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“I’ll Be Back”

Listen to “I’ll Be Back”

JOHN 1972: “A nice tune, though the middle is a bit tatty.”

JOHN 1980: “‘I’ll Be Back’ is me completely. My variation of the chords in a Del Shannon song.”

PAUL circa-1994: “‘I’ll Be Back’ was co-written, but it was largely John’s idea.”

About “I’ll Be Back”

“I’ll Be Back” was recorded for the soundtrack album to their film “A Hard Day’s Night” (1964) but not used in the film. This song was not released in North America until Beatles ’65 five months later.

According to musicologist Ian MacDonald, Lennon created the song based on the chords of Del Shannon’s “Runaway” which had been a UK hit in April 1961. Author Bill Harry also wrote: “He just reworked the chords of the Shannon number and came up with a completely different song”.

Producer George Martin preferred to open and close Beatles albums using dominant material stating: “Another principle of mine when assembling an album was always to go out on a side strongly, placing the weaker material towards the end but then going out with a bang”.

Ian MacDonald points out however: “Fading away in tonal ambiguity at the end of A Hard Day’s Night, it was a surprisingly downbeat farewell and a token of coming maturity”. Music journalist Robert Sandall wrote in Mojo magazine: “‘I’ll Be Back’ was the early Beatles at their most prophetic. This grasp of how to colour arrangements in darker or more muted tones foreshadowed an inner journey they eventually undertook in three albums’ time, on Rubber Soul”

Meaning of “I’ll Be Back”

The lyrics of “I’ll Be Back” convey a mixture of longing, uncertainty, and a promise of return. The narrator acknowledges that they’re leaving, but reassures their partner that they will eventually come back. There’s a sense of conflicted emotions, as the narrator is torn between the desire to leave and the love they feel for their partner.

Lines like “You know, if you break my heart, I’ll go” and “I’ll be back again” express the narrator’s vulnerability and the complexity of their feelings.

“I’ll Be Back” is a song that captures the bittersweet nature of leaving a loved one while promising to return. It touches on themes of love, separation, and the hope for future reunion. It’s a poignant reflection on the complexities of romantic relationships.


  • John Lennon – double-tracked vocal, acoustic rhythm guitar
  • Paul McCartney – harmony vocal, bass
  • George Harrison – harmony vocal, classical acoustic guitar, acoustic guitar
  • Ringo Starr – drums

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