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Listen to “Chains”
  • Published on 1963
  • Author: Gerry Goffin/Carole King
  • Track 4 on “Please Please Me

About “Chains”

“Chains” is the song that Gerry Goffin and Carole King wrote together in 1961 as part of a husband-and-wife songwriting duo. An American girl group called the Cookies recorded this song in 1962 and it went on to become a hit. In 1980, Carole King recorded a solo version of “Chains” for the album Pearls: Songs of Goffin and King, which was released in 1980.

There was a lot of cover versions of this song by Liverpool groups during 1962, and it was also incorporated into the Beatles’ live performances. It was recorded by the group on 11 February 1963 and it was included on their first album in the UK, Please Please Me, which was released in June 1963.

The song was the first of two songs on the album featuring George Harrison on lead vocals, and it features the early Beatles trademark harmonica introduction accompanied by the backing vocal harmonies provided by John Lennon and Paul McCartney.

A number of BBC radio shows have featured the Beatles playing the song live, including “Side By Side”, “Here We Go” and “Pop Go the Beatles”.

Meaning of “Chains”

The lyrics of “Chains” tell the story of a person who feels trapped in a relationship. The narrator feels bound and restricted, as if he is imprisoned by the chains of love. He expresses a desire to break free from the emotional constraints that hold him back.

Lines like “You got me where you want me / I ain’t nothin’ but your fool” and “You should have let me be” convey the narrator’s feelings of being controlled and restricted.

“Chains” explores the theme of feeling constrained and restricted within a romantic relationship. It touches on the challenges of navigating the complexities of love and the desire for freedom and autonomy.


  • George Harrison – Lead Vocals, Rhythm Guitar
  • John Lennon – Rhythm Guitar, Harmonica Background Vocals
  • Paul McCartney – Bass Guitar, Background Vocals
  • Ringo Starr – Drums

How to play “Chains” on guitar

In The Beatles’ rendition of “Chains,” the guitar parts in this song are relatively straightforward, featuring a repeated riff that provides a catchy and rhythmic foundation for the song. The riff is based on a simple bluesy pattern and is played with a clean, jangly tone.

While the guitar in “Chains” may not be as complex or prominent as in some of The Beatles’ later songs, it fits well with the overall style and sound of their early recordings. It complements the vocal harmonies and adds to the upbeat and infectious quality of the track.

The guitar in The Beatles’ version of “Chains” serves its purpose in creating a catchy and enjoyable pop song, characteristic of their early musical style.

The following video features the guitar parts of “Chains”:

Guitar cover with tab of “Chains”

How to play “Chains” on bass

The bass line in “Chains” is relatively simple and provides a solid rhythmic foundation for the song. It follows the chord progressions and complements the melody and harmonies. McCartney’s bass playing style, even in their early recordings, was known for its melodic and inventive qualities, and “Chains” is no exception.

While the bass may not be as prominent or intricate as in some of The Beatles’ later compositions, it effectively supports the overall sound of the song, contributing to the tight and cohesive rhythm section that was characteristic of their early recordings.

The bass in The Beatles’ version of “Chains” plays a vital role in shaping the musical arrangement and complements the other instruments and vocals in the track.

The following video features the bassline of “Chains”:

Bass cover with tab of “Chains”

“Chains” karaoke

For those who want to try singing “Chains” over a backing track, the following video features a good karaoke version of the song:

Karaoke version of “Chains”

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