Music Friday: Beatles Sing, 'Give Back Your Ring to Me, And I Will Set You Free'

November 3, 2022

Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you great throwback songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. In today’s selection, John Lennon of The Beatles performs the lead vocals to “Anna,” the third track of the legendary group’s 1963 debut studio album, Please Please Me.

Beatlesanna1

In the song, Lennon woefully accepts the fact that his girlfriend is in love with another man. He also insists on the return of the shining symbol of his affection, singing, “Anna, just one more thing girl / You give back your ring to me / And I will set you free / Go with him.”

Written and originally recorded by Arthur Alexander, “Anna” was a favorite of Lennon, who recommended that The Beatles cover it for Please Please Me.

When Alexander released his version 60 years ago in September 1962, it peaked on the Billboard chart at a modest #68. Less than a year later, it would be included on one of the most famous albums of all time — a work that would launch the careers of The Fab Four.

The album Please Please Me was released in the UK in March 1963 and in the U.S. in January of 1964 by Vee-Jay Records under the name Introducing… The Beatles.

Interestingly, the U.S. version stalled for nine weeks at #2 on the Billboard album chart. The #1 album during the same period was Meet The Beatles on Capitol Records.

Music critics noted that Lennon’s raspy vocals on “Anna” reflected a “tortured pain.” One explanation is that Lennon had a terrible cold during the historic session of February 1, 1963, when The Beatles recorded 11 songs in 10 hours.

Another oddity about the song is its subtitle (Go to Him). The lyrics of both Alexander’s and The Beatles’ versions clearly state, “Go with him.”

The Beatles went on to become the best-selling band in history, with 177 million certified records in the US and 600 million records worldwide. In 2004 and again in 2011, the group topped Rolling Stone magazine's list of the Greatest Artists in History.

The two surviving Beatles are Paul McCartney (80) and Ringo Starr (82). John Lennon was shot and killed by an obsessed fan in New York City in 1980. He was 41. George Harrison died of lung cancer in 2001 at the age of 58.

We invite you to enjoy the audio track of Lennon and The Beatles performing “Anna.” As a bonus, we've also included Alexander's original version. The lyrics are below if you’d like to sing along.

“Anna (Go to Him)”
Written by Arthur Alexander. Performed by The Beatles.

Anna, you come and ask me girl
To set you free, girl
You say he loves you more than me
So I will set you free
Go with him
(Anna)
Go with him
(Anna)

Anna, girl, before you go now
I want you to know now
That I still love you so
But if he loves you more
Go with him

All of my life I’ve been searching for a girl
To love me like I love you
Oh, now
But every girl I’ve ever had
Breaks my heart and leaves me sad
What am I, what am I supposed to do?
Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh

Anna, just one more thing girl
You give back your ring to me
And I will set you free
Go with him

All of my lifeI’ve been searching for a girl
To love me like I love you
But let me tell you now
But every girl I’ve ever had
Breaks my heart and leaves me sad
What am I, what am I supposed to do?
Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh

Anna, just one more thing girl
You give back your ring to me
And I will set you free
Go with him
(Anna)
Go with him
(Anna)
You can go with him girl
(Anna)
Go with him

Beatles Version 1963

Arthur Alexander Original Version 1962

Credit: The Beatles with Ed Sullivan by CBS Television, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.