*1.04-HEART FULL OF SOUL (Yardbirds)


LISTEN to hit version      LISTEN to sitar version


Sick at heart and lonely,
Deep in dark despair,
Thinking one thought only:
Where is she? tell me where.

And if she says to you
She don't love me
Just give her my message
Tell her of my plea.

     And I know if she had me back again
     I would never make her sad.
     I’ve gotta heart full of soul.



She’s been gone such a long time
Longer than I can bear
But if she says she wants me
Tell her that I’ll be there.

[Repeat 2nd verse]


Heart Full of Soul was the Yardbirds’ second single, again written by Graham Gouldman. Richie Unterberger of allmusic compliments Gouldman by calling him “a genius at effectively alternating tempos and major / minor modes”, citing the fact that in Heart Full of Soul, similar to For Your Love, after a restrained and moody A section, “the tempo suddenly speeds up to a bolero-like gallop and the melody becomes brighter” in the B. Untermeyer also praises the Yardbirds for “the difficult balancing act needed to put over a composition that is simultaneously experimental [in its sound] and commercial [in its ‘forlorn romantic lyric’]”.

Initially lead guitarist Jeff Beck, who had replaced Eric Clapton in the Yardbirds, sought to use a sitar on the song, which would have made the Yardbirds the gateway for introducing pop music to two signature psychedelic instruments (along with the harpsichord). Where Beck got the idea for a sitar is anybody’s guess, but some folk musicians seemed to have heard of sitar by this time. As I recall, Richard Fariña wrote about appreciating sitar in his novel Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up to Me (published in 1966), and David Crosby of the Byrds has noted that he was listening to Ravi Shankar in 1965. It is reported that an Indian sitar player was brought into the studio as well as a tabla player, but the sound proved to be too thin. (A demo recording of Heart Full of Soul using a sitar is available now on the internet.) Had the sitar been successfully used on Heart Full of Soul it would have been the first instance of such a recording in pop music. However, the first instance of sitar turned out to be the Beatles’ Norwegian Wood, released six months later in December 1965, when George Harrison played the instrument.

Instead of using a sitar, Jeff Beck ended up using a fuzz box on his guitar to approximate a sitar sound for Heart Full of Soul. The fuzz box wasn’t specifically a psychedelic instrument. A version of a fuzz box had been used in the early 1960s for novelty records. The first rock use of the fuzz tone was when Dave Davies famously slit his speaker cone of his amplifier with a razor to produce the sound of You Really Got Me for the Kinks in August 1964. Beck used a commercial MK 1Tonebender fuzz box for Heart Full of Soul. The same fuzz box was used by the Rolling Stones in June 1965 to produce (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction, by which time the sound had become ubiquitous.

The lyrics to Heart Full of Soul have little to recommend them but the title, which is used as the dramatic conclusion to the chorus. I do wonder why this lyric would attract an attempted accompaniment on sitar. In the mid-1960s the word soul would have strongly evoked Black popular music, James Brown, Otis Redding, etc. However, by providing a sitar when the audience would expect soulful horns or church organ instead, perhaps the Yardbirds had sought to stretch the meaning of the word into any music that moves you, which any race could create. Here’s another speculation about the term heart full of soul: in the English idiom, one expects to hear heart and soul, as in “I love you heart and soul.” But Gouldman lyrics, like For Your Love, tend not to admit love, but may offer something else in its place. For the poet to say “my heart is full of soul” is to say he feels strongly, deeply, even if that feeling may not be love exactly.