If You’ve Got Trouble

Anthology 2 album artworkWritten by: Lennon-McCartney
Recorded: 18 February 1965
Producer: George Martin
Engineer: Norman Smith

Released: 18 March 1996 (UK), 19 March 1996 (US)

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

Available on:
Anthology 2

Written by Lennon and McCartney and sung by Ringo Starr, If You've Got Trouble was originally intended to be a part of Help!, the soundtrack to The Beatles' second film.

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I recorded a song for the Help! album that was never released - If You've Got Trouble. George Martin found it in the vaults of EMI studios.
Ringo Starr

The songs given to Ringo to sing were never among Lennon and McCartney's finest: I Wanna Be Your Man and What Goes On were little more than album fillers, and often Starr was left to sing cover versions.

If You've Got Trouble bears the unfortunate hallmarks of the two songwriters going through the motions: uninspired lyrics about diamond rings, "money and things", references to Starr's haplessness (his persona within the group's early years was that of an amiable clown), and a tune which was less than inspired.

We've just come across that, and it's the most weird song. I've no recollection of ever recording it. It's got stupid words and is the naffest song. No wonder it didn't make it onto anything.
George Harrison

In the studio

If You've Got Trouble was recorded in a single take on 18 February 1965, in between two other Lennon-McCartney songs - You've Got To Hide Your Love Away and Tell Me What You See.

The rhythm track was recorded first, then double-tracked lead and backing vocals were overdubbed, along with an extra guitar part by George Harrison.

That the song wasn't working as planned can be heard in Ringo's desperate call before the guitar solo: "Ah, rock on - anybody!" If You've Got Trouble was eventually replaced on the Help! album by Act Naturally, recorded four months later.

51 responses on “If You’ve Got Trouble

  1. Nate Raffian

    Are they kidding? Even the least inspired Beatles song is head and shoulders above anyone else’s material (and that’s not a dandruff reference). If Ringo had blurted “Ah, rock on, anybody!” in one of the classics, we’d celebrate its lunacy instead of taking this as evidence of a throwaway line. The fact that a Beatle mocks it in retrospect signifies nothing; witness the Lennon vitriol leveled at some of his finest work in retrospect.

  2. Serge

    Raffian – from your response I can tell you haven’t heard it. There are a handful of Beatles songs – maybe 10 or 20 – that I have no desire to listen to. (The rest of them I love.) This is much, much worse than whatever you consider the worst Beatles song. Search for it on YouTube. It is truly godawful. It took me until 1:07 until I would be willing to kill myself to stop the, um, so-called “music” if there were no stop button. It could be used as a weapon during warfare. It makes flowers wilt. It causes cancer. It emits gamma rays. It is that bad. Really.

  3. ac

    I like this song, I think it’s pretty good and hummable. The Beatles will I’m sure bash things they did and they’re withing their rights, but as a fan I think it’s alright.

  4. Vonbontee

    Yeah, it’s not such a bad little song, it’s just unremarkable. (In fact, I like it more than either of “Help!”‘s two Harrisongs.) A song as bad as the one Serge is apparently hearing would be a lot more memorable than this little 12-bar throwaway. And yeah, the “Rock on, anybody!” really is the best thing about the song.

  5. TheOneBeatle

    I think that is a good song but with nonsense on the lyrics. It would be a good song if they put em’ more better lyrics. But i think it’s great anyway.

  6. David

    I listened to this song on Utube and it is as good as any other songs that Ringo sang. It is much better than the cover he did sing on help! That song, by the way (Act Naturally) should have been on “Beaucoups of Blues”

    “Rock on anybody” is totally Ringo funny!

    1. Joseph Brush

      To comment that If You’ve Got Troubles is a much better song than Act Naturally, is a serious lapse in musical appreciation.

      Ringo’s lament “Rock on anybody” is easily the only highlight of the Beatle recording which should have left unreleased.

  7. StarrTime

    I mean it’s not a great song, but I find myself listening to it from time to time, I mean, come on it’s Ringo! By the way it sounds like Ringo is playing the guitar solos because they are god-awful!

  8. TheOneBeatleManiac

    Personally, i think it’s a good song, maybe it’s the less good song wrote by the Lennon-McCartney partnership, and yeah, maybe also, there’s animosity for this song and maybe we can hear it too, but even with the nonsensed lyrics, lack of more good lyrics and drumming and voices, it’s for me a good song. I tie it with Mr. Moonlight of the less good song they did.

  9. brian

    While the song isn’t very good, it really isn’t all that bad either. I could see that if they practiced it a bit more, created a decent guitar solo, plus maybe a change or two in the arrangement, it would have been a no brainer to go on “Help!” as Ringo’s track and nobody would have thought twice about it.

    One can imagine though as they are playing it in the studio that as Ringo is singing, he looks around at the grimacing expressions on John, Paul, and George and decides the song is seriously lacking something.

  10. Vonbontee

    Not as good as “Act Naturally”, but I’d still rank it ahead of two or three other “Help!” tracks. Riff-wise, it’s certainly better than “Dizzy Miss Lizzy” – you can see a definite progression straight through from “Troubles” to “Day Tripper” to “Taxman”.

  11. TheOneBeatle

    I found recently that the Anthology version the order of the lyrics is altered from the original form.
    In Anthology starts: ”If You’ve Got Troubles, you’ve got less…”
    But the original starts: ”I Don’t think is funny when…”
    The Anthology version is extended it lasts 2:44
    The original can be find on bootlegs and lasts only 2:25.
    Damn, anthology altered other song!

  12. Libby

    In with another “I like it!” It’s no piece of genius, that’s for sure, but I dig the beat and the drums and Ringo’s voice. As someone else said, it’s definitely “hummable”.

  13. Cincy

    I actually kind of like the song too. Despite the banal and awful lyrics, there is an interesting musical idea at the bottom of it. It always seemed to me to be a riff on the piano intro to Ray Charles’ “What’d I Say” (a song the Beatles played during the stage days in Hamburg). I think that if John and Paul had put just a little more effort into it, it may have turned out all right.

    That said, Ringo’s version of “Act Naturally” is great — better than the original.

  14. Deadman

    “If You’ve Got Troubles” is not such a bad little song.
    It has nice riff, I think, only the words have gone wrong.
    It’s not irredeemably shite,
    and with a few changes it could be put right.
    “If You’ve Got Troubles” is not such a bad little song.

    It has just three chords,
    which any learner on guitar can play.
    It has these three chords,
    and they’re major ones: E, b7, A.

  15. Travis

    I agree this is amongst the weakest Lennon-McCartney tunes, of which there are only a very small handful i would actually consider truly “weak”. I’ve always been amazed over the years at finding even really rare things they just threw out or gave to other ppl that I absolutely adore(“I’m In Love” comes to mind as one of a zillion examples). This kind of craft is beneath them and i think they knew it, hence first giving it to Ringo then completely discarding it. I have to say its one Beatle song i could have lived my life without hearing. The fact that this made the cut for Anthology and “Love of the Loved” didnt is somewhat criminal, methinks. Any songwriter could pump this out and I NEVER thought I would think that about any Lennon-McCartney song

  16. ManNamedLear

    Aside from any compositional complaints, this has to be one of George’s *worst* solos on record. (And that’s saying a lot. I love and respect George’s playing, and later on he became quite proficient, but he may have set the record for number of blunders in 16 bars.) The fact that the solo is double-tracked is just boggling.

    1. Vonbontee

      If he made the same blunders both times, then that means they were deliberate choices and not blunders at all!

      I usually don’t mind mistakes in solos – it’s a sign of character.

      1. Tweeze

        There’s an old trick one does when playing LIVE – if you make a mistake, make it again because then it sounds like you meant it and thus becomes ‘not a mistake’. However, this being in a studio – perhaps it was intentional? I don’t believe they had quite the clout at that time to spend glorious hours in the studio, though. It doesn’t sound entirely fleshed out and they don’t sound enthusiastic.

  17. gayle

    this song is, in mo, catchy. Same goes for ‘you know what to do’.
    I am surprised at the number of older fans who are snubbing them.
    On first hearing both of these songs I was taken back to, say, 1965. Remembering the way I felt then is similar to the way I feel listening to these two now.

  18. zrd360

    Uh how is John playing the rhythm guitar?

    I think he is sliding chords or something? I can’t really explain. It just sounds weird. It also made me fall in love with the song.

    1. John Leper

      You can clearly hear John’s guitar doubling Paul’s bass during the solo and going “chacka-chacka” afterwards (2:00-2:10). He plays rhythm guitar during the verses (that ching-ching sound). His rhythm playing is most obvious during the chorus (right channel).

  19. Holsety

    Some of these so-called fans claim these songs cause cancer, then go away. I personally like the song.. Probably because they performed it well, whether or not the song itself is good.

  20. Bill

    Wow. The less said about this one, the better. There were some gems left in the can, but this isn’t one of them. “Ah, rock on, anybody” sounds like a desperate plea for help (no pun intended). Left on the shelf & deservedly so. Uninspired, to say the least. Must’ve had too much reefer that day. When I first heard it on Ultra Rare Trax I laughed out loud at it…

    1. Keith Shauger

      …And the fact that you first heard it on Ultra Rare Trax (one amongst countless bootlegs that contained the song) is EXACTLY why it wasn’t left off Anthology – or why the Anthology exists in the first place. As for me, I laughed at the “you think I’m soft in the head” bit.

  21. Bob

    Since the Monkees were conceived as an ersatz Beatles, I think THEY should have recorded “If You’ve Got Troubles.” It would have been a good song to let Peter Tork sing, and it would have felt so right with him shouting “Rock on, anybody…”

  22. Steve Rogers

    I like the instrumental track a lot, it’s mainly the lyrics that aren’t good enough. If the lyrics were brilliant and the song had been on the Help! LP, I think people would be saying this was a precursor of the guitar & bass octave riffs later made popular by Cream, Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin and others.

  23. BBCSessions1963

    Ifelt like that this song should’ve been the lead song instead of Help! It justs fits Ringo’s troubles in the film, aand Ringo deserves a chance to sing a song, not having sung a song the previous film. Plus it’s better than Act Naturally.

  24. Lennon fan

    I’ll bring this up, since nobody else has— who wrote this, Lennon, McCartney, or the two together? And exactly what role did Ringo play in creating the melody?

    To me, it sounds as if Lennon scribbled down some resentful-towards-the-wife lyrics on a scrap of paper, McCartney came up with a few backing riffs, and Ringo kinda made up the no-melody melody on the spot, loosely based on the way Lennon had sung it to him.

    Harrison’s lead guitar role was made difficult by the lack of melody or interesting chords to work off, so he basically resorts to a series of cliches of the type he must have played every night in Hamburg.


    “Act Naturally” was done as a sort of joke, I imagine… on one level, it is Ringo mocking the idea of having just finished being the dramatic “star” of “A Hard Day’s Night” (“They’re gonna put me in the movies…”)

    A rock group choosing such a tune would have been parodying C & W music in one sense.. but in another sense, I believe the Beatles were also paying some sort of respectful tribute to the great sound and songwriting of Buck Owens.

    Truly, in that sense it’s a dazzling display of virtuosity— how many other rock bands could have pulled this off? And made it both fun and funny?

    Nobody but the Beatles!

  25. Ian

    Another quote:

    {At 7 pm the Beatles are working to their time for a well-deserved break and food and drink. They are just completing a song which features Ringo singing.}
    I wrote it. It’s the funniest thing I’ve ever done — listen to the words.
    Lennon, Coleman, 1965?

  26. dan

    this wasn’t a beatle song. this wasn’t supposed to be heard. the beauty of the beatles was that they knew what was shite and they weeded it out i’d say 99.9% of the time. the fact that it was put out 40 some years later doesn’t mean it was an official release by the beatles, it was a novelty to show what they did in the studio, an UNRELEASED track. was if you want me by george considered a released beatle song? no, it was something they tried and then moved on. free as a bird and real love were the only official releases off anthology

  27. Biased John Lennon fan

    To me, this is a Lennon-Starkey song if there ever was one. Paul is practically invisible on this track and George’s guitar solo is poorly rehearsed. It is John’s badass rhythm guitar that propels the song, and even in the solo section, John’s guitar is overpowering George. Ringo of course, delivers very convincing vocals,
    particularly “Rock on, anybody!”
    (When you think about it, it’s not Ringo’s cry of “desperation” like haters say, but actually Ringo really getting into character. Etc. imagine him singing this in the movie and then he growls in frustration “rock on anybody!” because he’s so pissed off that he doesn’t care).
    Also he beats the hell out of his drums as always. This is light years better than Act Naturally.

  28. Sam

    I like this one. ‘Biased John Lennon fan’ is right, the desperation in “rock on anybody!” is just being in character for the song. Is he supposed to be all cheerful and happy when he’s singing a song about having so many troubles? I was also quite startled when I heard the line, because I thought ‘Boys’ and ‘Honey Don’t’ were the only two examples of Ringo shouting orders to the other band-members.

    What they should’ve done on Help! is they should’ve axed Dizzy Miss Lizzy, put Yesterday as the closer, and replaced Lizzy with this (maybe do some more takes to make it better). In any case, there’s no conceivable universe where this is worse than Dizzy Miss Lizzy.

  29. Pete

    It’s not amazing but frankly they released worse – on the Help album alone ‘It’s Only Love’ has much more embarrassing lyrics. Not being a fan of country, I prefer this to Act Naturally as well, although neither are ever going to win many people’s favorite Beatles song!

  30. oldFartBassPlayer Walt

    wonder what it would’ve sounded like if they put more time it-
    let it gel, deveop a life of its own.

    I think the real put-off in the sound is the jerky rhythm, and
    if it were somehow reworked into more smooth feel,
    the Ringo-centric lyrics and voice wouldn’t have been
    so critically received.

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