I’ve Just Seen A Face

Help! album artworkWritten by: Lennon-McCartney
Recorded: 14 June 1965
Producer: George Martin
Engineer: Norman Smith

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

Paul McCartney: vocals, acoustic guitar
John Lennon: acoustic guitar
George Harrison: acoustic lead guitar
Ringo Starr: brushed snare drum, maracas

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I've Just Seen A Face was composed by Paul McCartney in the music room at Jane Asher's parents' house on Wimpole Street, London.

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Because McCartney's aunt expressed a liking for it, the song was briefly known as Auntie Jin's Theme until the lyrics were completed.

It was slightly country and western from my point of view. It was faster, though, it was a strange uptempo thing. I was quite pleased with it. The lyric works: it keeps dragging you forward, it keeps pulling you to the next line, there's an insistent quality to it that I liked.
Paul McCartney
Many Years From Now, Barry Miles

I've Just Seen A Face was well received by Capitol's A&R department. The Beatles' US label then removed it from the American edition of Help!, and it became the opening song on their version of Rubber Soul.

In the 1970s, meanwhile, the song became one of the few Beatles songs to be performed by McCartney's group Wings.

In the studio

The Beatles recorded I've Just Seen A Face in six takes on the morning of 14 June 1965. To the last of these they overdubbed a maraca part. The song is unusual in that it doesn't contain a bass guitar part.

In a breathtaking display of versatility, McCartney's songs I'm Down and Yesterday were also recorded on the same day.

30 responses on “I’ve Just Seen A Face

    1. Ben Smith

      It’s funny how the American Rubber Soul seems to get all the credit and, in many cases, I’d say it’s deserved. It’s such a tightly constructed album and example of how addition by subtraction can work majestically. Sure. The British Rubber Soul is probably a better collection of songs, but the Capitol edition is such a wonderful listening experience. Especially considering how most of the American albums are rambling compilations (I’m looking at you Help!/Something New), it’s no surprise to me why Rubber Soul in the U.S. was such a breath of fresh air. It’s just a shame that Revolver had to get neutered because of Yesterday and Today (also a better album than people often realize), but that probably led to the overwhelming surprise that was Sgt. Pepper’s because that album was so out-of-left-field when it was released.

  1. Roger

    Yeah, I agree with brian…I made a CD of Rubber Soul and added “I’ve Just Seen A Face” just because I’m used to that song being the opener and because it makes a great opener for RS.

  2. BeatleMark

    Yes, the Captiol version of this album is by far a great one. Especially if you have a copy of the rare “East Coast” version. The Scranton Pa. pressing plant had a master stamper with a layer of reverb across the entire album. Sounds warm and beautiful! Dr. Ebbetts made a “needle drop” recording/bootleg of it. If you can find it, download it! A must for any fan of this album in it’s U.S. version.

  3. Von Bontee

    Never heard that, but I used to own the old 8-track tape with the “false start” version of “I’m Looking Through You”.

    Y’know what REALLY makes a great album? Combine both the US and UK editions and throw in “Day Tripper/We Can Work it Out” as well!

  4. Ben

    I gotta be honest, when I first heard this song I thought it was one of their “shout-out” songs. Like USSR was recognising The Beach Boys or If I Needed Someone was for The Byrds.

    This could pass as a Simon & Garfunkel song. With the harmony in the chorus and the overall “folksy” feel to it.

    1. vonbontee

      Oh, absolutely – “The Boxer” even has the “li di di” lyrics. Except that “I’ve Just Seen a Face” predated much of S&G’s well-known recorded work, so it’s more likely a case of all of them being influenced by the Everly Brothers.

      1. Tony Keen

        True, ‘I’ve Just Seen A Face’ predates most people knowing about Simon & Garfunkel. But Wednesday Morning 3 A.M. had come out in October 1964, and Simon had spent much of late 1964 and early 1965 touring Britain. The Beatles were very hot on keeping up with new stuff coming out, so I think it’s entirely possible that McCartney had a copy of Wednesday Morning and/or had seen Simon play live.

    1. brian

      One reason it fits nicely as an opening song on “Rubber Soul” is because the last guitar strum note of it segues perfectly with the beginning guitar sound of “Norwegian Wood”.

  5. Leonard Meyer

    Very much disagree that this song is of little distinction. I believe that this song and Don’t Let Me Down are the two most underrated songs in the Beatles catalogue.

  6. amy vandenberghe

    actually john paul george all play acoustically together and harmonise vocals ringo plays bongos the lyrics are propulsive and drive the song forward to the chorus Ithink it is a rollicking fun number that is totally unique to the whole catalog jesus mosquito

  7. DarrenS

    Since reading Lewisohn’s book, all I can think about when I hear this song is Japage 3 (“the rythm is in the guitars”). It had to have been a blast to have them all back playing guitars together for a song. Just a great little song to listen to.

  8. Graham Paterson

    Wonderful Paul McCartney song, very country and western. One of my favorite songs on album Help! from the time I first got it for my birthday in March 1980. As you said on this site Paul McCartney really shows versatility, he recorded this I’m Down and Yesterday all in one day. Help! an album that should always be in top 100 of all time.

  9. Dbw

    One of McCartneys best songs from this era. Was surprised to read there is no bass in this song, but alas, yes, no bass guitar ! definitely Ringo playing brushed drums, NOT bongos

  10. Timi

    My husband sings this song to me…it’s my song…I love it and have been a Beatles girl all my life…my kids now are beautiful Beatles children 27 To 11 all of them have Beatles albums…I love it…good music never dies

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