Ask Me Why

Ask Me Why single - United KingdomWritten by: Lennon-McCartney
Recorded: 6 June, 26 November 1962
Producer: George Martin
Engineer: Norman Smith

Released: 11 January 1963 (UK), 25 February 1963 (US)

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

Available on:
Please Please Me
On Air - Live At The BBC Volume 2

Ask Me Why was first released as the b-side of The Beatles' second single Please Please Me in 1963. Later that year it appeared on the album of the same name.

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The song was written in the spring of 1962. As Paul McCartney recounted in Many Years From Now:

It was John's original idea and we both sat down and wrote it together, just did a job on it. It was mostly John's.
Paul McCartney
Many Years From Now, Barry Miles

Ask Me Why was greatly influenced by Smokey Robinson and the Miracles - the guitar motif that introduces the song is derived from their 1961 song What's So Good About Goodbye.

In the studio

The Beatles recorded an unknown number of takes of Ask Me Why during their 6 June 1962 debut session at Abbey Road. Unfortunately EMI considered the songs to be of little consequence, and later destroyed the master tapes.

They remade the song in November 1962, getting it right in six takes. Much of the day was spent perfecting Please Please Me; Ask Me Why took comparatively little time to record.

24 responses on “Ask Me Why

    1. Joe Post author

      I believe the tape was destroyed/erased by EMI before The Beatles became successful. The Beatles definitely recorded it though, according to the studio paperwork. See Mark Lewisohn’s Chronicle or Sessions books for more info.

    2. Aaron

      To these ears, the version that appears as the B-side of Please Please Me IS the June 1962 version featuring Pete Best. The drumming sounds EXACTLY like Pete Best.

  1. SD

    George is also singing backing vocals. Listen to it for example at 0:18 where you can hear two voices (George’s is the lower one) behind John’s lead vocal.

    1. Gilbert

      What you are hearing is the same guitar: John’s Gibson Acoustic-Electric. On the left channel is the sound of the guitar plugged to an amplifier, while on the right channel the sound of the plectrum strumming across the strings leaked into John’s vocal microphone. It’s a nice, if unintended, stereo effect.

  2. Hendrik

    As John often used to say when a new song was needed: “How do we go from here”, Ask Me Why begins where P.S. I Love You ends. The ending of P.S. I Love You is the beginning of Ask Me Why. To me the feel of the song reminds me of German popmusic of that time. It is one of my favorites.

    1. johnlennonsrhythmguitar

      I agree that One After 909 would have been a good fit here. However, not at the expense of Ask Me Why. My vote would go to A Taste Of Honey, it’s so awfully out of place it isn’t funny. Ask Me Why is one of the best songs on this album

  3. James Ferrell

    Although I was around for the start of Beatlemania in the US, I never heard this song until much later because the original Please Please Me/Ask Me Why single didn’t sell, and the version of the PPM single that finally did sell had From Me to You as its B side. It wasn’t on Vee Jay’s “Introducing the Beatles” either, which I owned (although it was on Capitol’s near-equivalent “The Early Beatles”). I don’t think I ever even heard AMW until I bought the 2009 box set and finally had a copy of the British Please Please Me CD.

    Paul tries a walking bass line in the middle 8 of this one, and in middle 8 of “A Taste of Honey” as well. I don’t find it very effective in either of these songs, but man he sure uses the same idea to great effect later on “All My Loving” and “Eight Days a Week”.

  4. Anthony

    I have always loved this song. One of the first Beatles songs I learned how to play.
    John’s usage of his falsetto range is awesome. As with most of his songs, he controls the emotion and intensity of his voice so well.

    You can certainly hear how the Beatles evolved from this song. The guitar rhythm, harmony phrases, and stop and go breaks which were expanded upon and perfected on later songs.

    I also love how the last resolving chord is played!

  5. Johan cavalli

    Typical Lennon with three long wonderful notes “…ask me why…”. Wonderful is even the start of the middle part with a +chord, just before “…I can´t believe…”

  6. David Reynolds

    I would like to say that I have completely changed my opinion of this song. I find these days when I think of a Beatles song, it just pops into my head. To answer a previous critic, I am a muso.

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