I’ll Be On My Way

Live At The BBC album artworkWritten by: Lennon-McCartney
Recorded: 4 April 1963
Producer: Bryant Marriott

Released: 30 November 1994 (UK), 5 December 1994 (US)

John Lennon: vocals, acoustic guitar
Paul McCartney: harmony vocals, bass
George Harrison: lead guitar
Ringo Starr: drums

Available on:
Live At The BBC

Later given to Billy J Kramer and the Dakotas, this early Lennon-McCartney song was recorded by The Beatles just once, during a 1963 radio session.

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Clearly inspired by Buddy Holly, I'll Be On My Way was an early Lennon-McCartney collaboration. Believed to date from around 1961, the song's touchingly naive lyrics rhyme "June light" with "moonlight", and speaks of a place "where the winds don't blow and golden rivers flow".

That's Paul, through and through. Doesn't it sound like him? Tra la la la la [laughs]. Yeah, that's Paul on the voids of driving through the country.
John Lennon, 1980
All We Are Saying, David Sheff

Although a part of the group's early live repertoire, I'll Be On My Way wasn't performed at either The Beatles' audition at Decca or their first EMI session, suggesting it had largely fallen out of favour by 1962.

Nevertheless, the Beatles performed I'll Be On My Way on 4 April 1963, for the BBC Light Programme series Side By Side. The Beatles recorded five songs that day at the BBC Paris Studio in London, which were first broadcast on 24 June.

It's a little bit too June-moon for me, but these were very early songs and they worked out quite well.
Paul McCartney
Many Years From Now, Barry Miles

The BBC version is the only known recording of the song by The Beatles, and was released in 1994 on the Live At The BBC collection. Billy J Kramer and the Dakotas released their version as the b-side to their debut single - Do You Want To Know A Secret, another Lennon-McCartney song.

The Dakotas were, like The Beatles, managed by Brian Epstein and signed to Parlophone. They recorded I'll Be On My Way at Abbey Road Studios on 14 March 1963, with George Martin producing. The single was released on 26 April, and reached number two in the UK singles chart.

16 responses on “I’ll Be On My Way

  1. paulsbass

    What, no comment on this fantastic song?!
    I think it’s one the highlights on the excellent BBC album.
    How they start unison, then split up in two great harmonies – pure genius.
    And they considered THIS a throwaway song!

  2. JohnsRicknbackr

    I agree with everything paulsbass said. It’s a gorgeous song. It would have been a number one for them had they not thrown it away; Kramer’s version just seems wrong to me. I can’t stand Paul’s moon-june comment! Buddy Holly would have LOVED this song!

  3. GeorgeTSimpson

    Yeah this song is quite good. Maybe just because it’s the only original song on Live at the BBC, but I would call it one of the highlights on this record. I’m pleased that they did release one version of this song.

  4. pistondamp

    Since I first heard this song on a Norwegian radio broadcast back in 91 (they broadcasted some old BBC-recordings with a really dull Norwegian speaker), I totally fell in love with it. I would love for Paul to record the song today.

  5. ohad maon

    A beauty. wirtten by Paul. (See John’s comment above) Lennon is the lead singer, since he was the singer and the leader in those early days. I love it. Ohad

  6. Idealemufarm

    One of my favourite songs from Live at the BBC. I’m sure I can hear George singing harmony in the ‘I’ll be on my way’ part. According to some sources, apparently the song was written in 1961, which means Paul would have been 19 years old. In light of that, I’m sure he can be forgiven the ‘June night – moon light’ lyric.

    1. Aussie Mark

      From memory, the BBC radio shows complete indicate that George had a throat infection when the group recorded these 5 songs, so they avoided doing one which required him to sing. The BBC interviewer asks them about this and George gives a wordless raspy response to demonstrate. Presumably, when the group was trying to work out what to do for the day, one of them has recalled this simple tune from earlier times, in much the same vein as the Get Back sessions show them doing. The moment was right for them to run through it well enough to record for the BBC fortunately, since otherwise posterity would be the poorer.

  7. JPM-Fangirl

    I absolutely love this song. But I must say; it sounds more like George and John than Paul and John to me. But whether it’s Paul or George, it’s still a lovely tune and it would’ve made a great addition to the Beatles catalog, no matter how much John dissed it.

  8. Barry

    It’s interesting how during the early days, a good portion of the McCartney originals were given away to other artists, while the Lennon songs were kept for the albums. “I’ll Be On My Way” would have been a great song for one of their early LPs. The “where golden rivers flow” line always gives me a laugh.

  9. yrwehere

    I heard this song for the first time in my 58-year life just yesterday, and now I can’t get it out of my head! At first I thought it was a cover of a Buddy Holly song that I also had never heard of.

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