I Wanna Be Your Man

With The Beatles album artworkWritten by: Lennon-McCartney
Recorded: 11, 12, 30 September; 3, 23 October 1963
Producer: George Martin
Engineer: Norman Smith

Released: 22 November 1963 (UK), 20 January 1964 (US)

Ringo Starr: vocals, drums, maracas
John Lennon: backing vocals, rhythm guitar
Paul McCartney: backing vocals, bass
George Harrison: lead guitar
George Martin: Hammond organ

Available on:
With The Beatles
Live At The BBC
Anthology 1

Ringo Starr’s vocal contribution to With The Beatles was also recorded and released in 1963 by The Rolling Stones as their second single.

Download on iTunes


The song was written by Lennon and McCartney, who evidently didn’t rate it that highly.

It was a throwaway. The only two versions of the song were Ringo and the Rolling Stones. That shows how much importance we put on it: We weren’t going to give them anything great, right?
John Lennon, 1980
All We Are Saying, David Sheff

Accounts of its genesis vary. Paul McCartney recalled that I Wanna Be Your Man was written for Starr and later offered to the Stones. He recounted how he and Lennon were passed by a taxi containing Jagger and Richards while walking down London’s Charing Cross Road.

So they shouted from the taxi and we yelled, ‘Hey, hey, give us a lift, give us a lift,’ and we bummed a lift off them. So there were the four of us sitting in a taxi and I think Mick said, ‘Hey, we’re recording. Got any songs?’ And we said, ‘Aaaah, yes, sure, we got one. How about Ringo’s song? You could do it as a single.’
Paul McCartney
Many Years From Now, Barry Miles

John Lennon recalled completing it with McCartney in front of Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, who were impressed enough to begin songwriting themselves shortly afterwards.

I Wanna Be Your Man was a kind of lick Paul had: ‘I want to be your lover, baby. I want to be your man.’ I think we finished it off for the Stones… yeah, we were taken down to meet the Stones at the club where they were playing in Richmond by Brian and some other guy. They wanted a song and we went to see them to see what kind of stuff they did. Mick and Keith had heard that we had an unfinished song – Paul just had this bit and we needed another verse or something. We sort of played it roughly to them and they said, ‘Yeah, OK, that’s our style.’ So Paul and I just went off in the corner of the room and finished the song off while they were all still there talking. We came back and that’s how Mick and Keith got inspired to write, because, ‘Jesus, look at that. They just went in the corner and wrote it and came back!’ Right in front of their eyes we did it.
John Lennon, 1980
All We Are Saying, David Sheff

It was important that the song was simple, in order for Ringo to be able to sing it. As McCartney explained:

We often used to say to people, the words don’t really matter, people don’t listen to words, it’s the sound they listen to. So I Wanna Be Your Man was to try and give Ringo something like Boys; an uptempo song he could sing from the drums. So again it had to be very simple.
Paul McCartney
Many Years From Now, Barry Miles

I Wanna Be Your Man was performed live by The Beatles many times, following its release on With The Beatles. Indeed, it was the oldest Lennon-McCartney song performed at their final concert, on 29 August 1966 at San Francisco’s Candlestick Park.

The Beatles also recorded it on two occasions for BBC radio. The first was for Saturday Club, recorded on 7 January 1964 and first broadcast on 15 February. The second, which was included on Live At The BBC, was for the From Us To You show. It was recorded on 28 February and transmitted on 30 March.

A version from the Around The Beatles TV show, recorded on 19 April 1964, was released on the Anthology 1 collection in 1995.

In the studio

Although musically one of The Beatles’ most rudimentary songs, the recording of I Wanna Be Your Man was a surprisingly drawn out affair. They recorded a single take during the 11 September 1963 session, the day after they had offered it to Jagger and Richards.

The Beatles returned to it the following day, recording a further six takes but leaving it unfinished. Then, at the end of the month, George Martin overdubbed an organ part onto take seven while The Beatles were on holiday.

On 3 October Ringo overdubbed a maraca part, and on the 23rd the group finally completed the recording.

9 Responses to “I Wanna Be Your Man”

  1. Byrath

    Just a dumb little song, but its the pre-Rubber Soul song that gets stuck in my head the most. Unfortunately.

    Reply
  2. Tanja Malinois

    I like the “roughness” of the song’s performance. I imagine that this would have been a great song for the Cavern concerts: yes, rudimentary, but full of verve, energy, fun.

    Reply
  3. Shawn

    I’ve always wondered what Ringo mutters right before the solo is done and the vocals kick back in.

    Reply
  4. Bill

    When you play the Stones’ & Beatles’ versions back-to-back, it’s clear who the better musicians are. As much as I love the Stones (and I do), to this day they still sound like a semi-out-of-tune bar band (not that there’s anything wrong with that).

    Reply

Leave a reply