If I Fell

A Hard Day's Night album artworkWritten by: Lennon-McCartney
Recorded: 27 February 1964
Producer: George Martin
Engineer: Norman Smith

Released: 10 July 1964 (UK), 26 June 1964 (US)

John Lennon: vocals, acoustic rhythm guitar
Paul McCartney: vocals, bass
George Harrison: electric guitar
Ringo Starr: drums

Available on:
A Hard Day's Night
On Air - Live At The BBC Volume 2

If I Fell was a ballad primarily written by John Lennon, which first appeared on the A Hard Day's Night film and soundtrack.

Download on iTunes

The song was a collaboration between Lennon and McCartney, with Lennon taking the lead.

That's my first attempt to write a ballad proper. That was the precursor to In My Life. It has the same chord sequence as In My Life: D and B minor and E minor, those kinds of things. And it's semi-autobiographical, but not consciously. It shows that I wrote sentimental love ballads, silly love songs, way back when.
John Lennon
All We Are Saying, David Sheff

The Beatles mimed to If I Fell during the A Hard Day's Night film. The scene takes place while the crew are setting up equipment prior to The Beatles' 'studio performance'. Amusingly, Lennon sings the love song to Starr.

The song became a part of The Beatles' live repertoire in 1964. As the only ballad performed by the group at the time, it often suffered for their inability to hear themselves above the screams of Beatlemaniacs.

The live versions were typically faster than the studio recording. Bootleg recordings also often show Lennon and McCartney vainly attempting to suppress laughter while singing the song - occasionally it was jokingly introduced as If I Fell Over.

The Beatles recorded If I Fell twice for BBC radio. The first was taped on 14 July 1964 at Broadcasting House, London, and was transmitted two days later on the Top Gear programme. The second performance took place on 17 July at the BBC Paris Studio, London, and was first broadcast on 3 August. Neither rendition was included on the Live At The BBC collection.

John Lennon's handwritten lyrics for If I FellOn 8 April 1988 John Lennon's lyrics for If I Fell, written on the back of a Valentine's Day card, were sold at Sotheby's in London for £7,800.

People tend to forget that John wrote some pretty nice ballads. People tend to think of him as an acerbic wit and aggressive and abrasive, but he did have a very warm side to him really which he didn't like to show too much in case he got rejected. We wrote If I Fell together but with the emphasis on John because he sang it. It was a nice harmony number, very much a ballad.
Paul McCartney
Many Years From Now, Barry Miles

Among McCartney's contributions was the introduction, featuring a musical motif that appears nowhere else in the song.

I was a big fan of the preamble in my early days, which you find in lots of '50s songs. A first verse that goes: 'I was living in Kentucky when I did, did, did and I dud-dud-dud, and then I said...' [breathes in deeply]... then you break into the bit of the song you want everyone to know. One song I wrote a little after Please Please Me was my best attempt at a preamble: If I Fell. [Sings] 'If I fell in love with you, would you promise to be truuue...' Then after the line, 'just holding hands', the song properly gets going. [Raises voice] That's it, everyone!
Paul McCartney
Q Magazine, May 2013

In the studio

If I Fell was recorded in 15 takes on 27 February 1964. On the same day they also recorded Tell Me Why and the second and final remake of And I Love Her.

The song's acoustic introduction - which is not repeated elsewhere in the song, musically or lyrically - made its first appearance on take 11. However, home demos recorded by Lennon early in 1964 contained the passage.

The two-part harmony vocals was sung by Lennon and McCartney into a single microphone. Lennon took the low harmony, allowing McCartney to dominate the verses.

Chart success

If I Fell was the third song on the UK version of the A Hard Day's Night album, which was released on 10 July 1964.

The US soundtrack LP was issued on 26 June. If I Fell was also the b-side of the And I Love Her single, which reached number 12 in the Billboard chart.

If I Fell performed better in Norway, where it was a chart-topping single in its own right.

A rare UK single, with Tell Me Why on the b-side, was pressed in the UK by EMI and released on 4 December 1964. It was made for export purposes, but a number of record dealers began shipping the discs back into the UK for resale. The catalogue number was Parlophone DP 562.

77 responses on “If I Fell

  1. AlbertCunning

    “That’s my first attempt to write a ballad proper. In My Life was the first one that worked as a ballad. This one has the same chord sequence – just around D and D minor and E minor, those kinds of things. It is semi-autobiographical. It is really about this girl – not about Cyn. It has an intro like a Fifties song: “If I fell in love with you, would you promise to be true and help me understand…” Paul may have helped with the middle eight. So that shows I wrote sentimental love ballads, silly love songs, way back then.”

    Just wondering: Where did you find this quote of John’s? I have the book ‘All we are saying’, by David Sheff — which is basically just a long version of the Playboy interview John did just weeks before he died — and what he says about his then wife, and, for me, more interestingly, Paul’s input, isn’t mentioned in the book at all.

    Have you been given access to David Sheff’s original tapes?

    I originally found this one to be one of those songs John and Paul disagreed over when it comes to writing-credits, but given what you have written is true, it seems that they are basically on the same wavelength — which of course DID happen from time to time…

    1. Joe Post author

      I wish I had access to David Sheff’s tapes! I need to come clean here, though. I wrote this article before I had bought the Sheff book, and you’re right – that full quote isn’t there. I don’t know if it was in the original Playboy edition in 1980, but I suspect that All We Are Saying pretty much contains everything Lennon said in the interviews.

      I’ve corrected the quote, to the one on pages 194-5 in David Sheff’s excellent book. The previous version, which you mentioned, was taken from the rec.music.beatles newsgroup, but the person who posted it did say: “I think I got it from a Playboy interview somewhere”. So I shouldn’t have been quite so careless when reproducing it!

  2. AlbertCunning

    If we suggest John_did_state that Paul may have helped with the middle eight, that wouldn’t really make too much sense, because the song doesn’t have a middle eight; although — as I’ve mentioned before — John was never too much into the technicalities of music.

    …unless we assume that he meant the section that goes: “…her, ’cause I couldn’t stand the pain, and I would be sad if I knew love was in vain.”

    That section actually HAS eight bars.

    About David Sheff’s tape:

    He appears to have listened to it.

    Although, John — seemingly — taking credit for ‘Two of Us’ is on page 204 in my version of ‘All We are Saying’.

  3. AlbertCunning

    On YouTube there is a demo of John doing ‘If I Fell’, where the section I’ve already mentioned appears to be a bit different melodically.
    Slightly different chords used, as well.

    I think I’m on to something here.
    [While others, I guess, will think I’m just ON something.]

  4. Matt

    One of my favorite bits about this song is that if you listen to the LP, Paul’s voice cracks on the second “was in vain”.

    This was fixed digitally for the CD release, which I honestly think was unnecessary and gratuitious.

    1. steve

      just to expand on matt’s comment – paul’s voice cracks on the stereo version of if i fell, the mono version is a different take, with perfect vocal – one of those odd fabs mono / stereo oddities (see please please me as an example)

      1. Happy Nat

        Actually the mono was just ‘repaired’ by copying and pasting Paul’s earlier vocal of “in vain” over the second one. Not sure why they didn’t do that on the stereo mix. Maybe it was just an oversite. The stereo mixes had less importance at the time.

        1. J. Brown

          You’re all wrong. The original take was where Paul cracked. When they overdubbed, it was sung correctly. If you listen to the mono mix, the original vocal is mixed out and just the single track overdub is heard.

          1. Happiness is a warm gun

            I can’t claim to know which of you are correct, but on the 2009 mono re-mix (which I’m listening to right now on pro quality headphones) something is odd about it–the sound of Paul’s voice warbles a little on that 2nd “in vain”. It definitely is a different take than from the previous “in vain” and from the one where his voice cracks. But that warble doesn’t sound like it’s his voice, but either a problem with the original tape or it’s been manipulated later somehow, or both. I haven’t heard the original mono LP version isn over 20 years so I don’t recall if that warble was there or not. But if it is, it may be due to the quality of the original tape of that take being compromised somehow. And if so, that’s possibly why they had to keep the cracked version in the stereo mix (which is kept on the 2009 re-mix–I double-checked).

            1. ken

              Having been in a recording studio I am familiar with the sound of a “punch in” where one recorded track with a mistake is re-recorded live and at some point the engineer pushes the record button to start laying down the new track. It usually happens on a beat to other so it is not obvious.

              I have always heard it on this song in the middle of the word “hope” which occurs after Paul’s voice cracked on “vain”. If you listen carefully you can hear that the voices sound suddenly different on the second beat during the word “hope”. There is a slight volume and balance shift suggesting it was a new take.

              Here’s what might have happened: Paul’s voice started to strain and he ended up stopping during the take later in the song (to cough or whatever). George Martin spun the tape back and told them to start singing again and at that moment- for whatever reason- he “punched in” the new recording. I don’t know why her would do it there; it’s just that it sounds like a punch in to my ears..

    2. BeatleBug

      Indeed it does! I have the 2009 Stereo remaster CD of AHDN (which I’ve– metaphorically– worn the grooves out on) and I used to cringe in sympathy every time the fifth verse came round (it is a pretty high note), but now I kind of like it. It goes to show that even the almighty Paul McCartney’s voice cracks sometimes. 🙂 I wonder how that got past George Martin?

      1. Julian

        It’s a stereo mix. At the time WAY less important than mono mixes. There wasn’t much attention to it, as not a lot of people were gonna have stereo records anyway in 1964.

  5. BeatleMark

    The vocal harmonies to me are quite impressive. Being a guitar player and this being one of the songs I know by heart, it is hard to stay in the same vocal key as John without venturing into Paul’s.

    1. DavidBeatleGuitar

      Totally agree… It was hard to get a perfect take of me singing john and playing at the same time without going to paul… Specially on “two… cause I couln’t stand…”

  6. carlos gutman

    To me is 90 % John´s song. I have the original mono vinyl (1964) and there´s no crack in Paul´s “in vain”, and I have a stereo vynil copy too (1978) where Paul´s voice DOES crack. My little contribution.

  7. Rachel

    Paul: “We wrote If I Fell together but with the emphasis on John because he sang it.”

    Reality: “We sang If I Fell together but with the emphasis on John because he wrote it.”

    One of the more charitable passages in his book, giving John full singing credit on a song with shared vocals. The emphasis on John had to come from somewhere, after all.

    1. paulsbass

      In case you are quoting “Many years from now”:
      I’m SICK of people claiming Paul downsized any of John’s contributions. There is nothing “charitable” about his comment or any other.

      And anyone who works together with someone else will acknowledge that it’s sometimes hard to tell afterwards who did excactly what, especially who’s idea was it first.

      So it’s just Paul proving his point:
      John is doing the lead vocal (when there is one, e.g. the intro), so he was the main songwriter. But it was obviously a close collaboration, since they do almost all vocals together.

      Why is this concept so hard to get for so many people?!
      Listen to who sings what and you have the songwriting credits right there (ALMOST always).

      1. Rachel

        I agree that who does the singing is almost always the main composer(s) of the song. However, wouldn’t you agree that Two of Us, sung by both John and Paul, was not a songwriting collaboration but was, in fact, Paul’s song?

        I would like to add that I agree with Paul when he says about this song, “People tend to forget that John wrote some pretty nice ballads.” He then says that they wrote it together. I might agree with that too if he’d only state what his contribution was. What percentage did he give himself? If it was something like 40%, his contribution would be significant enough to remember.

        1. paulsbass

          Read my post: ALMOST always. You even agreed on that.
          Nuff said.

          I don’t seem to get what your problem is.
          Do you actually think Paul is lying?

          As for percentage:
          He says it was a coop with emphasis on John, obviously meaning something like 40-60.
          In fact, the intro chords are really tricky, sounds more like Paul to me. But I can be wrong, I wasn’t there.

          1. Rachel

            John sings the lead in the intro, so he wrote that for sure like you said before. Paul didn’t say he wrote those chords. I expect he would have if it were true. 40% sounds a little steep to me, seeing as he was so vague about his input. I distinctly recall that 60-40 was also what he gave for Norwegian Wood. According to John, Paul’s contribution on that one was the line about lighting a fire. At least John was specific (e.g., the “I love you, I love you, I love you…” middle section in Michelle which he says was his. Did Paul give him 40% on that song? I’ll give Paul credit for being specific about his contribution to Help (the counter melody). Therefore, I’ll take his word for it in that instance.

            I don’t know if I’d call it lying simply because his lack of specifics makes it impossible to cross-check with info from other sources. Just skewing John’s songs a bit much in his favor while being conservative with his own songs. The reason I’m making a big deal about this is because Many Years From Now was intended to “set the record straight” according to Paul, and people take it as the last word on the Lennon-McCartney collaboration despite the fact that John is no longer around to confirm/dispute any of it. Believe me, I loved the time when I could listen to Beatles records without caring who wrote what because the songs were almost always good whether they were John’s or Paul’s. Knowing that the person who sang it wrote it was enough for me. It showed that it was indeed an equal partnership. It’s a shame Paul couldn’t just leave it at that, as if being considered equal wasn’t enough.

            1. David

              Given the number of songs they were developing at any one time, it’s ridiculous to assume they would remember accurately, years or decades later, exactly who came up with what. And don’t forget how many musical ideas or lyrics fell by the wayside during the writing or recording process. (Occasionally, the Anthology versions of some songs show them going quite a long way with an idea they then scrapped, such as the “somehow, someway” line in Got to Get You Into My Life on Anthology 2.)

              I was involved in “teamwork” translation (that’s my job) for many years, and when I used to read something back after even just a few weeks, I honestly couldn’t remember if it was my draft that my partner had revised, my partner’s draft that I had revised, something half-finished by one that the other then finished off, or an “eyeball to eyeball” job. And that’s just boring corporate translation! When you’re talking about some of the greatest songs ever written by two of the most brilliant songwriters ever, who collaborated not only as writers but also as lead singers, backup and harmony singers and musicians, obviously the lines are going to be blurred. And that’s before you take into account the substances that may have been being ingested at the same time!
              Rachel seems obsessed with percentages. It’s impossible to say whose chord structures, melody lines, lyrics, harmonies, arrangements and production values constitute what percentage! Let’s just agree that If I Fell is 100% brilliant.

  8. Kendall

    I really admire Paul: however, this is John’s song entirely…the evidence is conclusive beyond ANY doubt…the song lyric, except for part of one line, is completely finished on John’s Home demo that ended up in the hands of the Beatles’ Chauffeur Alf Bicknell….later, John polished the one line in the lyric and that exists as well;and clearly, he wrote all of the music to this song, on his own, stem to stern….the chords in the demo are IDENTICAL to that on the finished record with one major exception: it was written in a different key on a guitar tuned down a whole step. On the demo, the first chord is F#m (Em if you’re in standard tuning). On the released Beatles version, the first chord is Ebm…to my mind, the greatest opening bars to any Beatles Ballad…This is, I believe, the greatest ballad on ANY record… let alone Beatles record…and this is where Paul comes in…Paul’s contribution may have been to help John change the key (lowering the pitch a half-step) thereby making it more suitable for the incomparable two-part harmony….Paul probably created his vocal part; however, this is an ARRANGING credit (NOT a songwriting credit).

    1. paulsbass

      First: I had to laugh when I read Rachel’s comment above again…

      Second: Is it confirmed that the Demo was finished before McCartney added anything to the song?

      Third: I think it is totally ridiculous how some people obsess here about who wrote what.

      I don’t really care about how many percent belong to whom. But I don’t like people calling Paul a liar.

      1. Kendall

        I certainly didn’t call Paul a Liar; but, I can say his recollection is in error concerning THIS song. Demo tapes are composition tapes…anyone will tell you that…you commit a song to tape either when your in the process of composing or to transcribe what you just wrote so as not to forget it…Paul and John have demos circulating that show them doing one or the other…both John and Paul have lapses in memory concerning certain songs..this is understandable. To date,no demo tape circulates of a song that they are in the process of writing together….”Michelle” and “We Can Work It Out” exist as Paul demos….however, both are missing the middle parts that John contributed later….these are “Home Demos”…solo efforts…and, “If I Fell” is complete on John’s demo to the extent I mentioned earlier…he deserves the full credit for this song: the different key signature on the demo is the clincher for the melody and chord structure…you can’t underestimate that…it makes it conclusive…and, of course, the lyrics are there as well….the only things missing are the two-part harmony and the change of key (which are questions concerning the arrangement…)…

        1. HarpoSpoke

          A demo isn’t proof of anything. A song can either be finished or in progress when something is recorded. There are no rules on that. To assign some standard and assume every single demo the Beatles ever recorded was at the same stage of development is not logical.

          1. Kendall Miller

            Huh?… that’s nonsense. WORKING demos are composition tapes; and, alongside contemporary dated material, they are proof of everything relating to a songs creation. If you wrote songs, you’d readily understand that…I listed specific examples of Paul-centric songs that were unfinished in their “stages of development.” These are HOME cassette demos…every last one of them represents a solo effort from John, Paul and George. As I stated earlier, there are ZERO Beatles songs, in demo form, that are examples of collaboration…they are all solo efforts on the tapes (as you would expect!…you’re at YOUR home, making a demo!): either finished entirely (like Paul’s “Fixing A Hole” or John’s equally-finished “If I Fell”) or songs awaiting help (i.e. I gave you two of Paul’s unfinished tunes previously: “Michelle” and “We Can Work It Out”….add to that “Everybody Had a Hard Year”…John’s contribution to “I’ve Got A Feeling” which exists as a solo demo). You say there are no “rules” on that…well, there is a little thing called logic you’ve run up against here. You’d have to provide some evidence to support your claim. Incidentally, as far as I can tell from this thread, not one person has made the claim you suggest (i.e. “To assign some standard and assume every single demo the Beatles ever recorded was at the same stage of development is not logical.”)…in fact, only the opposite has been suggested…

      2. JohnPaulGeorgeRingo

        see what he say in 2013 about the song…he basically claims its his own song…Paul: “I was a big fan of the preamble in my early days, which you find in lots of ’50s songs. A first verse that goes: ‘I was living in Kentucky when I did, did, did and I dud-dud-dud, and then I said…’ [breathes in deeply]… then you break into the bit of the song you want everyone to know. One song I wrote a little after Please Please Me was my best attempt at a preamble: If I Fell. [Sings] ‘If I fell in love with you, would you promise to be truuue…’ Then after the line, ‘just holding hands’, the song properly gets going. [Raises voice] That’s it, everyone!” even takes credit of please please me which is also a lennon number…lennon took credit wrongly on eleanor rigby but thats about the only one

        1. Baggio

          I find Paul’s comments in regards to his contributions to songs that are predominantly John’s sometimes vague and inconsistent. I think what he really meant was: “One preamble I wrote a little after the Please Please Me album was recorded was the one for If I Fell…”.

          For the record, I don’t think Paul wrote even the preamble by himself. John sang most songs on “A Hard Day’s Night” and if Paul had wrote that bit I think he’d have sung it. Plus if Paul had written this alone and they both wrote the rest together it would mean this is more a Paul song, but Paul himself claimed this is more John’s song (i.e. “John could write nice ballads”, “emphasis on John”).

          Additionally, the demo does sound like a composition demo (John switches between what became his vocals and Paul’s) and it seems like John had pretty much everything on this one (it sounds great by the way!).

          I think both John and Paul made mistakes on their recollections – it has more to do with the amount of songs they composed/time elapsed/drugs than ill intent. I don’t think John wrote Eleanor Rigby and I don’t think Paul contributed significantly on this one.

          We’ll never know it for sure though. So all we have left is their legacy to listen and enjoy.

  9. Charlie

    Paul does not seem shy about claiming credits on John songs, especially the Beatlemania hits on which John sings, and which John said that he wrote. On the other hand, Paul does give some credit to John for tracks like Paperback Writer and Magical Mystery Tour (the song). The John “VERSUS” Paul bit might come more from Barry Miles than from McCartney – and that is another story.

  10. brian

    While it may be a stretch to many in saying so, I think this is the very first time John intentionally refers to a previous Beatles composition in a song with the line “and I found that love was more than just holding hands” – a clear reference, I think, to “I Want To Hold Your Hand”.

    1. BeatleBug

      That’s what I thought, too, when I first heard (and fell in love with) it. It may not have been entirely deliberate– sometimes you just come up with a line and it’s only afterwards you go, “Oh, that’s good, it could be referring to such-and-such.”

      (I don’t sound like Sir Paul, do I?)

  11. Pavel (Russia)

    What do you think:

    I must be sure from the very start
    that you would love me more than her

    Do these lines tell us that girl should sing that? Or is this a Liverpool slang and grammatically it should be “You would love me more that SHE DID”?

  12. AlExiy

    Dear moderator, there is in Russia one site like yours. There is one topic in russian site http://music-facts.ru/song/The_Beatles/If_I_Fell/

    Main aim the discussion is to decide from what person The Beatles sing this song, I mean sex – from boy or from girl? It is simple for native english speaking peoples? But not for us. Help us to solve this problem any way. Many Thanks.

    By the way, author of last post Pavel is from our society.

    1. John E Conner

      I have been playing these songs since they came out. Every new song or album was a new guitar lesson..One thing about this song not mentioned here is that the actual melody line switches back and forth between John and Paul. Whenever they are both singing, Paul seems to have the lead melody and John is doing a low harmony. In places the jump John has to do is almost awkward but he pulls it off quite well as in. “see that I WOULD LOVE TO LOVE YOU, and that she….” Anyway, it’s something you notice when you work it out with a band.

    2. metzgermeister77

      The correct way to render the line in English would be “I must be sure from the very start that you would love me more than she,” but most native English speakers don’t have such a precise grasp of the language, and even if they did, to say it that way sounds stuffy. So “love me more than her” is understood to mean “love me more than she does.”

  13. Matte H

    “One song I wrote a little after Please Please Me was my best attempt at a preamble (…)
    Paul McCartney
    Q Magazine, May 2013”

    So now Paul claims that he wrote this one all by himself?

  14. Jay

    Just finished reading the discussions here about this song.
    I think this song is an equal collaboration…
    Just an observation guys. John sang alone on the intro. And they sang together (John & Paul) onwards on the entire song.
    Have anyone noticed that Paul is actually singing the melody & John is singing the lower harmony?
    My point is, if this song was of John’s majority, why is Paul singing the melody?
    Please don’t get me wrong. I’m not on a Paul vs John or John vs Paul argument ( I love them both) 🙂
    On the lyrics, maybe it’s more of John’s… but on the whole, I think the two contributed almost equally.

    1. BeatleBug

      Yes, it’s because Paul’s voice is higher than John’s and so naturally he’d do the higher harmony, some of the notes being too high for John to sing. Just like on the bridge of “A Hard Day’s Night”. Just an observation… but when there are harmonies involved, Paul ALMOST always takes the higher.

      “Oh, I get high with a little help from my friends…”

  15. James Ferrell

    If I Fell is one of my favorites from AHDN, and maybe my favorite John + Paul 2-part harmonies in the Beatles’ canon. It’s a beautiful, affecting song.

    Harmonically it remind me a bit of Do You Want to Know a Secret–the three chromatically descending minor chords over the “doo dah doo” in DYWTOAS are used, to good end, over the “with you” part of IIF. And both songs have preambles and similar tempos.

  16. Baggio

    A “sister” song to the great “And I Love her” – I think “If I Fell” is even better than that.
    The harmony vocals here are amazing – John’s vocals in particular are very hard to sing!

  17. Jullius Lenar

    Are you guys talking about a song from 50 years ago. We get it, if you love john, you look and try to point out all of johns greatness etc….If you love Paul, you point out everything Paul did and try to spin it. The only thing I have noticed is that Paul always contributed to songs in the studio and most certainly this type of song he would of contributed. Also, I notice how people try to minimize Paul’s contributions to the Beatles songs. Lets get real and move on in life. They were great musicians and everyone added in the studio. If you people believe everything that was written or said in interviews by John Lennon then you must be all crazy because he said a lot of stuff that made nonsense, he even said a lot a bad stuff about the Beatles music and about George, Paul and producer George Martin. John Lennon was a heroin and cocaine addict that lied all the time and had Yoko manipulating him like a lot of girlfriends do. However, he has been dead for so long and most of the world doesn’t care about a crack in a voice at 0200th of a second. Come on, get with it people. ….Life goes on and Music changes and progresses and musicians change stuff all the time in a studio and then the producers change their songs when they are at home relaxing. Then the song is cut up and pasted together and harmonies added and different takes are cut together and stuff is drowned out and then they have a product to sell to people like you. Especially people that will keep buying different versions of the same song and then buy books and treat Playboy interviews as a life long interview and Holy grail. Anyhow, you get the point. GET A LIFE GUYS! Paul McCartney is the only one that actually still sings Beatles songs and has been promoting the Beatles for over 40 years by including the Beatles songs in his concerts and keeping the music in the public eye. Lennon did 1 concert after the Beatles and it was laughable. He needed a big hit of heroin before he could face the crowd, Just like Michael Jackson.

  18. Joseph Brush

    What a patronizing distorted comment! Hard core fans of this website love the Beatles warts and all with no expiry date in sight. GET OVER IT!
    For those who believe, no explanation is necessary. For those who do not believe, no explanation will suffice.

  19. wayne

    “If I Fell” is a fine song, written by John Lennon and recorded & performed by all four Beatles. “And I Love Her” is a fine song, written by Paul McCartney and recorded & performed by all four Beatles. Both songs are from The Beatles album “A Hard Day’s Night”. All this senseless bickering over “who wrote what” is maddening. Lennon has been dead for 33 1/2 years. McCartney’s memory of what did or didn’t happen at the height of Beatlemania craziness fifty years ago may or may not be a bit inaccurate. Who really cares at this point? The songs are still awesome.

  20. Dr. Winston O'Boggie

    This was written completely by John Lennon. As Lennon said in his Playboy Interviews, it was his effort at creating a ballad for ‘Hard Day’s Night’. To prove the point here, a rough demo tape of John Lennon doing this song completely by himself exists on YOUTUBE before it was ever recorded (with him singing the higher lead vocal). I really get tired of people trying to give Macca all the credit for everything — This was simply Lennon’s song 100%. See: http://www.thebeatlesrarity.com/2010/08/30/beatles-rarity-of-the-week-if-i-fell-composing-tape-jan-1964/

    1. Richard Boene

      I don’t think anyone here was trying to give McCartney all the credit for writing this song. The question that people have been debating here is really just how much he actually contributed to it. Yes, this demo does sound surprisingly close to the finished product, but I personally feel that this would only fuel the debate further. A previous commenter questioned whether this demo was recorded before McCartney had added anything to the song. The answer that was subsequently given seemed reasonable, but I doubt that it would convince everyone who would choose to believe McCartney’s claim that they did in fact write the song together. Even if that turned out to be true, it certainly wouldn’t take anything away from how great the song turned out to be. Having gone through the comments section here, I personally doubt that anything new can really be added to this debate by now.

    2. Kendall Miller

      That’s right. John wrote “If I Fell” entirely on his own…zero help from Paul in the composition (Paul’s Q Magazine interview notwihstanding…) . The demo tape, as I stated previously, is a composition tape. There would be holes in the song structure if Paul’s recollection was accurate: which it clearly is not. Listen to Paul’s demos for “Michelle” and “We Can Work It Out” (as just two typical examples). In both cases, the demos are missing John’s contributions (i.e.. “I Love you , I love You, I Loooovvvve you” and “Life is very short” respectively….). There are no demos of songs that they wrote “eyeball to eyeball”….all existing home demos are solo composition tapes ( this is vital to understanding why it’s absurd for Paul to suggest that he had a hand in writing this song…). As for Paul’s suggestion that he wrote the introduction, that’s the most absurd claim of all. Any guitarist, who has studied the chord structure in this demo, will tell you that the demo for this song proves that John wrote the introduction. It’s beyond all doubt…it’s the most illuminating part of the tape. I’d always been fascinated by the opening chord structure to this song on the LP….John starts the introduction in Ebm which is an extremely odd way to start any song composed on the guitar. At the end of the introduction, he changes the key and moves it up a half step to a “guitar-friendly” key. The introduction is nearly the best part of the song because it’s so clever and unique (and, let’s not forget…beautiful…). The demo tape reveals how John wrote the introduction. He wrote it on a guitar that was tuned down a whole step. Here is the intro and chords as heard on the demo ” If I Fell [ F#m ] in love with you, would you promise [ F ] to be true, and Help [ E ] me understand [ C#m ] ’cause I’ve been [ F#m ] in love before, and I found [ F ] that love was more, than just [ Gm…this is the half step raise in pitch ] holding hands [ C ].” Now, that the entire song is in logical guitar-friendly territory, the song resembles familiar chord structures of Lennon songs composed in the keys of E and F. And, the introduction is very similar in structure to John’s introduction (w/ a key change mind you) to “Do You Want To Know A Secret” ( key of E ). So, while I’m sure it’s true that Paul was a “big fan of the preamble in my early days,” it’s beyond dispute that John was the only composer of a preamble in their Beatle days together….As for Paul? ….to paraphrase Walter Kerr, the problem with memory is not that it forgets, it’s that it tends to create….Now, having said that, I think it’s probable that Paul acted as musical director for this song providing John with his lower pitched harmony part…John usually deferred to Paul’s suggestions and judgments in the recording studio; however, that’s not a songwriting credit, that’s a producing credit….

      1. Richard Boene


        With all due respect, I cannot help doubting that everyone who reads your comments are going to be convinced by your forceful and somewhat hyperbolic stance on this dispute even though you clearly took the time to think it out. While I can see where you’re coming from, I cannot take your claims surrounding the demo as definitive proof of Lennon having written the song by himself. The fact that it sounds more complete than some of the other demos we know of does not really clarify much about whatever standard anyone outside of the Beatles’ own circle applies to the compositional process of their songwriting other than their own thoughts and biases regarding the Beatles’ songwriting methods. For all we know it may very well have varied from song to song. And since your claims about Lennon’s writing of the introduction do not rely on any sources apart from your own observations (and I’m not sure I agree about your claim that every guitarist would agree with you since neither of us know every guitarist on planet earth) I don’t really find your claims entirely convincing. Now, I’m not saying you’re wrong about McCartney’s claims (no one here has really provided any definitive proof for either side) but the point I’m trying to make is that no matter where our biases lay, none of us really know the full account of the compositional process of this song due to many things which could be memory lapses here or biased claims there. We can only make up our own minds which you clearly have. I don’t expect to change your mind of course, but at this point what can we possibly say about this that hasn’t already been said?

        1. Kendall Miller

          Well Richard, I found your reply to be in a word: odd. Every guitarist I’ve encountered, when they see the chord structure I’ve transcribed from the demo (which is accurate), agrees with my post. It would not be sensible to think otherwise.The demo changes everything concerning our understanding of the songwriting process as it relates to this song: in particular, the recently-“disputed” introduction. I have to assume, from your post, that you’re not a guitarist. We’re dealing with the evidence before us; and, the evidence is fairly conclusive. Other than Paul’s unsubstantiated claim, there is zero evidence to support his claim of co-authorship. On the other side, we have John’s solo working demo and his handwritten original draft of the complete lyrics….Paul is not in evidence. Is it “humanly” possible that Paul might have helped a bit in writing the song? Sure. But, all of the the evidence suggests otherwise;furthermore, unlike “In My Life,” Paul never made this claim while John was still with us (and John discussed the writing of this song as a solo effort , in major interviews that Paul clearly read, on at least two occasions that I’ve encountered…). I don’t have a John bias…I have great respect for McCartney. I just don’t have great respect for his memory of the songwriting partnership….I’m not alone (as the posts on this thread readily attest….). There is nothing “hyperbolic” in my view. Quite the contrary, I’m being circumspect and sensible…the McCartney “loyalists” are not weighing the evidence….

          1. Richard Boene

            First of all Kendall let me clarify that I am a musician, and while the guitar is not my primary instrument, I try my best to keep the instrument’s role in perspective whenever I am analyzing its role in a piece of music as I would any other instrument. And as for you finding my previous comment “odd” well all I can say is that with all the differing viewpoints and arguments to be found concerning the Beatles, some here and there are probably going to seem “odd” to just about any fan of the group whatever their biases and judgements concerning the subject of the Beatles, their lives and their music may be. Sorry that my own perspective struck you in such a way, but I really wouldn’t be surprised if everybody who visited this site had such feelings about at least one comment or opinion they’ve encountered here. It just is what it is. And as for my usage of the term “hyperbolic” I was largely thinking of the wordings of your opening statements (“zero help from Paul in the composition”) as much as the statements themselves (which I still find unconvincing) when I wrote that statement. If somehow you or anyone else here feels my usage of the word was misplaced than an apology is certainly in order. I am only focusing on your argument so please don’t take any of this personally.

            Getting back to the main point however, I don’t have any reason to doubt that Lennon wrote the lyrics. But writing music and writing lyrics are not the same thing, and there is more than one way to combine the two while in the process of writing a song. By most accounts that I’ve come across, Lennon had a tendency to write lyrics before setting them to music (or collaborating with McCartney on the process) so the lyrical aspect of the songwriting was not part of my perspective here. I was only stating why I remain uncertain as to everyone agreeing with the firmness of your own viewpoint about the writing of the music. You may claim (and genuinely believe) that the existence of this demo is solid proof of Lennon having written the melody and chord progression by himself and use your own views of his compositional tendencies as support for your claim. But, even if every guitarist you know agrees with you, how exactly does that speak for every compositional method relating to the guitar. I have several friends who are guitarists and they all have different ways of working things out on their instruments (partly because they are proficient in different genres of music). Sometimes these guitarists have even tried working out ideas they found in other musicians, so if these musicians could then why not Lennon and McCartney? And why would it not be possible for such ideas from other people to find their ways into guitar based songs, or even demos of such songs?

            For the record, I am not a “McCartney loyalist” and I have stated that I do not believe there is enough evidence to give a truly definitive account of the writing of this song. But it’s worth keeping in mind that Lennon did not always get everything right with his recollections either. Personal frustrations in his life sometimes affected the ways in which he described things to interviewers and his memory was no more lacking in flaws than McCartney’s. And while I personally feel that Lennon is occasionally overpraised in some areas, it does not change one iota of my admiration for his musicianship and songwriting. And even if McCartney’s claim turned out to be true (although I’m not saying it is as we both agree that the evidence there is lacking) it would not take anything away from Lennon’s own talents and accomplishments and it certainly would not change anything about the wonder that this song is.

            1. Kendall Miller

              Well Richard,
              It’s not hyperbolic to say that John had zero help in the composition of “If I Fell.” It’s really that simple. The evidence, ALL of the direct evidence, supports that view. The peculiarity of the recorded opening chord structure (in Ebm ) was solved when John’s demo came to light. It does matter in THIS instance if you play guitar or not. Show my post to any guitarist, who is a Beatle admirer (and someone who has substantial knowledge of John’s songs and their structure), and have them work through the chords as I’ve transcribed them, and they will explain this to you. The demo chord structure is pure John Lennon and represents the way this song was clearly written. John did not have a “a tendency to write lyrics before setting them to music”: that rarely happened in his case (or Paul’s for that matter…”In My Life” and “All My Loving” are examples of lyrics first, music second and both John and Paul described that as a rare occurrence …). Usually, it was the music first…Paul has said, at various times, a title might suggest or inspire the music….Once again, your post was very odd. You wrote: “But, even if every guitarist you know agrees with you, how exactly does that speak for every compositional method relating to the guitar. ” Huh? It DOESN’T speak for “every compositional method relating to the guitar”….it speaks to this particular song and the direct evidence surrounding its composition…. Paul, in his dotage, has been trying to cadge additional “percentage” credit for some of the Lennon-McCartney catalog…some of that is clearly warranted even if his percentages are a bit silly;but, in a few definitive instances, it is not: “If I Fell” is one of the latter…his claim is much less than plausible. (It should be noted, as well, that Paul hasn’t been nearly as generous in acknowledging credit for Ringo or George who helped him with lyrics!). And yes, John made claim to substantial credit for the lyrics to “Eleanor Rigby” that, clearly, was not warranted; and, George helped him write “I Feel Fine” that he claimed was a solo effort…I’m well aware of those lapses. But, once again, those songs were not solo demo songs, they were collaborations…and we have ZERO demos of any collaborations! I’ve been an admirer of the fabs since they first appeared on Ed Sullivan back in 1964…I’ve been a musician for decades. I feel very confident that what I’m imparting to you here is correct. But, of course, if you wish to defer for some “reason” to Macca, go ahead: knock yourself out!

              1. Richard Boene

                You can certainly feel that what you are stating is accurate Kendall. You clearly took the time to think your viewpoint out. Just because I disagree with the way you put it forth does not mean I do not respect your viewpoint. However, I do not appreciate you telling me to “knock myself out.” You seem to be forgetting that as I stated earlier, I do not believe there is enough evidence to completely verify all of the claims made by both Lennon and McCartney regarding the composition of this song, so I am rather baffled at your claim that I “wish to defer” to McCartney. Even if I am willing to consider his claim, that does not mean I wholly believe it. I only meant to infer as to why I was not certain that everyone who read your claim would agree with you. For all we know, you may very well be right. However, nothing you have stated has swayed me from the possibility (which I will not attempt to prove as there is no proof I know of) that Lennon may have at least taken some musical ideas from McCartney while working on the music for the song. I am not pretending to know that of course. And if I knew for certain that Lennon wrote all the music to the song I would certainly accept it. Although my uncertainties remain, I am not deferring to anyone. I am only trying look at the songwriting process as fairly as I can. As previously stated, I do admire Lennon, but I try to keep my perspective of his legacy as objective as I can due to my personal frustrations with the ways in which much of the general public have tended to analyze his legacy at the expense of the other members of the band. That is why I have issues with the way you put your own perspective forth, but that does not mean I would try to stop you from doing so. All I did was to state why I disagreed with you. There are plenty of instances where people generally but respectfully disagree with each other on sites such as this one.

                I may have phrased my question about your claim “speaking for every compositional method relating to the guitar,” incorrectly. My intention had been to suggest that there are different ways any guitarist at all could apply musical ideas to their guitar playing. And as for my claim that Lennon often wrote lyrics before setting them to music, I would not have claimed it if I had not done some reading before arriving at that conclusion. We may have both gotten our views on this from different sources, and while I am open to the possibility that I am wrong, I did have reason to believe that this was largely how Lennon would work on his own songs in the mid 1960s at least. I’m not going to elaborate here, as I feel it would detract from the subject of this particular song which is what this comments section is here for anyway.

                Finally Kendall, I have to tell you that I do not care that you think my comments are “odd.” I too took the time to think my own perspective out and I have tried to make my own position as clear and understandable as I could. I do not mind that we disagree on this subject. But like I said, given how many arguments there are among fans of the Beatles and how many differing perspectives on their legacy that there are, it hardly seems unreasonable to expect certain viewpoints to come off as “odd” to any fan of the band depending on his or her own biases and judgements. It is what it is. This is the Beatles we’re talking about after all.

                I do not know you, so remember that none of this is personal.

  21. Joey Flynn

    It is reasonable to believe most of this song was written on a melody and idea of John. They were at a hotel where there was a piano and they finished the body of the song. Paul wrote the first part with the intricate chords. The key change was because of the piano to guitar. John sang the first part because it was his thought and his idea.

  22. Golden Slumber

    I admire both McCartney and Lennon, but 1. Lennon’s solo demo is pretty much complete, with the preamble section and high melody line 2. If it was recorded after McCartney’s input (if any), why is he not on the demo with Lennon, singing “his parts”? 3. If McCartney wrote the preamble, why did he not sing it? 4. McCartney is always claiming his contributions on Lennon songs since Lennon died, and that is VERY unfair. Same with ‘Mr. Kite’ recently, and others. He doesn’t do the same with the songs that are mainly his. 5. Lennon’s handwritten lyrics are complete too.

  23. Golden Slumber

    … Also, why is McCartney still using Beatle songs as examples of his songwriting abilities, is he not proud of what he did with Wings and his solo career? He has written amazing songs after the Beatles disbanded too.

  24. Joey Flynn

    Someone is certainly biased. The beginning of the song is totally different from the completed song, hence preamble. The George V Hotel brought them in a piano which Mccartney played fairly well at that time, so it was probably easy for him to do the first part. John made the recording later. Mccartney has no problem saying that Harrison gave him the guitar riff for And I Love Her which really makes the song. He also says Maybe I’m amazed is one of his favorite songs. In my opinion John and Paul would have been just fine as a duo. They should have continued writing together.————————————————–

  25. Golden Slumber

    here there and everywhere has a preamble. that’s paul. should have used it as an example, not if i fell. do you want to know a secret is another preamble song by john.

  26. Silly Girl

    I’ve recently noticed that EVERY SINGLE BLEEPIN’ SONG ON HERE (excluding George’s) gets involved in this great debate over who wrote it. I’m beginning to get just a liiiiitle tired of it. Which is why I never enter the debates. :p

  27. Johan cavalli

    If I Fell is a typical Lennon composition. Even the intro is typical Lennon: four changes of key! and a falling melody. That means that Lennon is joking. Who else than Lennon could have joked in this way? And the main melody is very typical Lennon:repeating three long notes.The competetive McCartney has always been embarrased by the fact that Lennon was the dominant composer before Yesterday 1965, and If I Fell was written 1964. I have always distrusted McCartney´s comments, especially comments abut the time before Yesterday.The tendency is that If Lennon composed the melody and McCartney helped a little with the harmony, McCartney said we wrote the song “together” and got the establlishment to believe it is a “co-composition”. (Sometimes he – I´m sorry to say – is bluffing: In a You Tube thing from 1990, he said “I wrote Help” ! but later corrected himself and said It is a Lennon composition).

  28. Thomas Lyday

    As a guitar player, I can tell which parts Lennon wrote, and which parts McCartney wrote.

    Lennon is much more untrained, “primitive,” as does things that somehow work, yet no trained musician would dare to do them. His approach almost flies in the face of normal musical “sense.” McCartney uses his musical schooling, brilliantly employing certain chord structures that make total sense musically.

    Obviously, Lennon wrote the intro, because of it’s weird, almost out of tune structure that defies logic.

    McCartney clearly wrote the part where it goes up to D9, then down to G, to Gminor, etc. which is one of Macca’s fave musical motifs.

    McCartney can go higher than Lennon, vocally, so he takes the “lead” so Lennon can do his flat monotone-y lower part. They did this constantly.

  29. Johan cavalli

    To Thomas Lyding
    Is this succession D9, G and Gminor so special?
    Listen to Lennon´s middle part in Bad To Me from Dminor in “…let you go…” to G in “…just as long…”. It´s a marvellous step down in a wonderful middle part.
    Or listen to the middle part in Lennon´s Yes It Is from Dminor in “…with you by my side…” to Gminor in “…if I could forget her…” .
    Doesn´t Lennon “make total sense musically”?
    Many covers playing Lennon´s Oh My Love miss the notes! in “…everything is clear in the world…”. Can you sing it? Is Lennon primitive?
    I have even heard people missing the notes! in “…I´m crying…I´m crying…” in I Am The Walrus. Can you sing it? Is Lennon primitive?
    Today it is very hot to talk about the chords. But the melody is more interesting than the chords. Listen to when Lennon changes the key the second time in the middle part I Should Have Known Better, “…oh oh oh ooho…”. That is a marvelous bit of music. Music in a “high level”.
    And the lovely middle part-melody in Lennon´s Nobody Loves You, with the +chord.
    Can you tell me more examples of McCartney´s serie D9, G and Gminor?

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