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Feb. 24: Surely that’s a typo, you say — a Beatles cut on a classic country blog? Nay, verily, it’s no mistake. In honor of what would have been George Harrison’s 67th birthday, here’s a song from the Carl Perkins songbook they recorded in 1963 for their BBC radio show. There are those who say the Fab Four sang with a Southern American accent. If that’s true, they no doubt picked it up from wearing the grooves off the records of Perkins and other early rock ‘n’ rollers.

Perkins co-wrote “Sure To Fall,” one of the several stone-country numbers he cut on his earliest days on Sun Records. Carl’s older brother Jay, the band’s rhythm guitarist, sang the verses, and Carl took the higher-pitched bridge section. It was released as a single, but it’s likely the Beatles learned it from the Dance Album of … Carl Perkins on Sun. John, Paul, George and Pete Best first recorded it during their unsuccessful audition for British Decca Records in 1962. Later, with Ringo on the drum kit, they laid it down four times for those BBC shows. Emulating the Perkins brothers, John Lennon sings the lead on the verses, Paul McCartney on the bridge.

All of the Beatles were familiar with country music and appreciated it to one degree or another. They asked EMI to supply them with every Buck Owens album that came out on Capitol, even covering “Act Naturally.” Ringo Starr later cut his Beaucoups Of Blues solo album in Nashville, McCartney did a little recording during his long family vacation in Music City in 1974, and Harrison was a tremendous fan of Chet Atkins, writing the liner notes to Chet’s Picks On The Beatles album.

“Sure To Fall” is one of several nods to The Beatles’ early influences included on the Live At The BBC album. It’s not really country, of course — more of a countryesque novelty, yet truer to the genre than what’s played on modern country radio. Still, it’s great to hear the Liverpool lads tackle one of the lesser-known numbers by their hero Carl Perkins — complete with mandolin-like guitar technique from today’s birthday boy, the late George Harrison.

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