Rubber Soul album artworkWritten by: Harrison
Recorded: 8 November 1965
Producer: George Martin
Engineer: Norman Smith

Released: 3 December 1965 (UK), 6 December 1965 (US)

George Harrison: vocals, rhythm guitar
John Lennon: harmony vocals, Vox Continental organ, tambourine
Paul McCartney: harmony vocals, bass
Ringo Starr: drums, maracas

Available on:
Rubber Soul
Yellow Submarine Songtrack

One of George Harrison's first philosophical songs, Think For Yourself was first released on the 1965 album Rubber Soul.

Download on iTunes

An unusually harshly-worded warning about the perils of leaving bad deeds unrectified, the inspiration behind the song is unknown. In his 1980 autobiography, Harrison claimed not to remember its origins, although he made a self-deprecating reference to the likes of Taxman and Piggies:

Think For Yourself must be written about somebody from the sound of it - but all this time later I don't quite recall who inspired that tune. Probably the government.
George Harrison
I Me Mine

Whereas a number of Harrison's later songs were awash with pseudo-cosmic wisdom, Think For Yourself is remarkable for its earthy sourness. Parallels can be drawn between the song and Within You Without You, which found Harrison more at peace with the differences of others.

Although your mind's opaque
Try thinking more if just for your own sake
The future still looks good
And you've got time to rectify all the things that you should
Think For Yourself
Try to realise it's all within yourself
No-one else can make you change
And to see you're really only very small,
And life flows on within you and without you
Within You Without You

In the studio

Think For Yourself was recorded in a single session on 8 November 1965, under the working title Won't Be There With You.

The Beatles recorded the basic track - rhythm guitars, bass and drums - in a single take. They then overdubbed lead guitar, more bass (this time fed through a fuzz box), tambourine, maracas and organ, along with two three-part vocal tracks.

Paul used a fuzz box on the bass on Think For Yourself. When Phil Spector was making Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah, the engineer who's set up the track overloaded the microphone on the guitar player and it became very distorted. Phil Spector said, 'Leave it like that, it's great'. Some years later everyone started to try to copy that sound and so they invented the fuzz box. We had one and tried the bass through it and it sounded really good.
George Harrison

Prior to the recording, George Martin taped the group rehearsing the song. The Beatles were aware of this, deliberately playing up to the microphones.

The recording went mostly unused, although a six-second segment of the group practising their harmonies found its way into the Yellow Submarine film, when The Beatles were called upon to revive the mayor of Pepperland.