album = Help!
Type = studio
Tracks = ;Side one
# "Help!"
# "The Night Before"
# "You've Got to Hide Your Love Away"
# "I Need You"
# "Another Girl"
# "You're Going to Lose That Girl"
# "Ticket to Ride";Side two
# "Act Naturally"
# "It's Only Love"
# "You Like Me Too Much"
# "Tell Me What You See"
# "I've Just Seen a Face"
# "Yesterday"
# "Dizzy Miss Lizzy"

"Act Naturally" is a song written by Johnny Russell and Voni Morrison, originally recorded by Buck Owens, whose version reached number 1 on the Billboard Country Singles chart in 1963,cite web |url= |title=Buck Owens: Charts & Awards: Billboard Singles |publisher=Allmusic |accessdate=2007-03-15] his first chart-topper.cite web |url= |title=Buck Owens: Biography |publisher=Allmusic |accessdate=2007-03-15] In 2002, Shelly Fabian of ranked the song number 169 on her list of the Top 500 Country Music Songs.cite web |url= |title=Top 500 Country Music Songs |last=Fabian |first=Shelly | |year=2002 |accessdate=2007-03-14]

The song has been covered by many other artists, including Loretta Lynn and The Beatles.cite web |url= |title="Act Naturally" Performers |publisher=Allmusic |accessdate=2007-03-15]

The song

Russell, originally from Oklahoma, was based in Fresno, California in the early 1960s. One night, some of his friends from Oklahoma planned to do a recording session in Los Angeles and asked him to join them. In order to do so, Russell had to break a date with his then-girlfriend. "When she asked me why I was going to L.A., I answered, 'They are going to put me in the movies and make a big star out of me.' We both laughed."cite book |first=Ace |last=Collins |title=The Stories Behind Country Music's All-Time Greatest 100 Songs |publisher=Boulevard |location=New York |year=1996 |pages=175 |isbn=1-57297-072-3]

Thus inspired, Russell quickly came up with a concept for a love song based around his comment. He wrote it that day, and tried to teach it to the singer he was helping in Los Angeles, but he was unable to learn it. Russell then wanted to record it himself, but his then-producer turned it down, claiming that songs about the movies weren't hit material.

A full two years passed before anyone recorded "Act Naturally". [cite web |title=Grand Ole Opry Star Johnny Russell Dies at 61 | Country Music |url= |accessdate=2007-05-30] "No matter how hard I tried, I couldn't get anyone interested in it," Russell said.

Buck Owens' version

By 1963, Russell was writing with a woman named Voni Morrison, who also worked with a Bakersfield, California-based singer named Buck Owens. After Russell played "Act Naturally" for Morrison, she thought it would be a natural for Owens, and she told Russell that she could get him to record it. Because no one had yet recorded it, and Russell had an agreement with Morrison to share songwriting credits, he gave her partial credit, though her only role in the song was submitting it to Owens.

Owens didn't like "Act Naturally" at first. But his tenor backup singer, Don Rich, heard Russell's demo version and liked it, and eventually, the song grew on Owens.cite book |first=Ace |last=Collins |title=The Stories Behind Country Music's All-Time Greatest 100 Songs |pages=176] One night, Russell got a phone call from Owens asking if he could record the song, and he said yes. "I later found out that he had already recorded the song that day and just wanted the publishing rights," Russell said. "I was more than pleased to give him the rights in order to get the song recorded."

Owens recorded "Act Naturally" at the Capitol studios in Hollywood on February 12, 1963, and the single was released on March 11.cite book |first=Bruce |last=Spizer |title=The Beatles' Story on Capitol Records Part One: Beatlemania & The Singles |publisher=498 Productions |location=New Orleans |year=2000 |pages=81 |isbn=0-9662649-1-6] It entered the Billboard country charts on April 13, 1963. On June 15, Owens' version spent the first of four non-consecutive weeks at #1. In all, it spent 28 weeks on the country charts. The song helped to make him a superstar; before the 1960s were over, Owens had placed 19 singles atop the Billboard country charts.cite book |first=Joel |last=Whitburn |title=Top Country Songs 1944 to 2005 |publisher=Record Research |location=Menomonee Falls, Wis. |year=2005 |pages=281 |isbn=0-89820-165-9] The song also helped establish Russell as a songwriter, and in the 1970s he was modestly successful as a singer as well.

The Beatles' version

The Beatles covered the song in 1965 on their album "Help!" (in the United Kingdom) and as the B-side of the "Yesterday" single in the U.S..cite book |first=Craig |last=Cross |title=The Beatles: Day-by-Day, Song-by-Song, Record-by-Record |year=2005 |pages=495, 534-535 |publisher=iUniverse, Inc. |location=Lincoln, NE |isbn=0-595-34663-4]

The Beatles' version is sung by Ringo Starr.cite book |first=Ian |last=MacDonald |authorlink=Ian MacDonald |title=Revolution in the Head: The Beatles' Records and the Sixties |year=1994 |pages=127 |publisher=Henry Holt and Company |location=New York |isbn=0-8050-2780-7] Stephen Thomas Erlewine of Allmusic called it "an ideal showcase for Ringo's amiable vocals."cite web |first=Stephen Thomas |last=Erlewine |url= |title=Review of "Help!" |publisher=Allmusic |accessdate=2007-03-14] They performed the song during an "The Ed Sullivan Show" appearance which was taped on August 14, 1965 and broadcast on September 12, 1965.cite book |first=Bill |last=Harry |title=The Beatles Encyclopedia: Revised and Updated |year=2000 |pages=1044 |publisher=Virgin Publishing |location=London |isbn=0-7535-0481-2]

The Beatles recorded the song on June 17, 1965 in 13 takes. The first 12 takes were evidently used to work out the arrangement; the master was take 13, the only take with vocals. It was mixed the following day. The Beatles almost recorded a song by their engineer Norman Smith, but realized that Starr didn't yet have a vocal on "Help!", and so "Act Naturally" was recorded instead, the last cover they recorded until the "Get Back/Let It Be" sessions in 1969.cite book |first=Mark |last=Lewisohn |authorlink=Mark Lewisohn |title=The Beatles Recording Sessions |year=1988 |pages=60 |publisher=Harmony Books |location=New York |isbn=0-517-57066-1] Smith later had some success as a performer, using the name Hurricane Smith.cite book |first=Bill |last=Harry |title=The Beatles Encyclopedia |pages=1044] In 1973 his song "Oh Babe, What Would You Say?" reached 3 on the Billboard Pop Singles chart in the U.S.cite web |url= |title=Hurricane Smith: Billboard Singles |publisher=Allmusic |accessdate=2007-03-15]

Because Capitol Records' version of the "Help!" album included only the songs that appeared in the movie, plus incidental music from the film, the label held back "Yesterday" and "Act Naturally" and issued them initially as a non-LP single. As the B-side of the U.S. single, "Act Naturally" peaked at #47 in October 1965.cite book |first=Joel |last=Whitburn |title=Top Pop Singles 1955 to 2002 |publisher=Record Research |location=Menomonee Falls, Wis. |year=2002 |pages=45 |isbn=0-89820-155-1] The two songs made their first American album appearance on "Yesterday and Today", released in the U.S. on June 20, 1966.cite book |first=Craig |last=Cross |title=The Beatles: Day-by-Day, Song-by-Song, Record-by-Record |year=2005 |pages=560-561]

When the single was reissued on Apple Records in 1971, "Act Naturally" had the "full apple" side and "Yesterday" ended up on the "sliced apple" side.cite book |first=Bruce |last=Spizer |title=The Beatles on Apple Records |publisher=498 Productions |location=New Orleans |year=2003 |pages=86 |isbn=0-9662649-4-0] That is because "Act Naturally" was the intended A-side and has always been listed as such in Capitol's files.

Buck Owens and Ringo Starr's duet version

In 1989, Owens and Starr, the two most famous singers of "Act Naturally," teamed up for a brand-new version. Released on Capitol Records, the duet peaked at #27 and spent 11 weeks on the Billboard country chart in the summer of 1989.cite book |first=Joel |last=Whitburn |title=Top Country Songs 1944 to 2005 |pages=282] It was not the first time a member of the Beatles had appeared on the country charts: Paul McCartney had done so with Wings in 1974-75 with "Sally G."cite book |first=Joel |last=Whitburn |title=Top Country Songs 1944 to 2005 |pages=240]

The recording was nominated for the 1989 Country Music Association "Vocal Event of the Year" and a 1990 Grammy for "Best Country Vocal Collaboration," but lost both times to "There's a Tear in My Beer," recorded by Hank Williams Sr. and Hank Williams Jr. [cite web |title=CMA Vocal Event of the Year Nominees | |url= |accessdate=2007-05-30] [cite web |title=32nd Grammy Awards 1990 | |url= |accessdate=2007-05-30]



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