Think for Yourself

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"Think for Yourself"
Song by The Beatles from the album Rubber Soul
Released 3 December 1965 (mono and stereo)
Recorded 8 November 1965,
EMI Studios, London
Genre Rock
Length 2:18
Label Parlophone
Writer(s) George Harrison
Producer(s) George Martin

"Think for Yourself" is a song by English rock band The Beatles, and written by George Harrison who sings and plays guitar on the track. First appearing on their 1965 album Rubber Soul, it is a warning against listening to lies,[1] and the first of Harrison's songs not to be a love song. In a departure from all precedent at the time, the song has two bass lines, a normal one and one created by Paul McCartney's then-unique application of a fuzzbox to his bass.[2] A brief repeated clip of the song was featured in The Beatles 1968 animated movie Yellow Submarine and was reissued for the 1999 Yellow Submarine Songtrack album.


In Harrison's book I, Me, Mine he writes, "But all this time later, I don't quite recall who inspired that tune. Probably the government."[1] As the song was recorded about six weeks after Pete Best's libel suit against Ringo, the Beatles, and Playboy magazine was filed, and contains such lyrics as "you're telling all those lies about the good things that we can have if we close our eyes," "I left you far behind, the ruins of the life that you have in mind" and "I know your mind's made up, you're gonna cause more misery," some have speculated that it might be about Best -- which Harrison likely would have been reluctant to ever admit.[3]

Musical structure[edit]

The song is in the key of G major, but its musical premise appears to be permanent tonic key ambiguity and restless root movement (musically echoing the title) through extensive borrowing from the parallel G minor.[4] Thus, the G7 introduction appears to ground us in G major (G Mixolydian); yet the verse soon opens ("I've got a word or two") with a ii chord (Am) that suggests we are in A Dorian mode or even A Aeolian mode with the following move to a Dm chord on "word or two" being a iv rather than a v in G major. The immediate shift to B♭ chord (♭III in G major) on "to say" and the C chord (IV in G major) on "about the things" again confuses as the Bb and C chords seem to hint at a ♭Vi- ♭VII rock run in D Aeolian.[5] When we arrive at the chorus ("Think for yourself...") the anticipated tonic-identifying V-I (D7 chord-G7 chord) shift, is preceded (pointedly on "Think") with a strange ♭VI (E♭/B♭) chord in second inversion that undermines its tonal direction.[5] This overlapping of major and minor harmony and restless root movement is an intriguing characteristic of Harrison's songwriting as far back as "Don't Bother Me".[6]


Personnel per Ian MacDonald[7]

Cover versions[edit]

Yonder Mountain String Band covered the track for This Bird Has Flown – A 40th Anniversary Tribute to the Beatles' Rubber Soul in 2005.

When Mojo released the CD Yellow Submarine Resurfaces in 2012, the track was covered by Pete Shelley.[8]


  1. ^ a b Turner 2005, p. 92.
  2. ^ Shea & Rodriguez 2010.
  3. ^ Curley 2005, p. 248.
  4. ^ Dominic Pedler. The Songwriting Secrets of the Beatles. Music Sales Limited. Omnibus Press. NY. 2003. p663
  5. ^ a b Dominic Pedler. The Songwriting Secrets of the Beatles. Music Sales Limited. Omnibus Press. NY. 2003. p664
  6. ^ Dominic Pedler. The Songwriting Secrets of the Beatles. Music Sales Limited. Omnibus Press. NY. 2003. p665
  7. ^ MacDonald 2005, p. 178.
  8. ^


  • Curley, Mallory (2005). Beatle Pete, Time Traveller. Randy Press. 
  • MacDonald, Ian (2005). Revolution in the Head: The Beatles' Records and the Sixties (Second Revised ed.). London: Pimlico (Rand). ISBN 1-84413-828-3. 
  • Shea, Stuart; Rodriguez, Robert (2010). Fab Four FAQ: Everything Left to Know About the Beatles…and More!. 
  • Turner, Steve (2005). A Hard Day's Write: The Stories Behind Every Beatles Song (3rd ed.). New York: Harper Paperbacks. ISBN 0-06-084409-4. 

External links[edit]