One of the more uptempo rockers on the A Hard Day’s Night album, ‘Tell Me Why’ was written by John Lennon for the concert sequence in the film.
They needed another upbeat song and I just knocked it off. It was like a black-New-York-girl-group song
All We Are Saying, David Sheff
Although Lennon dismissed ‘Tell Me Why’ as a throwaway, Paul McCartney later suggested the song, along with others written for A Hard Day’s Night, was partly autobiographical.
I think a lot of these songs like ‘Tell Me Why’ may have been based in real experiences or affairs John was having or arguments with Cynthia or whatever, but it never occurred to us until later to put that slant on it all.
Many Years From Now, Barry Miles
‘Tell Me Why’ was featured in the ‘studio performance’ sequence of the A Hard Day’s Night film. The Beatles mimed to it in front of 350 screaming fans at the Scala Theatre, London, on 31 March 1964.
There are four I really go for [in the film]: ‘Can’t Buy Me Love’, ‘If I Fell’, ‘I Should Have Known Better’ – a song with harmonica we feature during the opening train sequence – and ‘Tell Me Why’, a shuffle number that comes at the end of the film.
For reasons unknown, Lennon’s vocals in the film are different from either the mono or stereo studio versions.
In the studio
The Beatles recorded ‘Tell Me Why’ on 27 February 1964 in Abbey Road’s Studio Two. It took them eight takes to perfect.
During the same session they also completed ‘And I Love Her’ and ‘If I Fell’.
I don’t have Lewishon book right here, but I think George didn’t sing on this one. The harmony was too high for him, so it’s John on lead vocals and John and Paul on harmony.