Saturday, March 12, 2011

"I Should Have Known Better"

"I Should Have Known Better" is a song composed by John Lennon (credited to Lennon/McCartney), and originally released by The Beatles on the UK version of A Hard Day's Night, their soundtrack for the film of the same name.

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.

An orchestrated version of the song conducted by George Martin appears on the B-side of the U.S. version of the album.


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, when having acquired a copy of his album Freewheelin' Bob Dylan, began playing it continuously. American journalist Al Aronowitz introduced them to Dylan when The Beatles visited New York 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 middle eight between "You're gonna say you love me, too" and "And when I ask you to be mine."


United Kingdom

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."

United States

In the U.S., "I Should Have Known Better" was released on 13 July 1964 as the B-side to "A Hard Day's Night." As part of the movie contract, United Artists acquired album rights for the American market. They 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 and other material. "I Should Have Known Better" did not appear on a Capitol album until five years later on the Hey Jude compilation album.

Continental Europe

"I Should Have Known Better" was released as a single in a number of continental European countries, including West Germany, where it reached Number 6, and Norway, where it reached Number 1.


* John Lennon — vocal, acoustic rhythm guitar, harmonica
* Paul McCartney — bass guitar
* George Harrison — 12-string lead guitar
* Ringo Starr — drums

Cover versions

* The song was played live on the Late Show with David Letterman in 1996 when Ringo Starr was a guest on the show.
* The Beach Boys covered it in 1965.
* The Skatalites recorded an instrumental version under the name "Independence Anniversary Ska".
* 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.
* American Idol Season 7 contestant Ramiele Malubay performed this song during the top 11 week when the theme was The Beatles.

A-side: "Yesterday"
Released: 8 March 1976
Format: vinyl record (7", 12")
Recorded: Abbey Road Studios, 25–26 February 1964
Genre: Pop
Length: 02:44
Label: Capitol Records (US), Parlophone/EMI (UK)
Writer(s): Lennon/McCartney
Producer: George Martin

Song by The Beach Boys
Album: Beach Boys' Party!
Released: 8 November 1965
Genre: Pop
Length: 1:40
Label: Capitol
Composer: Lennon/McCartney
Producer: Brian Wilson


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