The Paul McCartney Project

I'll Be Back

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Album This song officially appears on the A Hard Day's Night (Mono) Official album.
Timeline This song has been officially released in 1964

Related sessions

This song has been recorded during the following studio sessions




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Song facts

From Wikipedia:

I’ll Be Back” is primarily a John Lennon composition credited to Lennon–McCartney, and recorded by the Beatles for the soundtrack LP to their film A Hard Day’s Night but not used in the film. This song was not released in North America until Beatles ’65 some five months later.

Structure

According to musicologist Ian MacDonald, Lennon created the song based on the chords of Del Shannon’s “Runaway” which had been a UK hit in April 1961. Author Bill Harry also wrote: “He just reworked the chords of the Shannon number and came up with a completely different song“.

With its poignant lyric and flamenco style acoustic guitars “I’ll Be Back” possesses a tragic air and is somewhat eccentric in structure. Unusually for a pop song it oscillates between major and minor keys; appears to have two different bridges and lacks a chorus. The fade-out ending also arrives unexpectedly, being a half stanza premature.

Producer George Martin preferred to open and close Beatles albums using dominant material stating: “Another principle of mine when assembling an album was always to go out on a side strongly, placing the weaker material towards the end but then going out with a bang“. Ian MacDonald points out however: “Fading away in tonal ambiguity at the end of A Hard Day’s Night, it was a surprisingly downbeat farewell and a token of coming maturity“. Music journalist Robert Sandall wrote in Mojo Magazine: “‘I’ll Be Back’ was the early Beatles at their most prophetic. This grasp of how to colour arrangements in darker or more muted tones foreshadowed an inner journey they eventually undertook in three albums’ time, on Rubber Soul“.

Recording

The Beatles recorded “I’ll Be Back” in 16 takes on 1 June 1964. The first nine were of the rhythm track, and the last seven were overdubs of the lead and harmony vocals, and a guitar overdub by Paul McCartney.

The Anthology 1 CD includes take two of “I’ll Be Back“, performed in 6/8 time. The recording broke down when Lennon fumbled over the words in the bridge, complaining on the take that “it’s too hard to sing.” The subsequent take, also included on Anthology, was performed in the 4/4 time used in the final take. […]

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

I’ll Be Back was co-written but it was largely John’s idea. When we knew we were writing for something like an album he would write a few in his spare moments, like this batch here. He’d bring them in, we’d check ’em. I’d write a couple and we’d throw ’em at each other, and then there would be a couple that were more co-written. But you just had a certain amount of time. You knew when the recording date was and so a week or two before then we’d get into it.

From The Usenet Guide to Beatles Recording Variations:

  • [a] mono 22 Jun 1964.
    UK: Parlophone PMC 1230 Hard Day’s Night 1964.
    CD: EMI CDP 7 46437 2 Hard Day’s Night 1987.
  • [b] mono 22 Jun 1964.
    US: Capitol T 2228 Beatles ’65 1964.
  • [c] stereo 22 Jun 1964.
    UK: Parlophone PCS 3058 Hard Day’s Night 1964.
    US: Capitol ST 2228 Beatles ’65 1964.

US mono [b] runs slower than [a] and actually wobbles at a few points [b] also has a little echo while [a] has none. Capitol’s stereo version has an unusually large amount of added echo even for them. Late in the LP era (black label) a new master was made for Capitol with a version sounding like the UK version.

Last updated on March 6, 2016

Lyrics

You know, if you break my heart I'll go
But I'll be back again
'Cause I told you once before goodbye
But I came back again

I love you so, oh
I'm the one who wants you
Yes I'm the one who wants you
Oh, ho, oh, ho, oh

You could find better things to do
Than to break my heart again
This time I will try to show that I'm
Not trying to pretend

I thought that you would realize
That if I run away from you
That you would want me to
But I got a big surprise
Oh, ho, oh, ho, oh

You could find better things to do
Than to break my heart again
This time I will try to show that I'm
Not trying to pretend

I want to go,
But I hate to leave you
You know I hate to leave you
Oh, ho, oh, ho

You, if you break my heart I'll go
But I'll be back again

Officially appears on


A Hard Day's Night (Mono)

Official album • Released in 1964

2:22 • Studio versionA • Mono

Paul McCartney :
Bass, Harmony vocals
Ringo Starr :
Drums
John Lennon :
Acoustic rhythm guitar, Lead vocals
George Harrison :
Harmony vocals, Lead acoustic guitar
George Martin :
Producer
Norman Smith :
Recording engineer

Session Recording:
Jun 01, 1964
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Mixing:
Jun 22, 1964
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio One, Abbey Road


Beatles '65 (Mono)

Official album • Released in 1964

2:22 • Studio versionB • Mono

Paul McCartney :
Bass, Harmony vocals
Ringo Starr :
Drums
John Lennon :
Acoustic rhythm guitar, Lead vocals
George Harrison :
Harmony vocals, Lead acoustic guitar
George Martin :
Producer
Norman Smith :
Recording engineer

Session Recording:
Jun 01, 1964
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Mixing:
Jun 22, 1964
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio One, Abbey Road


A Hard Day's Night (Stereo)

Official album • Released in 1964

2:22 • Studio versionC • Stereo

Paul McCartney :
Bass, Harmony vocals
Ringo Starr :
Drums
John Lennon :
Acoustic rhythm guitar, Lead vocals
George Harrison :
Harmony vocals, Lead acoustic guitar
George Martin :
Producer
Norman Smith :
Recording engineer

Session Recording:
Jun 01, 1964
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Mixing:
Jun 22, 1964
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio One, Abbey Road


Beatles '65 (Stereo)

Official album • Released in 1964

2:22 • Studio versionC • Stereo

Paul McCartney :
Bass, Harmony vocals
Ringo Starr :
Drums
John Lennon :
Acoustic rhythm guitar, Lead vocals
George Harrison :
Harmony vocals, Lead acoustic guitar
George Martin :
Producer
Norman Smith :
Recording engineer

Session Recording:
Jun 01, 1964
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Mixing:
Jun 22, 1964
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio One, Abbey Road


Anthology 1

Official album • Released in 1995

1:13 • OuttakeD • Take 2. I'll Be Back was recorded from start to finish in a single session. Take 16 was released but the unissued takes Two and Three are presented here. The former illuminates how John conceived his song as a waltz (the Beatles' fondness for waltz arrangement dated back to Cavern Club performances of James Ray's If You Gotta Make A Fool Of Somebody). Take 2 broke down, however, because, to use John's own words, it was "too hard to sing", and it is segued here into Take 3 [...]

George Martin :
Producer
Norman Smith :
Recording engineer

Session Recording:
Jun 01, 1964
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road


Anthology 1

Official album • Released in 1995

1:58 • OuttakeE • Take 3. [...] Take 3 in which the arrangement has been altered from 3/4 to the 4/4 tempo approaching the master version - proof of the speed with which the Beatles could switch their ideas.

George Martin :
Producer
Norman Smith :
Recording engineer

Session Recording:
Jun 01, 1964
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Bootlegs


A Hard Day's Night - Studio Sessions - Back To Basics

Unofficial album • Released in 2011

1:14 • Alternate take • (Take 2) (Mono) Anthology 1

Session Recording:
Jun 01, 1964
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road


A Hard Day's Night - Studio Sessions - Back To Basics

Unofficial album • Released in 2011

1:58 • Alternate take • (Take 3) (Stereo) Anthology 1

Session Recording:
Jun 01, 1964
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road


A Hard Day's Night - Studio Sessions - Back To Basics

Unofficial album • Released in 2011

1:13 • Alternate take • (Take 2) (Stereo) Anthology Dvd Mix

Session Recording:
Jun 01, 1964
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road


A Hard Day's Night - Studio Sessions - Back To Basics

Unofficial album • Released in 2011

1:19 • Alternate take • (Take 3) (Stereo) Anthology Dvd Mix

Session Recording:
Jun 01, 1964
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road


A Hard Day's Night - Studio Sessions - Back To Basics

Unofficial album • Released in 2011

0:12 • Alternate take • Take 12) (Stereo

Session Recording:
Jun 01, 1964
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road


Live performances

Paul McCartney has never played this song in concert.


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