I'll Be Back (song)

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This article is about the Beatles' song. For other songs of this name, see I'll Be Back (disambiguation).
"I'll Be Back"
Song by the Beatles from the album A Hard Day's Night
Released 10 June 1964 (mono)
10 July 1964 (stereo)
Recorded 1 June 1964,
EMI Studios, London
Genre Rock
Length 2:20
Label Apple Records
Writer Lennon–McCartney
Producer George Martin
A Hard Day's Night track listing

"I'll Be Back" is primarily a John Lennon composition[1][2] credited to Lennon–McCartney, and recorded by the Beatles for the soundtrack LP to their film A Hard Day's Night. This song was not released in North America until Beatles '65 some five months on.


According to music critic Ian MacDonald, John Lennon created the song based on the chords of Del Shannon's "Runaway"[2] which had been a UK hit in April 1961. Author Bill Harry wrote: "He [Lennon] just reworked the chords of the Shannon number and came up with a completely different song".[1]

With its poignant lyric and flamenco style acoustic guitars, "I'll Be Back" possesses a tragic air. Unusually for a pop song it oscillates between major and minor keys, appears to have two different bridges and completely lacks a chorus. The fade-out ending is unexpectedly sudden, seeming to arrive half a verse prematurely.[2]

Producer George Martin preferred to open and close Beatles albums (and sides) using dominant material. He wrote: "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".[3] With this in mind, "I'll Be Back", with its subdued perspective, could be considered an unexpected choice as the album closer. Author Ian MacDonald pointed out: "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".[2] 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".[4]


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.[5]

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.


Personnel per Ian MacDonald[2]

MacDonald was unsure if Harrison sang a harmony vocal part.[2]

Cover versions[edit]


  1. ^ a b Harry 2000, pp. 542–543.
  2. ^ a b c d e f MacDonald 2005, p. 119.
  3. ^ Martin, p. 149.
  4. ^ Mojo 2002, p. 113.
  5. ^ The Beatles Bible 2008.
  6. ^ "New Music: Elliott Smith – ‘I’ll Be Back’ (Beatles Cover)". Rawkblog. 14 February 2009. Retrieved 21 August 2011. 


External links[edit]