She Said She Said

Revolver album artworkWritten by: Lennon-McCartney
Recorded: 21 June 1966
Producer: George Martin
Engineer: Geoff Emerick

Released: 5 August 1966 (UK), 8 August 1966 (US)

John Lennon: vocals, rhythm guitar, Hammond organ
George Harrison: backing vocals, lead guitar, bass
Ringo Starr: drums, shaker

Available on:
Revolver

The final track recorded for Revolver, She Said She Said was inspired by an LSD-influenced conversation between John Lennon and actor Peter Fonda.

Download on iTunes

During The Beatles’ US tour in the summer of 1965, they rented a house in Los Angeles’ Mulholland Drive. On 24 August they played host to Roger McGuinn and David Crosby of The Byrds, and the two parties, apart from Paul McCartney, spent the day tripping on LSD.

The actor Peter Fonda arrived at the house, also on acid. He attempted to comfort Harrison, who thought he was dying.

I told him there was nothing to be afraid of and that all he needed to do was relax. I said that I knew what it was like to be dead because when I was 10 years old I’d accidentally shot myself in the stomach and my heart stopped beating three times while I was on the operating table because I’d lost so much blood.

John was passing at the time and heard me saying ‘I know what it’s like to be dead’. He looked at me and said, ‘You’re making me feel like I’ve never been born. Who put all that shit in your head?’

Peter Fonda

Lennon recounted the incident in one of his final interviews in 1980, speaking to a journalist from Playboy magazine.

It’s an interesting track. The guitars are great on it. That was written after an acid trip in LA during a break in The Beatles’ tour where we were having fun with The Byrds and lots of girls. Some from Playboy, I believe. Peter Fonda came in when we were on acid and he kept coming up to me and sitting next to me and whispering, ‘I know what it’s like to be dead.’

He was describing an acid trip he’d been on. We didn’t want to hear about that! We were on an acid trip and the sun was shining and the girls were dancing and the whole thing was beautiful and Sixties, and this guy – who I really didn’t know; he hadn’t made Easy Rider or anything – kept coming over, wearing shades, saying, ‘I know what it’s like to be dead,’ and we kept leaving him because he was so boring! And I used it for the song, but I changed it to ‘she’ instead of ‘he’. It was scary. You know, a guy… when you’re flying high and [whispers] ‘I know what it’s like to be dead, man.’ I remembered the incident. Don’t tell me about it! I don’t want to know what it’s like to be dead!

John Lennon
All We Are Saying, David Sheff

Switching between 4/4 and 3/4 time signatures, She Said She Said was written by Lennon with some help from Harrison.

I was at his house one day – this is the mid-Sixties – and he was struggling with some tunes. He had loads of bits, maybe three songs, that were unfinished, and I made suggestions and helped him to work them together so that they became one finished song, She Said She Said. The middle part of that record is a different song.
George Harrison

In the studio

She Said She Said was recorded when The Beatles realised they were one song short for the Revolver album. In a hectic nine hour session, during which the majority of the album’s mono and stereo mixes were also done, they rehearsed the song more than 25 times and then recorded three takes of the rhythm track.

To the last of these were added John Lennon’s lead vocals, and backing vocals from John and George. Extra guitar and Lennon’s Hammond organ track were then overdubbed, and She Said She Said was complete.

Unusually, Paul McCartney most likely did not play on the track.

John brought it in pretty much finished, I think. I’m not sure but I think it was one of the only Beatle records I never played on. I think we’d had a barney or something and I said, ‘Oh, fuck you!’ and they said, ‘Well, we’ll do it.’ I think George played bass.
Paul McCartney
Many Years From Now, Barry Miles

64 Responses to “She Said She Said”

  1. Raymond

    This is The One, I say…
    Well,…

    ahem,

    the best rocksong ever!
    (Yes, people, I dare state. PLAY IT LOUD! NOOO… LOUDER!)

    Just because,

    Its vibes bounce and circle round your head, through your ears, sometimes even right in front of your eyes, but you never totally get it, do you…

    And it just changes every time you listen to it! (Try it! LOUDER…)

    Do you believe in magic?

    Reply
    • grego mac

      This is one of my favorite Beatles songs. Listen to Ringo’s drums! I DARE anyone to say that Ringo is not a good drummer after hearing this song! I didn’t know that Paul was not on this track until I read it on this site. The guitars are even heavier than the Jefferson Airplane at that time, and Hendrix hadn’t become a star yet. AWESOME!!!!

      Reply
  2. Vonbontee

    I always suspected that Paul didn’t like this song at all – couldn’t hear his voice, and his bass part lacked the usual meticulous melodiousness, as if he couldn’t be bothered. But it never occurred to me that it might not even be him on bass! This was my absolute favourite Beatles track for a long time and I still like it a lot. Outrageous time signature, wild guitars & drums

    Reply
  3. brian

    The bass in this song while there, seems almost nonexistent as far as it’s presence… sounds a little washed out. Now discovering that Paul admittedly didn’t even play bass on “She Said, She Said”, it all makes snese.

    Reply
  4. Jean Erica Moniker

    I have to disagree about the bass part being sub-par. While it’s not quite up to McCartney’s usually manic brilliance, it suits the song remarkably well and offsets the guitars along with the drums and vocals superbly. George acquitted himself exceptionally well in one of his few Fabs appearances on the instrument. And George’s counter vocals are a nice relief from the usual Macca-nificence! This is probably my second favorite Lennon song after Strawberry Fields (there are probably actually a whole slew tied for 2nd place if I’m honest).

    This may also be one case where I prefer the CD listening experience to the album because going straight from She Said into Good Day Sunshine is jarring in a perfect way!

    Reply
  5. Joseph Brush

    Obviously George is not Paul on bass.
    Who is?
    But the playing by George is workmanlike.
    His suggestions also helped John put several pieces together producing one great song.
    Let’s hear it for George!

    Reply
    • Razor

      Better bass players than Paul!

      1. Lee Dorman-Iron Butterfly
      2. Jack Bruce-Cream
      3. Jack Cassidy- Hot Tuna

      These are just a few who played in the same time frame as Paul and IMO better.

      Lee Dorman played a lead bass in almost every song by IB.

      Reply
      • grego mac

        IMHO this is a matter of styles as opposed to technical proficiency. I LOVE Jack, Jack & Lee, but they are NOT BETTER than Paul. Each has their own style. Let’s go over to the “Rain” site! Please join me.

        Reply
        • Cameron McIntosh

          As a bass player for over forty years, Paul is most defiantly one of the best bass players ever. The funny thing is, he played bass out of necessity not desire. The reason Paul is one of the best is, he was a pioneer, yeah listen to Rain if that is not unique I do not know what is. Of course, there are more technical bass players out there, and real bass players play with there fingers, but for someone who it up out of necessity and did what he did? The man is most serious he the reason many others and I play today

          Reply
      • Vonbontee

        I never heard anbody single out Lee Dorman for praise before! I always thought his bass was fairly notable, but the Butterfly in general have never really gotten much recognition from anybody.

        Reply
  6. Von Bontee

    Yeah, considering that the three of them did the entire song in a single day, overdubs and all, there’s no way you can fault George for not spending as much time crafting an elaborate bass line as Paul would’ve.

    Reply
    • George Demake

      Yeah, this is really a guitar song, and George’s guitar and bass if thats him on bass stay fairly close to the vocal melody. Ringo’s drumming on this song is strong enough to carry the rhythm section and demonstrates that he was(or still is) a very good rock drummer indeed.

      Reply
  7. LR

    we all have to realize the bass part isnt as good as pauls work or even georges when hes on it because of one really good reason nobody thinks of…all the basses available to George were LEFTY!

    Reply
    • Peter

      Wrong. George obviously wouldve used a right handed one. Possibly owned by the studio itself (alot of their equipment was owned by the studio, why not a bass?). and keep in mind that the song was brought in, rehearsed, and recorded in a single day. Not enough time to come up with an intricate bass line, right?

      Reply
  8. BeatleMark

    Hey, that’s a good question LR! Let’s see…when did the Beatles get the Fender VI right handed bass? According to Andy Babiuk (The Beatles Gear) the Fender VI didn’t arrive on the scene until the White Album sessions.
    So either George used one of Paul’s basses upside down or merely borrowed one from another group recording at Abbey Road during that time.

    Reply
    • lenmista

      i read that george used a nusonic bass for she said she said. its a british made guitar and they still make them today. when john played bass he used a fender bass vi.also paul used a fender jazz bass almost exclusively on the white album sessions. and john actually plays a bass vi on rocky raccoon. believe it or not.

      Reply
    • mistwalker51

      There are pictures of George playing a ‘Dean Bass’ in the studio, close to this time frame.

      Reply
  9. mjb

    Everett’s take:

    We have drums on the left; bass, John’s sped-up lead vocal and backing vocals from John and George centre; John’s rhythm guitar, George’s distorted lead guitar and harmonium on the right.

    Paul recalls that an argument led to George playing bass on this track. Paul did not participate.

    Reply
  10. Sivana

    It’s worth pointing out that whatever he recalls now, Paul almost certainly played bass on the song, if we are to trust studio documentation. John Barrett’s EMI tape log indicates that 3 takes of the rhythm track were comprised of drums, bass, and 2 guitars. Unless there was another guitarist visiting the studio that day, Paul must have filled one of those spots, and the most likely one is obviously going to be bass. His notes say that Paul’s absence occurs after those takes are in the can.

    Who knows why Paul thinks he did not contribute? Perhaps at the time he was resentful about being excluded from John and George’s work on the composition, perhaps he felt left out from the acid experience shared by the other three, who knows, but if his part is not up to his usual standard, I think it’s more likely that his heart was not in it. It’s also worth remembering that “Many Years From Now,” enjoyable though it is, is rife with inaccuracy, so anything from that book should be taken with the odd grain of salt.

    Reply
  11. Von Bontee

    I don’t think that studio log indicates that they were all playing at the same time – didn’t Paul overdub his bass lines after the rhythm tracks were completed in those days? And whatever Paul’s memory lapses, it’s not like him to give himself LESS credit! I think he’d remember something as significant as his walking out on a session.

    Reply
    • nic carver

      Though, it would be perfectly in character for Paul to dodge credit for work he didn’t feel was up to snuff. Poor George, always the whipping boy. Paul still calls him his ‘little brother,’ privileging himself above George in the pecking order.

      For example, he tried to share blame for the ill advised idea to go the bus tour the Beatles went on for Magical Mystery Tour. John confirmed it was all Paul’s idea saying “…I thought it was a terrible idea.”

      Reply
    • SgtPepper1909

      I’m pretty sure George used a Les Paul on this track, which was a EC gift. He had bought an array of new guitars to give diversity to the joyful ulutations of the Beatles, according to Guitarist magazine. But I have a photo of George sporting an SG around this time–it sounds like the heavy Gibson sound, so those two are my best guesses.

      Reply
  12. MrBig

    Since Harrison helped with the writing, Lennon-McCartney isn’t the right credibility. Lennon-Harrison is more accurate.

    Reply
    • Joseph Brush

      George didn’t help with the writing, he helped with the editing.
      John gave some lines for Taxman and he didn’t get any credit.
      As an author of two books who has faced deadlines, rewrites, proofreading, editorial comments and suggestions, I know what I am talking about.

      Reply
      • Von Bontee

        Anyways, there’s no such animal as a “Lennon-Harrison” song, of course, as far as writing credits are concerned.

        Reply
          • Von Bontee

            Ooh, right! Forgot about that one.

            My point was just that, after the formation of Northern Songs, the Lennon-McCartney names were inseparable, regardless of which one actually wrote the song. (But we all knew that anyways.)

            Reply
            • MrBig

              So still, it should be a Lennon-Harrison composition even though it was just a few one liners. To me this was their biggest collaboration.

              Reply
              • william

                Editing is far different from composing, or is it? I guess it depends on whether one is merely subtracting things or whether one is actually changing and adding things. Ultimately, we all know what determines writing credit: power. Lennon had it and Harrison didn’t.

                I find it interesting that Harrison’s contributions to John and Paul’s work are considered “merely riffs,” yet Lennon and McCartney get writing credit for songs they had little or nothing to do with, based on ….. That’s right, a legal agreement.

                Lennon owed a debt to Harrison, much more than McCartney, but Harrison’s contributions to many of these songs were well beyond that of a session lead guitarist. The way I see it, if you write part of a song or a riff or what have you, you deserve credit.

                One reason U2 has lasted longer than pretty much any other group is that they decided to share credit on all songs. It seems to have worked fairly well for them and I think that had the Beatles done something similar for all three composers, they might have stayed together a lot longer.

    • TomMo

      The issue of writing credits is interesting. Ringo says he only contributed one line to “What Goes On”, but received credit. Ringo contributed one line to “Badge” by Cream, but received no credit. Did Paul’s driver get any reward for giving Paul the title for “Eight Days A Week”? How about Mal Evans who conceived of the lyrics for the Sgt. Pepper’s reprise?

      Reply
      • Joseph Brush

        Also interesting are Lennon’s lyrical contributions to Piggies and Taxman! Sort of makes up for George’s editorial suggestions for She Said She Said.

        Reply
  13. beatleKen

    George had a Burns bass at this time. And have also read that he may have haf a 66 Jazz bass by then. There are pics of George playin the Burns bass in rehearsels for Paperback Writer.

    Reply
  14. Ver

    Whether or not it was Paul on bass, its a great song, very trippy and if you isolate those guitars, they have a very nostalgic sound. Listen to this one:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DzdFENnnSW0

    But if Paul was on bass, he would have done it more melodically that if boosted a little bit more would would noticeably affect the sound of this song. Paul was a brilliant and melodic bass player.

    Reply
  15. kaleidoscope thighs

    I find the fact George played the bass in this song INCREDIBLY sexy. It’s one of my favourite songs on that Revolver album, which is in my top three favourite albums from the Beatles <3
    Alright, I love the bass part, despite the people saying it's not "as brilliant as Paul's bass arrangements" or summat. I also loved the fact that this was practically a Lennon-Harrison song. WIN.

    Reply
  16. Bentle

    I find this one of the most iconic bass lines from the 60′s. Maybe it’s the naivety of the whole thing, the fact it doesn’t overpower the drums, just carries it along.

    Brilliant song.

    Reply
  17. Jean Erica Moniker

    I have to disagree. The part is brilliant and I’m guessing nobody would have found so much in it to criticize before finding out it was George rather than Paul.

    On the other hand, I don’t think editing a couple of John’s songs together qualifies it as a Lennon-Harrison song – arrangement, perhaps?

    Reply
  18. Suckerfly

    I love how if it IS George Harrison on Bass Guitar, that fault is found with it because it’s not “this” or “that”. What he does, if it is him, is allow Ringo to jam. He keeps the bass line simple during the verses, because something has to hold it together while Ringo goes off during the multiple fills he does. Did Entwistle go crazy when Moon was flying around everywhere? No. He held the song together and gave it ground. He had to. And that’s what George is doing, giving you something to hold on to while the drums and guitar take prominence.

    But what he does on the “Everything was right” section is pretty cool. And he does some interesting stuff in the intro. He’s a good bass player.

    Reply
  19. Jory Kenneth

    I have since time immemorial played this song in B, rather than the Bb we hear. The guitars being played in B could be accounted for by slowing down the tape after they have been recorded. As a guitarist It allows me to play the Bass line as open A & E strings to fit the respective chords, making it easy to play around the Myxolydian mode the song is built of. That frees the fingers to play the various chords & lines that were played on the two, sometimes identical sounding guitars. Actually, it’s pretty tricky, if I say so myself, but it works, on my ES 335.
    It’s an unbelievable song, a one-off from a guy, John, who has made tons of on-offs. This particular one is original in every way: I love the fabulous dense mix, and the explosive drums, among Ringo’s best. It speaks for itself.

    Reply
  20. Bronx Boy Billy

    Damn this song is oh so sweet! Been playing bass 2 years now so these days I pay real close attention to it… and Paul’s bass on this record rocks!!! Gotta be some of his best bass – ever.

    Reply
  21. Ron

    I think this is one of the best Beatle songs they ever recorded. I loved how during the Revolver sessions it began to really showcase Ringo and George’s talents as a drummer and guitarist.

    Paul had a spat with the others and they recorded it without him. I agree that Paul is one of the greatest bassists ever, but George’s playing was quite nice indeed. It may have been workmanship for most of the song, but listen closely to the opening bass notes he is playing from the very beginning of the song up until Lennon starts singing the first verse.

    On top of that, this is my favorite song of the Beatles with the sound of their guitars. Especially George’s guitar. I’m still in awe of it everytime I hear it. Very biting, distorted, and clean at the same time. This is also my favorite song of Ringo playing drums. Rain has to take a close second and I mean very close second because he is awesome on Rain. The thing that makes Ringo’s drumming slightly better is his time signatures he plays during the song and his loud cymbals at the end of the versus. I also like John’s singing on this song and nice to hear the Hammond organ at the end of each verse.

    Reply
  22. awaizy

    This is an incredible track. All of the guitars are superb. George laid down an excellent lead part and John’s rhythm part really helps drive the song. The bass is one of the best on the album; I was surprised to see that George played that bit. Further, I think this track features one of Ringo’s best moments as a drummer. They sound absolutely huge.

    Reply
  23. Joseph Brush

    In response to William’comments of June 4th, For me, the editor and lead guitarist only flesh out the writer’s vision.
    I can only say, as an published author, it has been my experience that editors have their job to perform and are complemented for their contribution.
    As for music, your logic would mean that Scotty Moore, James Burton, the Motown guitarists, Glen Campbell, Eric Clapton, Steve Cropper, etc should all be receive co-writing credit for supplying riffs for songs.
    In conclusion, your one example of U2 hasn’t really spread to other bigtime groups and U2 has survived all this time because they only make an album
    every four years.
    The Beatles did not have that luxury.

    Reply
  24. william

    I see works of art as an integrated whole in which all the contributors deserve credit. I understand the realities, but the idea that Mean Mr. Mustard was some sort of work of genius, without more, seems obviously untrue to me. The only reason anyone remembers Mean Mr. Mustard is because Paul and George Martin included it in a medley, in which it was almost certainly, the weakest part.

    In the same way, one can certainly ask whether Come Together would have been in anyway remarkable without the contributions of Harrison. Aerosmith did a version that was pretty good, but then again so was Chuck Berry’s. Harrison’s guitar makes this something different and extraordinary.

    Maybe what we are talking about, really, is whether the legal aspects of songwriting are not detailed enough. Perhaps lawyers need to actually discern all the inputs of the songs and pay the contributors based upon their reasonable contribution. Ask anyone who works in a large corporation like EMI how credit is divided up for various corporate products and I think you will a similar dynamic.

    In an economic sense, Harrison was the underpaid Beatle, and I think we all know that instinctively.

    Reply
    • Joseph Brush

      Leave the lawyers and beancounters out of this. Of course that would be applicable in other industries. Like television, for instance. Cameramen and directors and other underpaid contributors should share in the actor’s monies based upon their contribution.

      Reply
  25. jolpamac

    That bass part is played by an experienced bassplayer. George, despite being already a skilled guitarist, could not have created those lines in 1966. The tempo, the octave leaps, are typical Macca fingerprints.
    Look in the LIB movie, from some 3 years later, how George struggles in playing a simple bass part like Maxwell’s Silver Hammer on the Fender VI….

    Reply
  26. zrd360

    I thought John played the lead guitar. Or it was a mixture of John and George playing lead. I was wrong lol.

    Reply
  27. JensenBell

    I often feel guilty that this is my favorite Beatles song. It’s weird and full of self doubt and introspection, but at the same time the band is just so rock solid. Ringo’s drum performance is one of the best by any drummer ever…the tones are snarling and gritty but so languid.
    _
    Why do I feel guilty? Because I could never tell Paul. I’ll tell him my favorite Paul song is “Hold Me Tight”, my favorite John is “Nowhere Man” (shh), my favorite George is “While My Guitar..” & Ringo’s “Goodnight…” is perfection. I’ll have to be a good soldier and hide the truth: “She Said, She Said” is the Best Beatle Track of All.

    Reply
  28. Joe Cogan

    It’s odd that Geoff Emerick doesn’t mention that Paul didn’t play on this song when he discusses it in “Here, There, and Everywhere”, since the whole book is practically a love letter to him.

    Reply
  29. Norton Stone Age

    Great song, great singing, Great drumming. John Lennon, The Beatles, what can I say?

    Reply
  30. MotTheWot

    It’s quite possibly the most influential Beatles song of all time, it’s the quintessential guitar pop song, if McCartney isn’t on it i bet he regrets he isn’t. I believe this is Lennon’s finest moment, everybody who formed a band would’ve loved this song. Without She Said, She Said you really have no Oasis, no Blur not much at all really. It’s a ground breaking dual guitar blitz that has left it’s mark for almost 50 years!

    Reply
  31. Jay

    I always thought that George is a good bass player & confirmed it until I read here that he really played bass on this song(She Said, She Said).
    I recently saw & heard again ‘Two Of Us’(on Let It Be album & video) and realized that was a bass line played by George on a Telecaster guitar & it’s really pretty good part by George.

    Reply
  32. Paolo

    I’d like to point out the fact that we are assuming that McCartney did not play the bass only on the basis of an uncertain memory of Paul himself, whereas there are documents that suggest that he actually did play it. As already stated by Sivana four years ago in this comment thread, EMI tape log indicates that the bass was played live, in the same track as drums (track1), and along with two guitars (track 2). Accordingly to that, the first takes of this recording must have been performed by a four member line-up. In the impressive book Recording The Beatles you can find confirmation of what I’m saying. It is likely that Paul doesn’t recall anything of this session but the fact that, at a certain point, he had an argument with his mates and left the studio. But when exactly? During the rehearsals or after the first recordings? Documents suggest the second option.

    So I believe that there is no point in leaving him out of the credits to this song. A suggest a more cautious formula, like for example using a question mark. Paul McCartney: bass (?)

    Reply

Leave a reply