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 July 1964
Recorded 1 June 1964,
EMI Studios, London
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[2][3] 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.


According to musicologist Ian MacDonald Lennon created the song based on the chords of Del Shannon's "Runaway"[3] 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".[2]

With its poignant lyric and subdued acoustic-guitar riff, "I'll Be Back" possesses a typically minor-key melancholic air and is unusually structured (at least, for a pop song) in that it alternates between major and minor keys, is cast in mirrored-rondo form (a-b-a-c-a-b-a) as opposed to the more usual pop-song form of a-b-a-b-a (or even just a-b-a), and lacks a chorus. The fade-out ending also arrives unexpectedly, being a half stanza premature.[3] As much as any other Beatles song, "I'll Be Back" confronts us with the raw creativity of Lennon and McCartney (in this case, chiefly Lennon), disciplined and tempered by the classical training of the Fifth Beatle, their producer, George Martin.

George Martin preferred to open and close Beatles albums using the strongest 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".[4] 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".[3] 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".[5]


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.[6]

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[3]

MacDonald was unsure if Harrison sang a harmony vocal part.[3]

Cover versions[edit]



External links[edit]