The Beatles' music: quotes and info

“I Don’t Want to Spoil the Party”

What John Lennon said about “I Don’t Want to Spoil the Party”

JOHN 1974: “That was a very personal one of mine.”

JOHN 1980: “That’s me!”

Info about “I Don’t Want to Spoil the Party”

“I Don’t Want to Spoil the Party” was written by John Lennon and credited to Lennon–McCartney. It was released on the album Beatles for Sale in the United Kingdom in December 1964.

The lyrics anticipate themes that were to become familiar in Lennon’s songwriting – alienation and inner pain. In this song, the narrator is at a party, waiting for his girl to show up. When it becomes clear that she has stood him up, he decides to leave, rather than spoil the party for everyone else.

Both the lyrics and melody share a melancholy sound and theme with songs that precede it on Beatles for Sale, such as “No Reply” and “I’m a Loser“. Author Ian MacDonald views the song as a return to the subject matter introduced by Lennon on “I’ll Cry Instead“, from the Beatles’ A Hard Day’s Night album, and a “preview” of “You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away“, from Help!

The Beatles recorded “I Don’t Want to Spoil the Party” on 29 September 1964 in 19 takes, the last of which was released. George Harrison’s guitar solo, played on his new Gretsch Tennessean in the style of Carl Perkins, was enhanced by midrange resonance boost, giving it an especially bright sound.

According to The Encyclopedia of Country Music, the song is an early example of country rock, anticipating the Byrds’ work in that style. MacDonald describes it as the “most overt” country track on Beatles for Sale, an album that is “dominated by the idiom”.

Among the band’s biographers, opinions differ on which Beatle sings the low harmony part during the verses, below Lennon’s lead vocal. MacDonald lists Harrison as the second vocalist on the track, while John Winn credits McCartney, saying that he sounds “deceptively like a second Lennon”. According to musicologist Walter Everett, the harmony part is Lennon “self-duetting”.


  • John Lennon – lead vocals (verses) and harmony vocals (chorus), acoustic rhythm guitar
  • Paul McCartney – bass, harmony vocals (chorus)
  • George Harrison – lead guitar
  • Ringo Starr – drums, tambourine

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