Published on 1965
Track 3 on “Rubber Soul“
JOHN 1980: “Paul.”
PAUL circa-1994: “Normally I write on guitar and have full chords, or on piano and have full chords, but this was written around two little notes, a very slim phrase– a two-note progression that I had very high on the first two strings of the guitar… Then I wrote the tune for ‘You Won’t See Me’ against it. It was 100 percent me, but I am always happy to give John a credit because there’s always a chance that on the session he might have said, ‘That’d be better.’”
About “You Won’t See Me”
“You Won’t See Me” was written by Paul McCartney and credited to Lennon–McCartney. As with songs such as “We Can Work It Out” and “I’m Looking Through You” from the same period, the lyrics address McCartney’s troubled relationship with Jane Asher and her desire to pursue her career as a stage and film actress. The Beatles recorded the song during what author Mark Lewisohn describes as a “marathon” final recording session for Rubber Soul, to ensure the album’s pre-Christmas release.
The Beatles recorded “You Won’t See Me” during the last day of recording for Rubber Soul – an all-night session that started at 6 pm on 11 November 1965. The deadline for completing the album was up, and the band needed to record three songs that night, in addition to finishing work on “I’m Looking Through You”. As a result, they cut the song in only two takes. At 3:22, it was the longest track the Beatles had recorded up to this point. The fadeout is slightly longer on the mono mix.
McCartney played piano on the basic track and then overdubbed his bass part. The tempo gradually slows down throughout the song, a point that music journalist Robert Fontenot attributes to McCartney leading the performance on piano, rather than Ringo Starr’s timekeeping abilities on the drums. In author Jonathan Gould’s description of the song, the tempo appears to “drag” due to McCartney’s “hyperactive Motown-style bass line”. Mal Evans, one of the Beatles’ roadies, is credited on the album sleeve as having played Hammond organ. His contribution consists solely of an A note held throughout the final verse and the coda. Gould also comments on the effect achieved by John Lennon and George Harrison’s wordless backing vocals over the verses, saying that their voices represent “a pair of deaf ears” by “embodying the girl’s indifference” to McCartney’s complaints. Starr augmented his drum part with a separate hi-hat overdub, adding rhythmic accents throughout the song.
Meaning of “You Won’t See Me”
The lyrics of “You Won’t See Me” are about a relationship that is experiencing difficulties and communication breakdown. The singer expresses frustration and sadness over the fact that their partner seems distant and unresponsive. Despite their efforts to reach out and maintain the relationship, the partner is seemingly avoiding them.
The refrain of the song, which repeats the title phrase, “You won’t see me,” emphasizes the feeling of being ignored or overlooked by the person they care about. The song captures the universal experience of struggling to connect with someone who is emotionally distant.
“You Won’t See Me” is a poignant reflection on the challenges and frustrations that can arise in romantic relationships when communication breaks down. The song’s emotive lyrics and memorable melody contribute to its enduring popularity.
- Paul McCartney – double-tracked lead vocal, bass guitar, piano
- John Lennon – backing vocal, tambourine
- George Harrison – backing vocal, lead guitar
- Ringo Starr – drums, hi-hat
- Mal Evans – Hammond organ