Released: 6 August 1965 (UK), 13 August 1965 (US)
George Harrison: vocals, acoustic guitar, 12-string electric guitar
John Lennon: harmony vocals, acoustic guitar, snare drum
Paul McCartney: harmony vocals, bass guitar
Ringo Starr: acoustic guitar percussion, cowbell
The second of George Harrison’s songs to be recorded by The Beatles, I Need You was featured in the film Help! and appeared on its soundtrack LP.
In the studio
The Beatles recorded the rhythm track of I Need You in five takes on 15 February 1965 – the first day of recording for what was to become the Help! album.
The line-up was unusual, and documented by George Martin in his detailed session notes (originally published in his limited edition book Playback). Harrison played a Spanish guitar and McCartney was on his usual Hofner bass, but Starr created a percussive rhythm on the back of a Gibson Jumbo acoustic guitar. Lennon, meanwhile, played the snare drum on beats two and four throughout the song.
The backing was recorded onto track one of the tape. Harrison’s guide vocals were recorded at the same time onto track two. More guide vocals, with Harrison joined occasionally by McCartney, were added to track three; and track four contained further vocals from the pair, with cowbell by Starr.
Track four was wiped the next day, and Harrison added a new lead vocal part, with harmonies from Lennon and McCartney. Harrison’s guide vocals on track two were replaced with more vocals from Lennon and McCartney, as well as cowbell by Starr and Harrison’s Rickenbacker 12-string guitar, the latter played using a volume foot pedal. The effect was used again for Yes It Is during the same recording session.
I could never coordinate it. So some of those, what we do is, I played the part, and John would kneel down in front of me and turn my guitar’s volume control.