I can tell you from personal experience that singing in a foreign language is hard. It's especially hard when you really have very little clue how to properly read or pronounce the words, and you have to resort to phonetic approximations, scrawled on a sheet of paper by yourself or a frustrated record producer. I count myself as one of the world's lame single-language English-speakers -- my current second-language fluidity from my college Spanish I would liken to trying to run on a newly-tarred road covered in honey, Krazy Glue, and rotten bear pelts. After attempting to sing in phonetic French with my decidedly-very-not-French Wisconsin accent, I certainly garnered a deepened appreciation for all those musicians from Not America and Not Great Britain and Not Canada and Not Australia who routinely sing in English both live and on record, sometimes exclusively so.

I thought today I would take a quick revisit to the '60s, when the record industry was peaking on the creative output from a slew of British bands, some of whom became rather popular. Some of these rad combos were encouraged to record a 45 or two in different languages for exclusive release in other European countries, assuring more radio play and record sales there. Although every British citizen has far more exposure to multiple foreign languages on a regular basis than does the average American, I do not believe that any of the members of these bands at the time had more than a slight conversational facility in German or Italian...outside of maybe Mick Jagger, who I can totally see swanning around speaking French or Italian with some annoying confidence.

The Beatles got their first major career boost from playing in dank German clubs in their earliest years, so the songs they re-recorded in German -- "She Loves You" and "I Want To Hold Your Hand" -- were a bit of a "thank you" to those beer-swilling, night-dwelling Hamburg hooligans that helped them to the toppermost of the poppermost. Just reading along with the German makes me feel my struggle with French is, like, nothing compared to this glottal achievement.

I once knew these both by heart. Phonetic heart.

The Beatles, "Sie Liebt Dich"

The Beatles, "Komm Gib Mir Deine Hand"

One of the Rolling Stones' prettiest songs and certainly a stand-out for them in their otherwise-raucous sound in 1965, was "As Tears Go By," which became a worldwide hit for the lovely and mysterious teenage Marianne Faithfull. Here, the Stones deliver the song in Italian, with quaintly studious elocution from college-attender, Mick Jagger. I don't think I got to even hear this version until around 10-12 years later.

The Rolling Stones, "Con Le Mie Lacrime"

I absolutely love the Yardbirds, one of my favorite childhood bands, but this 1966 Italian job, "Questa Volta" is a real low-point in their career. It got to #11 on the Italian charts despite its weak sauce sound and lack of Jeff Beck on the recording.

The Yardbirds, "Questa Volta"

The Hollies spent part of their 1967 Abbey Road Studios session recording this single for Italian-only release. They sound like nearly every pop commercial released that year for Great Shakes or Floyd's Auto Jamboree or Flip Out Dental Floss. I don't really know if the latter two ever existed, but let's say they did. The second song is a live take from the same year, because YouTube is a blocking bunch of turdwranglers. It's cool, though.

The Hollies, "Devi Avere Fidicia In Me"

The Hollies, "Non Prego Per Me" (live 1967, San Remo Song Festival)

What, no Kinks here? Oh, HELL, no. Not those guys. So we have to leave it to very competent French speaker and '60s hit songstress Petula Clark to sing "A Well Respected Man" for them. Sing us out, ma jolie chanteuse!

Petula Clark, "Un Jeune Homme Bien"