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The Beatles toured the United States twice before quitting the road altogether in 1966. Along the way, they played cities like Memphis, Jacksonville, Cleveland and Kansas City, in addition to the large-city venues you’d expect. Sadly, they never played North Carolina — their closest venues being D.C. Stadium and the Washington Coliseum in Washington, D.C., and the Baltimore Civic Center in Maryland.

But the Fab Four did leave its mark on the Tar Heel State — and not just because Lennon referred to Sir Walter Raleigh as a “stupid git” in “I’m So Tired” (Raleigh popularized tobacco in Britain, so Lennon blamed him for his cigarette addiction).

The Beatles played a big role in the recording of James Taylor’s 1968 ode to his home state, “Carolina In My Mind.” Taylor penned the song while in London recording for the Beatles’ label, Apple Records. The song reflected his homesickness at the time.

In the original recording (embedded below), Paul McCartney played bass and George Harrison sang back up.

According to Wikipedia, the lyric “Now with a holy host of others standing round me,” references Taylor’s respect for the Beatles, who were recording the White Album at the time in the same studio. Taylor’s song, “Something in the Way She Moves,” also proved to be an obvious influence in Harrison’s “Something,” recorded the following year for the Beatles’ “Abbey Road.”

Of course, today “Carolina in My Mind” is the unofficial state anthem of North Carolina and the University of North Carolina — Chapel Hill. Taylor’s grew up in Carrboro, and his father taught at UNC’s School of Medicine.

The version of the song most often used by UNC and the state was actually recorded a few years later for Taylor’s 1976 “Greatest Hits” album, because of difficulty obtaining licensing rights from Apple during the 1970s. So, unfortunately … the one hear most often is Beatles-free.

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