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If I Fell

The history of this classic Beatles song


The original US 45 sleeve for

The original US 45 sleeve for "If I Fell"

source: fab4collectibles.com

If I Fell

Written by: John Lennon (100%) (credited as Lennon-McCartney)
Recorded: February 27, 1964 (Studio 2, Abbey Road Studios, London, England)
Mixed: March 3, 1964; June 22, 1964
Length: 2:19
Takes: 15
Musicians: John Lennon: lead vocals, acoustic rhythm guitar (Gibson J160E)
Paul McCartney: harmony vocals, bass guitar (1961 Hofner 500/1)
George Harrison: lead guitar (Rickenbacker 360-12 "Fire-glo")
Ringo Starr: drums (Ludwig)
First released: July 20, 1964 (US: Capitol 5235; b-side to "And I Love Her")
Available on: (CDs in bold)
  • A Hard Day's Night, (UK: Parlophone PMC 1230, PCS 3058, Parlophone CDP7 46437 2, US: United Artists UAL 3366, UAS 6366, Capitol CLJ 46435)
  • Something New, (US: Capitol (S)T 2108, CDP 7243 8 66876 2 3)
  • Extracts From The Film A Hard Day's Night (EP), (UK: Parlophone GEP 8920)
  • Love Songs, (UK: Parlophone PCSP 721, US: Capitol SKBL 11711)
  • Written by John on January 13, 1964, this is a standard ballad -- his first real ballad, according to the writer, and while not specifically about his wife, Cynthia, it has been seen by Lennon in retrospect as indicating some of his ambivalence about romance at the time.
  • The structure of the song is unique among Beatles tunes of the time, and of pop music in general, in that it opens with an intro that contains no musical elements found in the rest of the song.
  • Though this is thought of as John's song, and written exclusively by him, he sings the lead only on the intro, with no double-tracking; for the body of the song, Paul is actually singing a higher "lead" patterns while John sings harmony. Both sang into the same microphone at once to achieve this effect, a decision arrived at during recording.
  • John has further indicated that the chord patterns of the later "In My Life" are similar to this song, although that has more to do with the use of dramatic minors in relation to majors than any direct similarity.
  • The body of this song has no verse/chorus structure to speak of, just two verses that each turn halfway through on an unexpected chord, making it seem as if a bridge has appeared.
Live versions: July 19, 1964 (Blackpool Night Out, ABC Theatre, Blackpool, England), August 21, 1964 (Seattle Coliseum, Seattle, WA), August 22, 1964 (Empire Stadium, Vancouver, BC), August 23, 1964 (Hollywood Bowl, Los Angeles, CA), September 2, 1964 (Convention Hall, Philadelphia, PA), September 3, 1964 (State Fair Coliseum, Indianapolis, IN), September 18, 1964 (Dallas Memorial Auditorium, Dallas, TX)
BBC radio versions: 2 (for the BBC radio programs Top Gear and From Us To You)
  • The stereo mix of this song (featured originally on the UK A Hard Day's Night LP and US Something New LP) featured a doubletracked opening by John. Additionally, Paul's voice cracks on the second verse, at the very end of the line "would be sad if our new love was in vain." Some have suggested that the mono mixdown fixes this by substituting the first "vain" for the second; others feel that this was accidentally mixed from the wrong take, though the rest of the vocal track appears identical.
  • During the 1964 tour, Paul introduced this song and John added the word "over" to the title, forcing a giggle fit.
  • This was supposedly Kurt Cobain's favorite Beatles song, and was played by Nirvana in concert whenever technical problems arose.
Covered by: Chet Atkins, Adrian Belew, Lou Christie, Sonny Curtis, Herman's Hermits, Sammy Kershaw, Rita Lee, Maroon 5, Reba McEntire, R. Stevie Moore, Peter and Gordon, Gabor Szabo
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