When I Get Home

A Hard Day's Night album artworkWritten by: Lennon-McCartney
Recorded: 2 June 1964
Producer: George Martin
Engineer: Norman Smith

Released: 10 July 1964 (UK), 20 July 1964 (US)

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

Available on:
A Hard Day's Night

When I Get Home was written by John Lennon, and taped by The Beatles during the final recording session for the A Hard Day's Night album.

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The impatience of the lyrics ("I've got no time for trivialities") may have had something to do with The Beatles' hectic schedule of the time, or Lennon's frustration at having spent three months recording the group's third album.

Come on, let me through
I've got so many things I've got to do
I've got no business being here with you
This way
When I Get Home

The music, too, had the same sense of urgency, notably in the push for the chorus as Lennon, McCartney and Harrison harmonised "Whoa-ah, whoa-I..." The song was influenced by Motown and US soul and R&B.

That's me again, another Wilson Pickett, Motown sound, a four-in-the-bar cowbell song.
John Lennon
All We Are Saying, David Sheff

In the studio

The Beatles recorded When I Get Home on 2 June 1964. Earlier that day The Beatles had recorded Paul McCartney's Things We Said Today, and began work on another Lennon song, Any Time At All.

The session for When I Get Home took place from 7-10pm at Abbey Road's Studio Two. It was recorded in 11 takes; after completing the song the group finished Any Time At All, after which the A Hard Day's Night LP was complete.

Making his debut as a tape operator on the session was Ken Scott, then a 17-year-old at the start of his career in the music industry.

At that time four-track tape machines were so large that there was no room for them in the control room. They were sited along the corridor and the only contact you had with the session was via a talkback system. On this particular evening The Beatles were playing back their latest recordings to a few friends who had come in. George Martin was giving me directions over the talkback and at one point I heard him say "home". So I put the tapes away, switched off the power, put my coat on and left the room. As I was walking along the corridor I saw George standing in the doorway. 'Well,' he said, 'is the tape lined up yet?' 'I'm sorry?' 'Is the tape of When I Get Home ready yet?' 'Aah, hang on George, I'll just check and see.' I ran up that corridor, flicked all the switches and put the tape back on as fast as lightning, acting nonchalantly as if nothing was wrong!
Ken Scott
The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions, Mark Lewisohn

When I Get Home was mixed for mono on 4 June, although it was never used. New mono and stereo mixes were made on 22 June.

The song was first released in the UK on the A Hard Day's Night LP on 10 July 1964. It was also included on the Extracts From The Album A Hard Day's Night EP, which was issued by Parlophone on 6 November.

In the US, When I Get Home was included on the Capitol album Something New, which was first released on 20 July 1964.

20 responses on “When I Get Home

    1. chr0n0p0l1s

      i like how the lyrics shift at that point, from being glad that she’s at home to he has no business being in that relationship because he’s got so much shit he has to do. The cow’s come home… ha!

  1. D.B.

    This, I think is the worst recording on any Beatles song bar Slow Down, and the performance ranks somewhere at the bottom too. Sounds exhausted, I’m sure they were, but they sound like somebody’s drugged them or something (no lead guitar at all, lousy drumming, I think the song slows down as well). And what’s up with the sound balance as well?

    1. Joseph Brush

      Ringo famously said in the Anthology series that if they were derelict in the studio in any way, drugs for instance, that their subsequent performance was “shit”.
      At this juncture in their career, it would seem that the lack of studio time plus tiredness could be the reason why you believe this performance to be their worst.

    2. mark

      Sorry D.B. but you couldn’t be more wrong. This track rocks hard, and the vocals are incredible. Listen to the interplay between the two rhythm guitars, the giddiness in the 3 part vocal harmony, a fabulous lead vocal by John, including a little Elvis swagger in the bridge…. this is 1964 rock n roll at its best. (the lyrics are irrelevant in this period of their development, it’s all about the incredible sound they made…)

  2. Bubba McGee

    When I Get Home, in my opinion, was a great song. It had it’s own unique hooks that made it special, as almost all their songs did. It is the only song they did, that I can think of, that had a full compliment of verses and the middle sections, as well as choruses. A real screamer. And starting on the chorus gets you right into the song. Also a great ending, where John holds the note “Home” then “Ye e ah” etc. Great, great song.

    1. Chris

      I agree with Bubba. I have always thought this one of their best, and most underrated, early-period rockers. It practically begs to be played loud, where Paul’s driving bass and Ringo’s strong drumming instantly elevate the song from “tired” to raucous and eminently satisfying. Perhaps reflecting exhaustion, John’s vocals are a bit raw, but that only lends itself to the urgency of the lyrics. Great harmonies here, too.

  3. wayne

    There’s a lot less to the song “When I Get Home” than the author of this page would have us believe. While there was certainly a very demanding and recording schedule for the Beatles in 1964, it wasn’t a factor in these lyrics. John said more than once that during this early-Beatles period, the lyrics of their songs were virtually meaningless – it was the overall sound that they were looking to achieve. And in one Lennon interview, he said that he used the word “trivialities” after some music journalist found fault with him and the band for their lyrical simplistic and mono-syllabic nature. John tended to agree with that assessment – thus the use of the five-syllable word “trivialities”

  4. Matteo

    I just listened to this one (which I’d never much liked at all before) on the mono remaster CD at fairly loud volume, and I’ve got to say, this is one heck of a heavy, ass-kickin’ track. I think it’s pretty excellent now…

  5. Lex Lewis

    While the recording of When I get home isn’t flawless, in my opinion the effect works. The vocals are exciting and, while some of the lyrics may seem corny, most of them are quite good and flow nicely. It’s a good song and I don’t think of it as a “filler”.

  6. Julian Bailinson

    I enjoy this song (Incidentally, I always interpret the third verse as lampshading the narrator being with some other woman and needing to get home), but I don’t think it works coming right before “You Can’t Do That.” They have the same basic groove, so it just feels a bit repetitive.

    1. Snuffles

      This song rocks! And I agree with your interpretation that its mostly about getting away from other girl(s) (fans?) to get home to another (Cyn?). I think all the verses relate to this them, then he sings about what he’s gonna do when he gets home (love her ’till the cows come home–until he has to leave again).

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