The Beatles’ essential pop-rock ditty about a simple request, “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” packed one hell of an emotional wallop during last night’s religion-themed episode of “Glee.” Even the most jaded Gleeks had their faith restored when Kurt (Chris Colfer) tearfully dedicated the tune to his ailing father (played by Mike O’Malley). While other songs featured on “Glee” don’t do much to add to the originals, “I Want to Hold Your Hand” was given a new spin, all the while reminding fans just how timeless it is.
Written by incomparable duo John Lennon and Paul McCartney, “I Want to Hold Your Hand” was not only the British band’s first #1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100, but its seven-week run at the top slot remains the Fab Four’s most successful single of all time.
Originally recorded at EMI Studios in London in 1963, it was eventually released by Capitol Records as a B-side single. In the biography “Paul McCartney: Many Years From Now,” the musician recalls how “I Want to Hold Your Hand” was an entirely collaborative effort between himself and Lennon. Saying that the song was done “eyeball to eyeball,” McCartney acknowledged it was the song “that would eventually break us in America.”
How right he was. The tune peaked in the U.S. on February 1, 1964, and Beatlemania had officially made its way stateside. Case in point? Their screech-inducing, legendary February 9, 1964, appearance on “The Ed Sullivan Show.” The song went on to receive a Grammy nomination for Record of the Year (it lost to “The Girl From Ipanema”) and, more than 30 years later, became a recipient of the Grammy Hall of Fame Award in 1998.
The accolades for the song (which clocks in at less than two and a half minutes) didn’t end there. “I Want to Hold Your Hand” was, amongst many of its bragging rights, included in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll, and Rolling Stone magazine placed it at #16 on their list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All-Time in 2010.
The song would also be featured on various Beatles anthologies including 1, the comprehensive collection of all the band’s #1 hits. Of course, variations of the song can be heard in covers by artists like Petula Clark and the Moving Sidewalks. More recently, however, the song remained a pop culture mainstay when it was featured in the 2007 film “Across the Universe” (a musical based on much of the Beatles catalog) and earlier this year when “American Idol” hopeful Haeley Vaughn belted her own rendition of the timeless tune.