Please Please Me album artworkWritten by: Gerry Goffin/Carole King
Recorded: 11 February 1963
Producer: George Martin
Engineer: Norman Smith

Released: 22 March 1963 (UK), 10 January 1964 (US)

Available on:
Please Please Me
Bootleg Recordings 1963
On Air – Live At The BBC Volume 2

Personnel

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

Written by the Brill Building songwriting team of Gerry Goffin and Carole King, ‘Chains’ was recorded during the 13-hour session of 11 February 1963 in which The Beatles recorded the bulk of the Please Please Me album.

‘Chains’ had been a minor hit in 1962 for The Cookies, Little Eva’s backing singers. Although not a huge commercial success, the song was frequently covered by Liverpudlian bands of the time.

‘Chains’ remained in The Beatles’ live repertoire for only a short time, however, and was jettisoned once they assembled a superior set of their own songs. They did, however, record it for several BBC radio shows.

BBC recordings

The first BBC recording of ‘Chains’ was made on 16 January 1963, for the Here We Go show. The Beatles also taped new versions of ‘Please Please Me’, ‘Ask Me Why’, and ‘Three Cool Cats’.

They next recorded it on 1 April 1963, for the Side By Side show. This version of ‘Chains’ was included on the 2013 digital album Bootleg Recordings 1963, along with the same day’s recordings of ‘Long Tall Sally’, ‘A Taste Of Honey’, and ‘Boys’. Versions of ‘Thank You Girl’ and ‘From Me To You’ from the same day remain unreleased.

The third and fourth BBC recordings of ‘Chains’ were both for the Pop Go The Beatles programme. The first of these was done in a 17 June 1963 session, in which they also recorded versions of ‘Anna (Go To Him)’, ‘I Saw Her Standing There’, ‘Boys’, ‘PS I Love You’, ‘Twist And Shout’, and ‘A Taste Of Honey’.

This third version of ‘Chains’ was included on 2013’s On Air – Live At The BBC Volume 2, as was ‘Boys’ and ‘PS I Love You’. ‘Anna (Go To Him)’ was one of the songs issued on Bootleg Recordings 1963.

The Beatles’ final BBC recording of ‘Chains’ was made on 17 September 1963 for Pop Go The Beatles. It was also included on Bootleg Recordings 1963, along with versions of ‘You Really Got A Hold On Me’ and ‘Boys’ from the same day.

That BBC session also saw The Beatles record a version of ‘’, which was included on On Air – Live At The BBC Volume 2. That day’s versions of ‘Misery’ and ‘From Me To You’ remain unreleased.

In the studio

The Beatles recorded four takes of ‘Chains’ for the Please Please Me album, with the first attempt deemed the best.

George Harrison sang lead vocals – the first of two Please Please Me songs in which he took centre stage – with Lennon and McCartney providing backing harmonies.

John Lennon played the harmonica introduction, and the song was faded out during the album’s edit session on 25 February.

Lyrics

Chains, my baby’s got me locked up in chains
And they ain’t the kind that you can see
Whoa, oh, these chains of love got a hold on me, yeah

Chains, well I can’t break away from these chains
Can’t run around, ’cause I’m not free
Whoa, oh, these chains of love won’t let me be, yeah

I wanna tell you, pretty baby
I think you’re fine
I’d like to love you
But, darling, I’m imprisoned by these

Chains, my baby’s got me locked up in chains
And they ain’t the kind that you can see
Oh, oh, these chains of love got a hold on me

Please believe me when I tell you
Your lips are sweet
I’d like to kiss them
But I can’t break away from all of these

Chains, my baby’s got me locked up in chains
And they ain’t the kind that you can see
Whoa, oh, these chains of love got a hold on me, yeah

Chains, chains of love…