I Will

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Album This song officially appears on the The Beatles (Mono) LP.
Timeline This song has been officially released in 1968
Timeline This song has been written (or started being written) in 1968 (Paul McCartney was 26 years old)

Master album


Related interviews


Pete Doherty meets Paul McCartney

Oct 14, 2007 • From The Observer


Paul recalls inspirations of LP

Nov 30, 1968 • From New Musical Express


Interview with Radio Luxembourg

Nov 21, 1968 • From Radio Luxembourg

Related articles


The Beatles in India

February 19 to March 26, 1968

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Song facts

I wrote quite a few songs in Rishikesh. I was doing a song, ‘I Will’, that I had as a melody for quite a long time. But, I didn’t have lyrics to it. I remember sitting around with Donovan, and may be a few others … And I played him this one and he liked it and we were trying to write some words. We kicked around a few lyrics … I kept searching for better words and I wrote my own set in the end, very simple words, straight love-song words, really. I think they’re quite effective.

Paul McCartney – From “The Beatles: Off the Record” by Keith Badman

From Wikipedia:

“I Will” is a song by the English rock band the Beatles, from their 1968 double album The Beatles (also known as “the White Album”). It was written by Paul McCartney (credited to Lennon–McCartney) and features him on lead vocal, guitar, and “vocal bass”.

Background

“I Will” was one of the songs composed by the Beatles and their associates while in Rishikesh, India. Although the music came together fairly easily, the words were worked on in India, and remained unfinished even as recording began back in London. McCartney recalled that while in Rishikesh he and Donovan had written a set of lyrics with a “moon” theme, but he found them inadequate and so replaced them with “very simple words, straight love-song words”. Donovan could not recall writing any of the early lyrics for the song but said that he possibly assisted McCartney with the “shape of the chords”, in keeping with the “descending movements” in his own melodies.

McCartney also commented on “I Will”: “It’s still one of my favourite melodies that I’ve written. You just occasionally get lucky with a melody and it becomes rather complete and I think this is one of them; quite a complete tune.”

Recording

Recording for “I Will” took place at EMI Studios in London on 16 September 1968, with McCartney completing overdubs the following day. The basic track required 67 takes. George Harrison was not present at the session.

During take 19, McCartney ad-libbed an untitled song. Referred to as “Can you take me back?”, a 28-second segment of this ended up on side four of The Beatles, at the end of “Cry Baby Cry“, as what author Ian MacDonald described as “a sinister introduction to ‘Revolution 9‘”.

In take 29, McCartney, as an ad-lib, sung “won’t” in place of “will” during the first verse before John Lennon replies, “Yes you will.” McCartney chuckles after this ad-lib and then the song ends at this point. This take was included in the expanded box set of The Beatles released in 2018.

Release and reception

Apple Records released The Beatles on 22 November 1968, with “I Will” sequenced as the penultimate track on side two, between “Why Don’t We Do It in the Road?” and “Julia“. In an interview for Radio Luxembourg to promote the release, McCartney emphasised the wide range of musical styles found on the double album. He said that “I Will” was a legacy of the Beatles having had to satisfy requests for styles such as rhumba during their pre-fame years in Hamburg.

Author Jonathan Gould identifies “I Will” as an effective “demure punchline” to the sexual suggestiveness of “Why Don’t We Do It in the Road?”, and similar in mood and form to McCartney’s 1966 song “Here, There and Everywhere“. He also views it as lacking in genuine emotion, however, due to the lyrics and musical arrangement, and concludes: “This is one of the few instances in which the restraint Paul typically brought to his ballad singing blanches into something that sounds like simple indifference. ‘Who knows how long I’ve loved you?’ he asks, and it’s tempting to think, ‘Who cares?'” Howard Sounes welcomes the diversification of McCartney’s non-rock White Album contributions such as “Martha My Dear” and “Honey Pie” but he says of “I Will”: “[It] exemplified Paul’s weakness for the soft-centred love song. The melody was catchy, but the lyric, about loving his beloved forever and ever, etc., was the sickliest cliché, a taste of what was to come.”

Coinciding with the 50th anniversary of its release, Jacob Stolworthy of The Independent listed “I Will” at number 12 in his ranking of the White Album’s 30 tracks. He called the song “crystalline proof that no one can write a love song as effortlessly as McCartney”, adding that McCartney’s selection of it among his personal favourites is a tough choice to argue with. The song was sung in the 1994 film Love Affair, starring Annette Bening and Warren Beatty. […]

Paul McCartney in "Many Years From Now", by Barry Miles:

I was doing a song, I Will, that I had as a melody for quite a long time but I didn’t have any lyrics to it. I remember sitting around with Donovan, and maybe a couple of other people. We were just sitting around one evening after our day of meditation and I played him this one and he liked it and we were trying to write some words. We kicked around a few lyrics, something about the moon, but they weren’t very satisfactory and I thought the melody was better than the words so I didn’t use them. I kept searching for better words and I wrote my own set in the end; very simple words, straight love-song words really. I think they’re quite effective. It’s still one of my favourite melodies that I’ve written. You just occasionally get lucky with a melody and it becomes rather complete and I think this is one of them; quite a complete tune.

We’ve always been a rock & roll group, I suppose, you know. It’s just that we’re not just completely rock & roll. That’s what I was trying to say before about ‘Obladi,’ ‘USSR,’ they’re all different kinds of things. We’re not just completely one kind of group. ‘Cuz like, when we played in Hamburg, we didn’t just do rock all evening ‘cuz we had to have these sort of fat old businessmen coming in and saying… (jokingly) or THIN old businessmen, as well, were coming in and saying ‘Play a mambo. Can you do a rhumba?’ And we couldn’t just keep saying no, you know, so we had to get into mambos and rhumbas a bit. So this kind of thing is like a pretty sort of smootchy ballad– ‘I Will.’ But we have to do that kind of stuff, you know, so we always played alot of kind of things. I don’t know if it’s getting off the subject, but that’s why there’s great variety in this LP– ‘cuz in everything we do, you know, we just haven’t got one bag, The Beatles, you know. And ‘cuz on one hand you’ll get something like ‘I Will’ and then you’ll get ‘Why Don’t We Do It In The Road,’ you know. Just completely different things– completely different feelings and… But it’s me singing both of them. It’s the same fella. Uhh, and I’ve wrote both of them, you know. So you can’t explain it. I don’t know why I do ‘Why Don’t We Do It In The Road’ shouting it like that… and then do this sort of smootchy laughing American ‘Girl From Ipenema.’

Paul McCartney – from interview with Radio Luxembourg, 1968

From The Usenet Guide to Beatles Recording Variations:

[a] mono 26 Sep 1968.
UK: Apple PMC 7067 white album 1968.

[b] stereo 14 Oct 1968.
UK: Apple PCS 7067 white album 1968.
US: Apple SWBO 101 white album 1968.
CD: EMI CDP 7 46443 2 white album 1987.

This started as 4 track and was copied to 8 track, so it’s 2d generation. The “bass” (vocal) starts later in mono [a], after the first verse.

Last updated on September 26, 2021

Lyrics

Who knows how long I've loved you
You know I love you still
Will I wait a lonely lifetime?
If you want me to, I will

And if I ever saw you
I didn't catch your name
But it never really mattered
I will always feel the same

Love you forever and forever
Love you with all my heart
Love you whenever we're together
Love you when we're apart

And when at last I find you
Your song will fill the air
Sing it loud so I can hear you
Make it easy to be near you
For the things you do endear you to me
Oh, you know I will

Love you forever and forever
Love you with all my heart
Love you whenever we're together
Love you when we're apart

And when at last I found you
Your song will fill the air
Sing it loud so I can hear you
Make it easy to be near you
All the things you do endear you to me
Oh, you know I will
Oh, you know I will
Oh, you know I will
Oh, you know I will

Variations


A Mono version • From "The Beatles (Mono)"

A2009 2009 mono remaster • From "The Beatles in Mono (2009)"


B Stereo version • From "The Beatles (Stereo)"


C Take 1 • From "Anthology 3"

C2016 Take 1. 2016 remaster • From "Anthology 3 (2016 remaster)"

D 2018 stereo mix • From "The Beatles (50th anniversary boxset)"


Officially appears on


The Beatles (Mono)

LP • Released in 1968

1:46 • Studio versionA • Mono

Paul McCartney :
'sung bass', Acoustic guitars, Backing vocal, Lead vocal
Ringo Starr :
Drums
John Lennon :
Maracas, Skulls
Chris Thomas :
Producer
Ken Scott :
Recording engineer

Session Recording:
Sep 16, 1968
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Overdubs:
Sep 17, 1968
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Mixing:
Sep 26, 1968
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road


The Beatles (Stereo)

LP • Released in 1968

1:46 • Studio versionB • Stereo

Paul McCartney :
'sung bass', Acoustic guitars, Backing vocal, Lead vocal
Ringo Starr :
Drums
John Lennon :
Maracas, Skulls
Chris Thomas :
Producer
Ken Scott :
Recording engineer

Session Recording:
Sep 16, 1968
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Overdubs:
Sep 17, 1968
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Mixing:
Oct 14, 1968
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road


Anthology 3

Official album • Released in 1996

1:55 • OuttakeC • Stereo • Take 1. From the same session as the Step Inside Love and Los Paranoias jams, this is Take 1 of I Will, in which Paul sang and played acoustic guitar while John and Ringo added a percussive accompaniment. Paul would have realised quite early on - if not beforehand, indeed - that this performance would not be the master (which turned out to be Take 67) but as a first run-through it captures all the essential ingredients.

Paul McCartney :
Acoustic guitars, Lead vocal
Ringo Starr :
Drums
John Lennon :
Maracas, Skulls
Chris Thomas :
Producer
Ken Scott :
Recording engineer

Session Recording:
Sep 16, 1968
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road


The Beatles (Mono - 2009 remaster)

Official album • Released in 2009

1:46 • Studio versionA2009 • Mono • 2009 mono remaster

Paul McCartney :
'sung bass', Acoustic guitars, Backing vocal, Lead vocal
Ringo Starr :
Drums
John Lennon :
Maracas, Skulls
Chris Thomas :
Producer
Ken Scott :
Recording engineer
Paul Hicks :
Remastering
Guy Massey :
Remastering
Sean Magee :
Remastering
Allan Rouse :
Project co-ordinator

Session Recording:
Sep 16, 1968
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Overdubs:
Sep 17, 1968
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Mixing:
Sep 26, 1968
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road


The Beatles (Stereo - 2009 remaster)

Official album • Released in 2009

1:46 • Studio versionB2009 • Stereo • 2009 stereo remaster

Paul McCartney :
'sung bass', Acoustic guitars, Backing vocal, Lead vocal
Ringo Starr :
Drums
John Lennon :
Maracas, Skulls
Chris Thomas :
Producer
Ken Scott :
Recording engineer
Guy Massey :
Remastering
Steve Rooke :
Remastering
Allan Rouse :
Project co-ordinator

Session Recording:
Sep 16, 1968
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Overdubs:
Sep 17, 1968
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Mixing:
Oct 14, 1968
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road


The Beatles (Mono - 2014 vinyl)

LP • Released in 2014

1:46 • Studio versionA2014 • Mono • 2014 remaster

Paul McCartney :
'sung bass', Acoustic guitars, Backing vocal, Lead vocal
Ringo Starr :
Drums
John Lennon :
Maracas, Skulls
Chris Thomas :
Producer
Ken Scott :
Recording engineer
Sean Magee :
Remastering
Steve Berkowitz :
Remastering

Session Recording:
Sep 16, 1968
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Overdubs:
Sep 17, 1968
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Mixing:
Sep 26, 1968
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road


Anthology 3 (2016 remaster)

Official album • Released in 2016

1:55 • OuttakeC2016 • Stereo • Take 1. From the same session as the Step Inside Love and Los Paranoias jams, this is Take 1 of I Will, in which Paul sang and played acoustic guitar while John and Ringo added a percussive accompaniment. Paul would have realised quite early on - if not beforehand, indeed - that this performance would not be the master (which turned out to be Take 67) but as a first run-through it captures all the essential ingredients.

Paul McCartney :
Acoustic guitars, Lead vocal
Ringo Starr :
Drums
John Lennon :
Maracas, Skulls
Chris Thomas :
Producer
Ken Scott :
Recording engineer

Session Recording:
Sep 16, 1968
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road


The Beatles (50th anniversary boxset)

Official album • Released in 2018

1:46 • Studio versionD • Stereo • 2018 stereo mix

Paul McCartney :
'sung bass', Acoustic guitars, Backing vocal, Lead vocal
Ringo Starr :
Drums
John Lennon :
Maracas, Skulls
Giles Martin :
Producer
Chris Thomas :
Producer
Ken Scott :
Recording engineer
Sam Okell :
Mixing engineer

Session Recording:
Sep 16, 1968
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Overdubs:
Sep 17, 1968
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Mixing:
First half of 2018 ?
Studio :
EMI Studios, Abbey Road


The Beatles (50th anniversary boxset)

Official album • Released in 2018

2:20 • OuttakeE • Take 13

Paul McCartney :
Acoustic guitars, Lead vocal
Ringo Starr :
Drums
John Lennon :
Maracas, Skulls
Giles Martin :
Mixing engineer, Producer

Session Recording:
Sep 16, 1968
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road


The Beatles (50th anniversary boxset)

Official album • Released in 2018

0:26 • OuttakeF • Take 29

Paul McCartney :
Acoustic guitars, Lead vocal
Ringo Starr :
Drums
John Lennon :
Maracas, Skulls
Giles Martin :
Mixing engineer, Producer

Session Recording:
Sep 16, 1968
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Bootlegs




Live In Iowa 2005

Unofficial live

4:25 • Live

Concert From the concert in Des Moines, USA on Oct 27, 2005


Meet The Threetles

Unofficial album

0:29 • Demo

Session Recording:
Jun 23, 1994
Studio :
Friar Park Studio, Henley-on-Thames, UK


Yellow Submarine Sessions

Unofficial album

1:47 • Outtake • RS From Take 68 Stereo


Live performances

“I Will” has been played in 42 concerts and 1 soundchecks.

Latest concerts where I Will has been played







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