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I'll Be Back

The history of this classic Beatles song

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I'll Be Back

Written by: John Lennon (100%)
(credited as Lennon-McCartney)
Recorded: June 1, 1964 (Studio 2, Abbey Road Studios, London, England)
Mixed: June 10 and 22, 1964
Length: 2:22
Takes: 16
Musicians:
John Lennon: lead vocal, acoustic rhythm guitar (1964 Gibson J160E)
Paul McCartney: harmony vocal (double-tracked), bass guitar (1961 Hofner 500/1), cowbell
George Harrison: lead acoustic guitar (1950 Jose Ramirez classical)
Ringo Starr: drums (Ludwig)
Available on: (CDs in bold)
  • A Hard Day's Night, (UK: Parlophone PMC 1230, PCS 3058, Parlophone CDP7 46437 2)
  • Something New, (US: Capitol (S)T 2108, Capitol CDP 7243 8 66876 2 3)
History:
  • The last song on the original UK A Hard Day's Night album was modeled by John after Del Shannon's "Runaway," a massive hit in 1961 and an extremely exotic chord sequence for the time. Del's song uses A minor, G, F, and E, but Lennon's song adds a C chord after the A minor. The tension between the home key (a minor, unusual for pop) and the relative major drives both songs.
  • As the Anthology outtakes prove, John first tried arranging this song in 6/8 time as a waltz, then in its current 4/4 incarnation but with electric instruments. The move to acoustic is a clear signpost pointing to their imminent "middle period" of folkier, more moody tunes.
  • This song contains one of the more unusual structures in any Beatles song, featuring two-and-one-half verses, no chorus, and two distinctly different bridges.
Covered by: The Buckinghams, Bounty Killer, Shawn Colvin, Firefall, Golden Earring, Wes Montgomery, R. Stevie Moore, Roger Nichols, Cliff Richard, Joshua Rifkin, Johnny Rivers, Curtis Salgado
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