I’m Happy Just To Dance With You

A Hard Day's Night album artworkWritten by: Lennon-McCartney
Recorded: 1 March 1964
Producer: George Martin
Engineer: Norman Smith

Released: 10 July 1964 (UK), 26 June 1964 (US)

George Harrison: vocals, rhythm guitar
John Lennon: backing vocals, rhythm guitar
Paul McCartney: backing vocals, bass
Ringo Starr: drums

Available on:
A Hard Day's Night

I'm Happy Just To Dance With You was written by Lennon and McCartney as George Harrison's vocal spot on the A Hard Day's Night album.

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The song was purposefully written with Harrison's vocal range in mind.

We Wrote I'm Happy Just To Dance With You for George in the film. It was a bit of a formula song. We knew that in E if you went to an A flat minor, you could always make a song with those chords; that change pretty much always excited you. This is one of these. Certainly Do You Want To Know A Secret was. This one anyway was a straight co-written song for George. We wouldn't have actually wanted to sing it because it was a bit... The ones that pandered to the fans in truth were our least favourite songs but they were good. They were good for the time. The nice thing about it was to actually pull a song off on a slim little premise like that. A simple little idea. It was songwriting practice.
Paul McCartney
Many Years From Now, Barry Miles

In the studio

I'm Happy Just To Dance With You was recorded on 1 March 1964, The Beatles' first session on a Sunday.

They completed three songs in three hours; the others were Long Tall Sally and I Call Your Name. I'm Happy Just To Dance With You was the first to be recorded that day, and took four takes to get right.

That was written for George to give him a piece of the action.
John Lennon, 1980
All We Are Saying, David Sheff

The only known non-EMI version of I'm Happy Just To Dance With You was recorded on 17 July 1964 for the BBC's From Us To You programme. It was taped at the BBC Paris Studio, London, and first broadcast on 3 August.

A bootleg version is also in circulation which features the BBC backing track only, captured without Harrison's multitracked lead vocals.

10 responses on “I’m Happy Just To Dance With You

    1. SD

      You’re right: Ringo played an Arabian drum during the overdub process (it can be during in the verses).
      George doesn’t play lead guitar in this one, it’s just a simple rhythm part (Lennon played the lead-like rhythm part).

      1. Joe Post author

        Ian MacDonald, in Revolution In The Head, identified it as an African drum. Do we know for sure it was an Arabian one? Until I can be sure I’ll leave Ringo’s contribution as just ‘drums’.

        In his sleeve notes for With The Beatles, Tony Barrow said that Ringo played a “loose-skinned Arabian bongo (don’t ask me where he picked that up!)” on Don’t Bother Me. I wonder if the DM Beatles site is confusing two songs sung by George Harrison.

  1. Charlie

    Paul said that “I’m Happy Just to Dance With You” was a 50/50 collaboration with John, as this site said. However, John listed the song as one that he wrote (without Paul) in Hit Parader, April, 1972.

  2. James Ferrell

    Both this and the previous made-for-George song “Do You Want To Know A Secret” have melodies that stick to the scale to an unusual extent. I wonder if John though George’s singing worked best on scales back then?

  3. EveT

    What I love is the transformation in the film “A Hard Day’s Night” when the, um, “square” (grownup, not hip) dancers are dancing to this melody played by the rehearsal pianist in a triple rhythm. It sounds vaguely familiar to the casual Beatles fan but might not be fully recognizable. Then the dance rehearsal is over, they leave the stage, the beat changes, and the Beatles sing and play the song their own way. It’s magical.

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