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), 22 July 1963 (US)

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

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

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.

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The song 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.

It 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, including Pop Go The Beatles, Side By Side and Here We Go.

The Beatles recorded four takes of the song, although the first was deemed to be 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.


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...

23 responses on “Chains

      1. Happiness is a warm gun

        “Anna” sucks, I agree, but the dreadful line “And they ain’t the kind that you can see” just makes it impossible for me to listen to this song any further than that.

  1. M. Whitener

    It’s a typical filler song, but I see why it was given to George. It couldve gone to anybody not named Ringo & been about the same. It wasn’t one of their best cover choices, but it goes well with his voice & it’s a good chance to get George in the mix. If all else failed, which it didn’t, the harmonies are good.

  2. David Lee Fairey

    George’s voice retains its huskiness from all those gigs played in the Cavern and elsewhere. And that’s why I like Chains – it’s full of youthful exuberance – the boys’ excitement is clearly audible.

    And as M. Whitener says above, the harmonies are good.

    But is that an organ I can hear just before the second bridge (“I want to tell you pretty baby..”)? Sounds like someone sweeping their hand across the keyboard.

    1. ForgetScowl

      It’s the Beatles demonstration of mastering the sound style of those Brill Building songs or Motown, Chuck Berry, Little Richard, etc. They loved American music to the core. They embraced those depths as treasure and surfaced with the details & nuances as bounty. They brought back to America what they were given and they did it with wit & style which means that just about everything they did in those early days was outstanding.

  3. cdesim

    Love the way the guitar amp breaks up throughout this recording. I don’t think this was an effect they went after and perhaps if they weren’t so busy they may have redone it, but it remained their grittiest record until the “Revolution” single five years later.

    1. Gringo

      absolutely.. i wondered why nobody ever comments on that , the Guitar is devastating when it comes in….I never really figured out if it was John or George’s amp that goes on the blinker…..

  4. Bill

    You have to remember, when The Beatles were still a club band, not only did they play what they liked, but they also played the hits of the day, and in the early ’60’s, girl groups were quite popular. To a point, you have to compromise & play something for the audience too. When this was cut, the boys were not yet the world-shakers they later became. Once they hit it big, songs like this were dropped. You never saw them returning to songs like “I’ll Remember You”, “Beautiful Dreamer” or “A Picture Of You ” either.

  5. Bill

    To expand on this, once they became famous, the majority of their pre-fame stage repertoire was never returned to, as far as commercially-released recordings were concerned, anyway.

  6. Nico (@NicoDetourn)

    Say what you will of the song’s objective quality, what can’t be denied is how much the Cookies’ original version of Chains, produced by co-writer Gerry Goffin, contains so many aspects that we think of as characteristically Beatles.

    That “yeah” at the end of each chorus, the arrangement of the harmonies, the feel of the lead vocal (listen to those bridges), the drum fills, are shockingly “Beatles.”

    It’s wrong to suggest that they either preformed or recorded these songs out of a compromise obligation to cover the hits of the day. Lenmac obviously loved and emulated this stuff and absorbed it into their DNA. Takes nothing away from their fabness to acknowledge that. They were never shy about it.

    The Beatles learned some of their best moves from the girl groups.. and their songwriters… and their producers.



  7. Che Stadium

    Bad lyrics were then, and are now, a dime a dozen. Who cares?! It’s an excellent performance, listen to Ringo’s groove. That hi-hat! Those fills!

  8. Night of the Living Ted

    Any legitimate criticism has to be taken in context with the time frame in which this was recorded. In other words, given what we know today, we can’t accurately look at this through the lens of 1963. At that time – it was pretty groundbreaking stuff.

  9. Anthony

    I’ve never enjoyed this song. I’ve tried countless times to warm up to it but just can’t do it.
    The song itself is not special by any means and it is no surprise that it was never a commercial success.

    As mentioned above by Nico, the Beatles soaked in what they learned with their covers and created Beatles music.
    As a somewhat professional musician myself, I know that most songs you write are going to undoubtly draw from things you’ve listened to or covered.

    So in conclusion, as much as I dislike this song, it clearly was one of the many tunes that taught the Beatles the groundwork for their own material.

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