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The Beatles Songs: Think For Yourself

The history of this classic Beatles song

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The Beatles Songs: Think For Yourself

The original UK sheet music for "Think For Yourself"

rarebeatles.com

Think For Yourself

Working title: Won't Be There With You
Written by: George Harrison (100%)
Recorded: November 8, 1965 (Studio 2, Abbey Road Studios, London, England)
Mixed: November 9, 1965
Length: 2:17
Takes: 1

Musicians:

John Lennon: harmony vocals, organ (1965 Vox Continental Mk 1)
Paul McCartney: harmony vocals, bass guitar (1961 Hofner 500/1)
George Harrison: lead vocals, rhythm guitar (1961 Sonic Blue Fender Stratocaster)
Ringo Starr: drums (Ludwig), maracas, tambourine

Available on: (CDs in bold)
Rubber Soul (UK: Parlophone PMC 1267; US: Capitol PCS 3075; Parlophone CDP 7 46440 2)
Yellow Submarine ("Songtrack": Capitol/Apple CDP 7243 5 21481 2 7)

History:

  • Another milestone in George Harrison's songwriting development, "Think For Yourself" can also be considered the one of the first "socially conscious" or even political Beatles songs; although the lyrics are vague enough to be about a romantic partner, Harrison himself has revealed that the lyrics rail against narrow-mindedness in general, and suspects that he was specifically thinking of the British government when writing them.
  • The recording of the song was quite simple, even by mid-period Beatle standards. The band rehearsed the song and recorded it in one take, with very few overdubs, on November 8, 1965, during one of the later sessions for the Rubber Soul album. The basic tracks were laid down with organ, guitar, bass and drums, then the vocals were re-recorded, the harmonies perfected, and extra percussion added courtesy of Ringo.
  • The main musical feature of "Think For Yourself" was Paul's adaptation of a heavily distorted bass line, what would soon become known in the business as a "fuzz bass." According to George, the band had heard the effect on Bob B. Soxx and the Blue Jeans' 1963 recording of "Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah" (actually an accidental distortion that producer Phil Spector decided to leave in) and decided to replicate the effect. Paul ran his Hofner violin bass through a Vox Tone Bender, the first such guitar effects box manufactured in England, and used the result as a lead line -- there's actually a second, normal bass line under it anchoring the rhythm.

Trivia:

  • After work was finished on "Think For Yourself," the band used the rest of the session to record the band's third Christmas fan club record. Producer George Martin recorded the day's session in order to get some material for the disc, and while it wasn't used, 20 minutes or so of the studio chatter has turned up on bootlegs.
  • Tape of John, Paul, and George rehearsing the harmonies was also recorded during the session. Three years later, it was used in the movie Yellow Submarine, as the lads "warm up" in order to revive the Lord Mayor and save Pepperland through song.
  • A commonly misheard line in the song is "Although your mind's opaque / Try thinking more if just for your own sake." Some hear the word "opaque" as "okay." "Opaque" is defined by Webster's as "blocking the passage of radiant energy and especially light," which would be a concern for someone as spiritual as George!

Covered by: Fabrice

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