I Need You

Help! album artworkWritten by: Harrison
Recorded: 15, 16 February 1965
Producer: George Martin
Engineer: Norman Smith

Released: 6 August 1965 (UK), 13 August 1965 (US)

George 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

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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.

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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 Beatles recorded the rhythm track of I Need You in five takes on 15 February 1965 - the first day of recording for what was to become the Help! album.

The line-up was unusual, and documented by George Martin in his detailed session notes (originally published in his limited edition book Playback). Harrison played a Spanish guitar and McCartney was on his usual Hofner bass, but Starr created a percussive rhythm on the back of a Gibson Jumbo acoustic guitar. Lennon, meanwhile, played the snare drum on beats two and four throughout the song.

The backing 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.
George Harrison

19 responses on “I Need You

  1. Bill

    This song & “Don’t Bother Me” are 2 of George’s earliest compositions, & still 2 of my favorites by him… Sorry, but his later Indian stuff left me cold.

  2. Jay

    Trough the years. I always thought that George used a volume pedal on this song. I’m amused to read here that John controls George’s guitar volume knob while strumming the part/chord A – A9 – Asus4 – A. 🙂

  3. Ian

    Lennon seems to have had a hand in writing “I Need You” and “You Like Me Too Much”, spending the night before Starr’s wedding finishing the two songs with Harrison:

    …Ritchie and…Maureen tied the knot on 11 February 1965…George and John dared to arrive on a bicycle, looking surprisingly alert considering that he and John had been up most of the night polishing off two of his compositions for possible inclusion on the soundtrack of HELP!…
    Alan Clayson, RINGO STARR, p99

    “Well it was four-thirty in the morning when we got to bed, and we had to be up at six-thirty–what a fantastic time.”
    Harrison in Alan Clayson, THE QUIET ONE, p168
    (and Record Mirror, January 1, 1966)

  4. Frank DiSalle

    The slow whole-note backup vocals by John and Paul are exquisite, and provide a great deal of the melancholy feel that mentioned above.

    That musical genius, my friend… saying so much by doing so little!

    (Similar accolades for their wonderful backup singing on “I’m Happy Just to Dance With You”)

  5. Kenny Miles

    I always felt “I Need You by George Harrison” was spoken over the end credits of Help because in AHDN “all songs by Lennon/McCartney” was credited even tho “Don’t Bother Me” be George was included in the disco scene.

  6. yvonne

    I love I need you its just awesome cos back at school I sang it at a concert with a partner who gave me butterflies wow wonder where he would be right now memories beautiful schooldays

  7. Steamboat1874

    One of the things I do here at my office is every time a Beatles song comes on Little Steven’s Underground Garage on Sirius XM I jump over here and read about the song while listening. Very informative.

  8. Jim

    I love this song. I could never figure out what that background instrument was. It almost sounds like an accordion until the end when it does sound like a guitar. Glad I came here to find that out.

  9. Graham Paterson

    I first heard this song on”Love Songs” compilation and instantly loved it.Later got it on the album it was originally off “Help!”. Fine George Harrison composition, love the words, his vocal delivery and 12 string electric guitar on this. As some one else pointed out Harrison was a great melody writer. Love this in the film “Help!”.

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