I Should Have Known Better
|"I Should Have Known Better"|
|Single by the Beatles|
|A-side||"A Hard Day's Night"|
|Released||13 July 1964|
|Format||vinyl record (7")|
25–26 February 1964,|
EMI Studios, London
|The Beatles US singles chronology|
|The Beatles UK singles chronology|
"I Should Have Known Better" is a song by English rock band the Beatles composed by John Lennon (credited to Lennon–McCartney), and originally issued on A Hard Day's Night, their soundtrack for the film of the same name released on 10 July 1964. I Should Have Known Better was also issued as the B-side of the US single A Hard Day's Night released on 13 July. An orchestrated version of the song conducted by George Martin appears on the North American version of the album, A Hard Day's Night Original Motion Picture Soundtrack.
In January 1964, during a three-week engagement at the Olympia Theatre in Paris, the Beatles first became aware of American singer and songwriter Bob Dylan, and after acquiring a copy of his album The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan, they began playing it continuously. American journalist Al Aronowitz introduced them to Dylan when the Beatles visited New York City in February 1964, and Dylan subsequently became a big influence on the group, especially Lennon, who even started wearing a copycat Huckleberry Finn cap. One consequence of this “infatuation” (as Ian MacDonald later described it) was the song "I Should Have Known Better". Paul McCartney said Dylan's songs were "great lyrically", and Lennon credited Dylan with inspiring him to write more meaningful lyrics.
The first recording session for the song was on 25 February 1964 at Abbey Road Studios when three takes were attempted, but only one was complete. Take 2 was aborted when Lennon broke into hysterics over his harmonica playing. The song was re-recorded the next day after making some changes to the arrangement.
Lennon's harmonica playing opens the track, the last occasion the Beatles were to feature this instrument on an intro ("I'm a Loser", recorded 14 August 1964 has a harmonica solo) and thus draws a line under a significant period of their early music. The song's middle sixteen section features George Harrison's brand new Rickenbacker 360/12 12-string guitar.
The mono and stereo versions have slightly different harmonica introductions. In the stereo version, the harmonica drops out briefly. Also, a noticeably clumsy and audible tape edit is heard during the second chorus between "You're gonna say you love me too, oh," and "And when I ask you to be mine."
In the UK, "I Should Have Known Better" appeared on A Hard Day's Night and was released on 10 July 1964. It was not released as a single at that time. In 1976, it was released as a B-side to "Yesterday".
As part of the film contract, United Artists acquired album rights for the American market. The company released a soundtrack album on 26 June 1964 with eight Beatles songs and four instrumentals. "I Should Have Known Better" was performed in the film, and it appears on the soundtrack. Capitol Records released Something New a month later with songs from the UK version of A Hard Day's Night that were not used in the film. The songs were also later released by Capitol on the Hey Jude compilation album in 1970.
"I Should Have Known Better" was released as a single in a number of continental European countries, including Norway, where it reached number 1, and West Germany, where it reached number 6. In Sweden, the song topped the Kvällstoppen Chart for four weeks.
- John Lennon – double-tracked vocal, acoustic rhythm guitar, harmonica
- Paul McCartney – bass
- George Harrison – twelve-string lead guitar
- Ringo Starr – drums
The song is performed in the train compartment scene of A Hard Day's Night. It was in fact filmed in a van, with crew members rocking the vehicle to fake the action of a train in motion. Paul McCartney is seen lip-syncing in the song in both the train scene and in the live performance at the end of the film, despite not singing in the actual recording.
- The Naturals covered it in August 1964 on the Beatles record label (Parlophone) and had a minor hit (UK number 24).
- Johnny Rivers covered it on his 1964 live album In Action.
- Jan & Dean released the song on their 1965 album Command Performance.
- The Beach Boys covered it on their 1965 album Beach Boys' Party!
- The Skatalites recorded an instrumental version under the name "Independent Anniversary Ska" in 1966.
- Brinsley Schwarz released a cover under the name "Limelight" in 1975.
- Stars on 45 covered it as part of an eight-song Beatles medley in their hit "Stars on 45", which reached No. 1 on the US Billboard Hot 100 in June 1981.
- She & Him covered the song on their 2008 debut album Volume One, as a duet with both M. Ward and Zooey Deschanel singing.
- The Punkles did a punk cover of this song on their first album.
- Phil Ochs covered the song with Eric Andersen during a Greenwich Village concert in 1964; the live version can be heard on The Broadside Tapes 1.
- Ramiele Malubay performed the song on the Top 11 week of the seventh season of American Idol. A studio version of Malubay's performance was released as a single on the iTunes Store in March 2008.
- Sheff 2000, p. 194.
- Miles 1997, p. 164.
- The Beatles 2000, p. 112.
- Harry 2000, pp. 357–359.
- MacDonald 2005, p. 109–110.
- Miles 1997, p. 195.
- Sheff 2000, p. 179.
- Lewisohn 1988, pp. 39–40.
- Cross 2005, p. 384.
- Cross 2005, p. 592.
- Lewisohn 1988, p. 200.
- Cross 2005, pp. 530–531.
- Lewisohn 1988, p. 201.
- Harry 2000, pp. 483–484.
- Lewisohn 1988.
- MUSIKKEXTRA 2009.
- Inifity Charts 2009.
- "Swedish Charts 1962–March 1966/Kvällstoppen – Listresultaten vecka för vecka > November 1964" (PDF) (in Swedish). hitsallertijden.nl. Retrieved 27 June 2018.
- Dowlding 1989, p. 68.
- "Phil Ochs - I Should Have Known Better - Village Gate 1964". YouTube. October 11, 2011. Retrieved 22 February 2017.
- The Beatles (2000). The Beatles Anthology. London: Cassell& Co. ISBN 0-304-35605-0.
- Cross, Craig (2005). The Beatles: Day-by-Day, Song-by-Song, Record-by-Record. Lincoln, NE: iUniverse, Inc. ISBN 0-595-34663-4.
- Dowlding, William (1989). Beatlesongs.
- "German Top 20 - The Chart of 1964". Inifity Charts. 2009. Retrieved 9 December 2009.
- Harry, Bill (2000). The Beatles Encyclopedia: Revised and Updated. London: Virgin Publishing. ISBN 0-7535-0481-2.
- Lewisohn, Mark (1988). The Beatles Recording Sessions. New York: Harmony Books. ISBN 0-517-57066-1.
- MacDonald, Ian (2005). Revolution in the Head: The Beatles' Records and the Sixties (Second Revised ed.). London: Pimlico (Rand). ISBN 1-84413-828-3.
- Miles, Barry (1997). Paul McCartney: Many Years From Now. New York: Henry Holt & Company. ISBN 0-8050-5249-6.
- Sheff, David (2000). All We Are Saying: The Last Major Interview with John Lennon and Yoko Ono. New York: St. Martin's Press. ISBN 0-312-25464-4.
- "Topp 20 Single uke 42, 1964". MUSIKKEXTRA. 2009. Retrieved 9 December 2009.
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