If I Needed Someone

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"If I Needed Someone"
Song by the Beatles from the album Rubber Soul
Published Northern Songs
Released 3 December 1965
Recorded 16 October 1965,
EMI Studios, London
Length 2:23
Label Parlophone
Writer(s) George Harrison
Producer(s) George Martin
"If I Needed Someone"
Single by The Hollies
B-side "I've Got a Way of My Own"
Released 3 December 1965
Format 7" single
Recorded 17 November 1965
EMI Studios
Genre Folk rock, pop rock
Length 2:19
Label Parlophone
Writer(s) George Harrison
The Hollies singles chronology
"Look Through Any Window"
"If I Needed Someone"
"I Can't Let Go"

"If I Needed Someone" is a song written by George Harrison. Versions by the Beatles and by the Hollies appeared simultaneously, both being released in the United Kingdom on 3 December 1965. The Hollies version appeared on a single. Most of the Hollies' previous singles had been big top ten hits. When their version of "If I Needed Someone" only reached the lower half of the top 20 in the UK, they were quite critical and said they had made a mistake recording it.[citation needed] The Beatles' recording of the song first appeared in the UK on the 1965 album Rubber Soul and was later included in the 1966 North American release, Yesterday and Today.


The song was heavily influenced by the music of the Byrds, and like most of the songs on Rubber Soul, utilizes a folk rock structure.[1] In a 2004 radio interview with the BBC in London,[3] Roger McGuinn confirmed that Harrison had sent a tape recording of the song to him in Los Angeles before it was released on record. Harrison did this to show McGuinn that the guitar riff he had used in "If I Needed Someone" was based on McGuinn's own riff in "The Bells of Rhymney", with the drumming from "She Don't Care About Time"."[4][5] "George was very open about it," said McGuinn, who was then going by his given name, Jim. "He sent [the record] to us in advance and said, 'This is for Jim' — because of that lick."[6]

"If I Needed Someone" was the only Harrison composition played during any of the Beatles' tours; otherwise Harrison sang only covers onstage. Hence, it is the first and only song written by Harrison performed by him in concert until the group disbanded in 1970. "If I Needed Someone" is one of only two tracks from Rubber Soul that the Beatles performed live (the other was "Nowhere Man").[7] It was included on the Beatles final UK tour in December 1965,[8] the 1966 NME Poll-Winners All-Star Concert,[9] and on the 1966 Summer World Tour,[10] including the Beatles' very last concert, in Candlestick Park on 29 August 1966. The 1982 documentary The Compleat Beatles used a clip from the Beatles' haggard performance of the song on stage in Tokyo as an illustration of band's growing weariness with touring.

Musical structure[edit]

The song as recorded by the Beatles is in the key of A mixolydian, switching to B minor (the ii chord when the tonic is A) during the breaks. The verse beginning "If I needed someone to love" ends (on "I'd be thinking of") with a B melody note complementing a ♭VII triad over a I root (G/A) 'slash' polychord (like that used at the opening of A Hard Day's Night (song)).[11] The song's lyrical theme of "right person at the wrong time" is cleverly mirrored in the music by features such as the entire melody being phrased on the off beat and by McCartney's 'drastically arpeggiated' bass line.[12] Harrison gets to the Bm via an Em on "Had you come" this representing a V minor in the tonic of A and a IV minor in the new Bm key. Harrison's switch to the V minor (Em) here is not as could be expected a "precursor to a key centre on IV but an inspired alternative that demonstrates his innate vision of the structure of any key."[13] The verses are heavily harmonised: Harrison sings the first two lines of the first verse by himself — double-tracked, as was customary on Beatles recordings of the period — after which John Lennon and Paul McCartney join in, singing above him throughout on each subsequent verse. Harrison sings the bridge solo, once again double-tracked. In the chorus 'ahhs" Paul sings a third above and John a tenth below Harrison's lead vocal.[12]


The sessions for the Beatles version of "If I Needed Someone" were produced by George Martin, and engineered by Norman Smith. The second engineer was Ken Scott.[14]

The rhythm track for the song was recorded in Abbey Road Studio Two, in a single take on Saturday 16 October 1965, squeezed in just before midnight in a session that had primarily been spent recording their next single, Day Tripper.[14] McCartney's bass part was played on a 1964 left-handed Rickenbacker 4001S bass. Harrison's distinctive chiming guitar riff was played on his 1965 Rickenbacker 360-12, with a capo fixed at the seventh fret.[15]

Returning to the studio on the afternoon of Monday 18 October 1965, the Beatles overdubbed Harrison's lead vocal and Lennon and McCartney's backing vocals. Starr added a tambourine.[14]

A mono mix of the song was made on Monday 25 October, and a stereo mix on Tuesday, 26 October — the day the Beatles collected their MBEs from Buckingham Palace.[16] Both these mixes can be found in The Beatles In Mono box set. [17]

George Martin created another stereo mix in 1987 for the release of Rubber Soul on CD.[18] This mix can be found on The Beatles Stereo Box Set.


Personnel per Ian MacDonald[19]

Hollies version[edit]

Within a month of "If I Needed Someone" being recorded by the Beatles in October 1965 at Abbey Road, The Hollies' were brought a demo of the song by their producer Ron Richards, who had been offered the demo by George Martin. They recorded their version in three takes on 17 November 1965 in the same studio as the Beatles, and it was released by Parlophone on 3 December 1965, the same day as Rubber Soul. The single was later released by Imperial Records in the United States in November 1967, after The Hollies had switched their US distribution to Epic Records.[20]

"If I Needed Someone" was the first George Harrison composition to be a UK chart hit, as a result of the Hollies' cover. Their version reached No. 20 on 9 December 1965, but by their standards it was one of their least successful singles. Many in the public perceived the song as the Hollies attempting to ride on the Beatles' coattails. Dismissive comments about the Hollies' track by Harrison, basically calling it "rubbish" in an interview with NME magazine, effectively stalled its run on the charts and led to angry exchanges between the groups.[21]

Other versions[edit]


  1. ^ a b Unterberger, Richie (2009). "If I Needed Someone". Allmusic. Retrieved 19 October 2013. 
  2. ^ Terence J. O'Grady (1 May 1983). The Beatles, a musical evolution. Twayne. p. 94. ISBN 978-0-8057-9453-3. 
  3. ^ The Drivetime Show presented by Stuart Maconie, BBC Radio 2, 7 June 2004
  4. ^ Rogan 1998, p. 223.
  5. ^ Rogan 1998, p. 142.
  6. ^ "51 - 'If I Needed Someone'". 100 Greatest Beatles Songs. Rolling Stone. Retrieved 20 June 2012. 
  7. ^ Lewisohn 1996, pp. 363-364.
  8. ^ Lewisohn 1996, p. 209.
  9. ^ Lewisohn 1996, p. 220.
  10. ^ Lewisohn 1996, pp. 226-230.
  11. ^ Dominic Pedler. The Songwriting Secrets of the Beatles. Music Sales Limited. Omnibus Press. NY. 2003. pp259-260
  12. ^ a b Jonathan Gould. Can't Buy Me Love. The Beatles, Britain and America, Piatkus 2007 p305
  13. ^ Dominic Pedler. The Songwriting Secrets of the Beatles. Music Sales Limited. Omnibus Press. NY. 2003. p370
  14. ^ a b c Lewisohn 1988, p. 64.
  15. ^ Babiuk 2002, pp. 168-172.
  16. ^ Lewisohn 1988, p. 66.
  17. ^ Howlett 2009, pp. 2-3.
  18. ^ Rouse & Howlett 2009, p. 12.
  19. ^ MacDonald 2005, p. 168.
  20. ^ The 30th Anniversary Collection (CD). The Hollies. EMI Records. 1993. D 202205. 
  21. ^ Harry, Bill (2000). The Beatles Encyclopedia. Virgin Books. ISBN 978-0-7535-0481-9. 


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