The Beatles' music: quotes and info

“I Want To Tell You”

  • Published in 1966
  • Author: Harrison
  • Track 12 on “Revolver

George Harrison’s quote about “I Want To Tell You”

GEORGE 1980: “…about the avalanche of thoughts that are so hard to write down or say or transmit.”

About “I Want To Tell You”

“I Want To Tell You” was written and sung by George Harrison and it was his third composition for Revolver, following “Taxman” and “Love You To“. It was his first time contributing more than two songs to a Beatles album, reflecting his continued growth as a songwriter alongside John Lennon and Paul McCartney.

In writing “I Want to Tell You”, Harrison was inspired by his experience with the hallucinogenic drug LSD. As he later described it, the lyrics express what he calls “the avalanche of thoughts that are so hard to write, say or transmit”. It is Harrison’s stuttering guitar riff and dissonance in the melody that reflect the difficulties in achieving meaningful communication in conjunction with the song’s philosophical message. In this recording, McCartney played his bass guitar part after the band completed the rhythm track for a song, a technique that became commonplace on subsequent Beatles albums.

1991 Live in Japan - George Harrison with Eric Clapton performing "I Want To Tell You"
1991 Live in Japan – George Harrison with Eric Clapton performing “I Want To Tell You”

There has been much praise for the Beatles’ performance on the track among music critics and Beatles biographers, particularly McCartney’s use of Indian-style vocal melisma. Harrison performed “I Want to Tell You” as the opening song of his 1991 Japanese tour with Eric Clapton. This version appears on the album Live in Japan. Jeff Lynne performed the song at the Concert for George tribute in November 2002, a year after Harrison’s death. Other artists who have covered the track include Ted Nugent, the Smithereens, Thea Gilmore, and the Melvins.


  • George Harrison – double-tracked vocal, lead guitar, handclaps
  • John Lennon – harmony vocal, tambourine, handclaps
  • Paul McCartney – harmony vocal, piano, bass, handclaps
  • Ringo Starr – drums, maracas, handclaps

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