118 – I’m Happy Just To Dance With You – John Conte

Original version recorded March 1 1964

Ukulele version recorded January 2011


John Conte – Vocals & multi-tracked bass guitar

Mike Leslie – Ukulele

David Barratt: Ukulele

Mary Stuart – Vibes


Produced by David Barratt at The Abattoir Of Good Taste, Brooklyn from original recordings made by John Conte  on a digital 4 track device w/ built in mic in The Talbot Hotel, Oundle, England.


Written and Credited to Lennon McCartney




“I’m Happy Just To Dance With You” is a knocked off made to measure hand-me-down by John and Paul for George to sing during the filming of “A Hard Days Night”.  


In the film the song is introduced by Lionel Blair dancing in an art gallery with pictures of beetles on the wall. Blair’s camp image came to the fore in the 1960s, when, with his dance troupe, he appeared on many British television variety programmes. Lennon parodies Blair’s moves just before the band sets up and paraphrases Mickey Rooney in  “Strike Up The Band” (1940) when he says – “Why don’t we do the show right here?”


At the end of the sequence in the film John says in the most patronising manner – “That’s very good that George”.


McCartney called it a "formula song", and Lennon said, "I would never have sung it myself."


It was to be a while before George came into his own as a writer, but it was around this time that he was to meet the inspiration for one of his greatest compositions. Patti Boyd played the part of one of the schoolgirls chasing The Beatles. Ironically it was George that chased Patti. His initial overtures to her were spurned because she had a boyfriend at the time but he persisted.Within 18 months they were married and a couple of years after that he wrote what is arguably one of the greatest love songs ever – “Something”


The ukulele version of “I’m Happy Just To Dance With You” is a much darker affair. All of the innocence has been drained from the song. The protagonist doesn’t need much from his love object. Just a dance. Just someone to hold on to. The night is cold and long and a little company goes a long way.





John Conte has been living in NYC for 23 years  and has forged his existence as a touring musician & bassist on  vast numbers of recording sessions , major & indie label records , commercials , film music ,  as well as mall openings , dentist office xmas parties, bowling banquets, and work as a part time carnival barker.


John is also known for his work and co-writing with his brother Steve. Together they have released 3 albums including “The Contes” & “Crown Jewels” – the latter voted  one the best unsigned bands in America by musician magazine in 1998. Most recently he’s formed a rock n’ roll band for with his wife Lisa called ‘Leo’s Mom”. 


Recently,  John & his wife Lisa formed a rock n’ roll band for kids  called "Leo’s Mom". Last year they released their 1st cd – "My Imagination" (availablle at itunes & cdbaby.com)









The  wacky thing is about this is that 6 months prior to hearing about The Beatles Complete On Ukulele project I had recorded this rough idea in a hotel room for no reason.


I was on tour in the u.k. and had come down with the flu.


Luckily we had a couple of days off in the same hotel. I spent 2 days drinking herbal tea ,then water ,passing out ,waking to go to the loo then repeat….


But somewhere in between all that I would pick up my bass and play a bit to see if signs of life were returning. I was just noodling  around in the key D  -fretting notes on the G string with the open D droning beneath it. My fingerings stumbled  across the melody of the song that John & Paul had written for George to sing in “Hard Days Night”.


I was then reminded of this idea I had to deconstruct happy sounding songs and see what happens to the meaning of the lyric  when for example the tempo is slowed down. I decided to give it a go at singing it this way.


Hearing the lyrics slowed down the song really hits me as a desperate plea for the slightest chance to initiate a connection with a would be lover. For me , this  meaning has always been masked by the peppy version we all know by the fab four and the emphasis of the word ”happy” in the title. 


I recorded this on a boss micro BR which I carry with me on the road. it’s a tiny digital 4 track recorder – the size of a cassette tape jewel box with a built in mic of marginal quality.


The hotel I was staying in was actually an historic old inn that dated back to the 1600’s – it was where mary  queen of scotts was held prisoner and later murdered.


The kind of place where the floor  boards creaked with ones every movement and the walls seemed rather thin as  I could hear a lot going on in the room next to me .


So as I recorded  the vocals late at  night I was trying to sing in a hushed voice while still projecting some kind of pitch & feeling.


After some consideration from David – we decided not to re-record this in a more “proper”manor and instead keep this original “scratch pad”  version  in all it’ it’s random splendor….. recorded basically as it came to me.


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