PersonnelGeorge Harrison: vocals, acoustic guitar, 12-string electric guitar
John Lennon: harmony vocals, acoustic guitar, snare drum
Paul McCartney: harmony vocals, bass guitar
Ringo Starr: acoustic guitar percussion, cowbell
The second of George Harrison’s songs to be recorded by The Beatles, ‘I Need You’ was featured in the film Help! and appeared on its soundtrack LP.
A simple, rather melancholic love song, ‘I Need You’ was written for Harrison’s future wife Pattie Boyd. It appeared in the Help! film during the Salisbury Plain sequence, along with ‘The Night Before’.
In the studio
The line-up was unusual, and documented by George Martin in his detailed session notes (originally published in his limited edition book Playback). George Harrison played a Spanish guitar and Paul McCartney was on his usual Hofner bass, but Ringo Starr created a percussive rhythm on the back of a Gibson Jumbo acoustic guitar. John Lennon, meanwhile, played the snare drum on beats two and four throughout the song.
The backing of ‘I Need You’ was recorded onto track one of the tape. Harrison’s guide vocals were recorded at the same time onto track two. More guide vocals, with Harrison joined occasionally by McCartney, were added to track three; and track four contained further vocals from the pair, with cowbell by Starr.
Track four was wiped the next day, and Harrison added a new lead vocal part, with harmonies from Lennon and McCartney. Harrison’s guide vocals on track two were replaced with more vocals from Lennon and McCartney, as well as cowbell by Starr and Harrison’s Rickenbacker 12-string guitar, the latter played using a volume foot pedal. The effect was used again for ‘Yes It Is’ during the same recording session.
I could never coordinate it. So some of those, what we do is, I played the part, and John would kneel down in front of me and turn my guitar’s volume control.