Yes It Is

Past Masters album artworkWritten by: Lennon-McCartney
Recorded: 16 February 1965
Producer: George Martin
Engineer: Norman Smith

Released: 9 April 1965 (UK), 19 April 1965 (US)

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

Available on:
Past Masters
Anthology 2

The b-side of Ticket To Ride was written mainly by John Lennon, and displayed the romantic side at odds with his often edgier public persona.

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Yes It Is was later described by Lennon as a failed rewrite of This Boy. Certainly both songs share characteristics, notably the 12/8 time signature, three-part vocal harmonies and 1950s doo wop-style chord sequences.

That's me trying a rewrite of This Boy, but it didn't work.
John Lennon
All We Are Saying, David Sheff

The song was written at John Lennon's house at Kenwood, Surrey.

I was there writing it with John, but it was his inspiration that I helped him finish off. Yes It Is is a very fine song of John's, a ballad, unusual for John. He wrote some beautiful ballads but I'm known generally as the balladeer.
Paul McCartney
Many Years From Now, Barry Miles

In the studio

Yes It Is was recorded on 16 February 1965. On the same day The Beatles also completed I Need You, with both songs featuring George Harrison's distinctive volume-pedal guitar work.

The group recorded the rhythm track in 14 takes between 5 and 7pm. Lennon, McCartney and Harrison then spent three hours perfecting their vocal harmonies, all singing live together.

A version of Yes It Is appeared on Anthology 2 in 1996. It begins with the unfinished take two, which contained the rhythm track and Lennon's guide vocals, edited together with a remix of the final take 14.

35 responses on “Yes It Is

    1. ForgetScowl

      I was 14 years old when this song sensuously poured through the radio. While I was pitching a rubber baseball against a wall on my house; this song reflected a passionate puppy love for a girl by the name of Colleen. She was the most beautiful girl in the neighborhood and I lacked the confidence to express my affection’s to her. As the years rolled on, I faded my intention and then tragically, Colleen died as a young beauty.
      Every time I hear John sing this song with his force, I think of Colleen & it haunts me in such a sweet way.

  1. Dave Rybaczewski

    Ian MacDonald in his book “Revolution In The Head” suggests that the woman who used to wear red had died, as inspired by some Bob Dylan songs written before that time. With this in mind, the song is even more emotional and haunting.

    1. BeatleBug

      I thought so, too! Especially on the line “I would remember all the things we planned…” it sounds awfully like the lady in red is no longer living. Because that’s often the greatest regret, with untimely deaths, is that there are so many unfinished plans and things.

  2. Steev

    I would NEVER say anything disparaging in regard to George’s guitar work. But a haunting bad mistake in the guitar swells, apparent only on the Stereo version, as it seems they “ducked” it on the Mono one, or perhaps forgot about it by time it came to mix the Stereo one, which as they always pointed out, the Stereo mixes were usually done as an afterthought anyway, [even the Beatles didn’t show up for them] at least until just around MMT. Right at the 1st “I could be Happy With You By My Side”, there’s a swell at”I”, then “Happy”, the 3rd one at the word “You” an the next one is at “Side”. Listen to that swell chord, at the word “Side”. Glaring! He knew he did it too. There’s a certain character about the next chord after that tells me he was recouping from the “glitch”, and he did it to complete perfection too :-] I just felt this was the place to point that one out, though Harrison is my all time hero, right next to Hendrix, I might add. Anybody who could “write” that 1st chord to “A Hard Day’s Night” or the outro for the same tune, or the intro to Eight Days a Week . . Well, you get the picture. Harrison was the BOMB! So sometimes it’s just as much fun to pick out the 1 blooper or 2, as there were so damn few of hem! Peace
    PS: I just found this site this morn. Fantastic!!

    1. rick

      I agree with everything you said Steev. I just got some new head phones. Won’t promote the brand but its incredible. I just heard all that stuff for the first time after listening to the song for over 40 years. Johns guitar on the right and George on the left. Mindblowing. Couldn’t even hear George before. Never knew all those minor and major 7ths along with the blunders were in there.

  3. Jeff Brodbeck

    Always one of my favorites. The lush three part harmonies, the melancholy mood, and the volume swells on guitar create an atmosphere of yearning and make it unique and moving.

  4. TomMo

    Aside from “Yes It Is” being the B-side of “Ticket To Ride”, did this song have any connection whatsoever with the movie, “Help!”? Consider the opening line: “If you wear red tonight…” And as we all know, red is not the color for Ringo to wear in the movie. Funny coincidence.

  5. Robert Berentzen

    I just love this song and 3 voices, it is a pleasure to play this on piano : }
    PS Ringo wears an ashtonishing red rainjack in their last performance on the Apple rooftop…

  6. exarctly

    I love this one. And the guitar swells to me make it even better. Gives it character that is unique. I like them more than the decent swells on “Wait”
    But it seems to me that there are two players (or tracks/layers) of fills. you can hear that sometimes there are two guitar sounds swelling at completely different registers of the instrument that would be difficult to play at the same time (or harmonics ringing while other swells are still in). And some start while others haven’t died yet. Were there two different tracks of guitar added, or two players doing fills? And, did John ever help George with the swells by toggling the volume on any tracks or is this all a foot pedal that George is using?

    1. James Ferrell

      In the notes for “I Need You,” which was recorded in the same session, George says he had trouble coordinating volume swells so John would kneel in front of him and turn the volume pot in his guitar. (!)

  7. Beatlesobsessor1969

    I love the volume pedal work on this and I need you. You don’t see george use many effects at all, and this just adds so much to the song. He doesn’t use it too much or too little it’s just right. I think this is one of the most uniqu Beatles songs despite being closely related to this boy( according to john). It’s got such a unique sound, through the droning harmonies and through the volume pedal. I think it is also a great contrast being put as the bside to the ( heavy according to lennon) ticket to ride. I find this song to be underrated by many and is often overlooked. It’s just fab when john sings the climax, yes it is, yes it is. What a gem. It is a lot like a doo wop as the page said. It’s a combined song with many styles, a love song style, doo wop, and traditional pop. Wow, the Beatles never cease to amaze.

    1. robert

      I agree totally – the only reason this song isn’t more underrated is because so few people even know of it. It’s simply gorgeous on every level. I can understand how Lennon dismisses it as another knock off type song, but that only belies his genius. Even some of his “worst” songs are still pure bliss. This is one of them. George’s volume pedal work is fantastic.

  8. Michelle

    Rolling Stone magazine have this in their 100 greatest Beatles songs list at number 99. Even Yellow Submarine is ranked higher! It really is a silly list anyway, with lots of incorrect information about the songs so it doesn’t really hold much merit. But still, 99?

    I had completely forgotten about this song until recently- I’ve a few 1st pressing 45s in a frame belonging to my mam, which she bought as a teenager and Ticket to Ride is one of them, hence the rediscovery and what a rediscovery it has been.

    We could sit and discuss and analyse this for hours on end but it all boils down to all of the above comments and the fact that it is just a brilliant brilliant song in every possible way. It has everything and still now, almost 50 years later, it is like a roundhouse kick to the heart each and every time. George is especially amazing I think here, (but he is my favourite and can do no wrong) but that harmony and the manner in which they recorded it is astonishing.

    I teach harmony and will absolutely be using this song as a demonstration in harmonic perfection with my students in the coming term.

    Man, what a song, eh?

  9. Lisa

    Has anyone else noticed that on the version of Yes It Is featured on the Anthology 2 CD that when John sings the second line he is clearly saying HE? I’ve listened to it over and over and he is saying ‘Scarlett is the clothes he wore’. Or am I just crazy? But I swear it’s what I hear. 🙂

  10. Paxton McCrimmon

    I’ve just listened to this ten times in row…its quickly become one of my top couple of amazingly underrated Beatles songs with “Hey Bulldog” “Ballad of John and Yoko”, etc etc!

  11. Graham Paterson

    This is a beautiful song I first heard on The Beatles Love Songs in 1977. Wonderful harmony by John, Paul and George. I loved this song,( written of course by John Lennon),when I first heard it and always will. Was of course the B side to Ticket To Ride. A long with Things We Said Today,She’s A Woman, I’m Down and This Boy a group of B sides I just love.

  12. Lennon-Harrison

    Yes It Is was released a few months before Yesterday, and it was every bit as good, if not better. Yet it is never mentioned in any top ten lists, it’s always
    Yesterday or Let It Be. John was too modest about his writing and singing, which was the image of the early beatles.

  13. Michael

    John was far too dismissive of this song. Sometimes, I think, a writer can be “too close” to his own material to make a fair assessment of the outcome. In comparison to “This Boy”, I have always found “Yes It Is” to be the superior song. “This Boy”, while no doubt a lovely composition, is fairly straightforward doo-wop. With “Yes It Is”, John — seemingly unconsciously, given his remarks — is taking us into deeper musical and emotional waters. I will second everyone else’s remarks — an overlooked gem.

  14. James Andre

    This song make me cry. Even though John died many years ago, I am still sad about his death. He gave the world many gifts and “Yes It Is” is one. Hard to believe he did not like his own singing.

  15. 2much4mymirror

    While trying to get over a breakup I made a mixtape of songs that captured the loss I was feeling. It included The Beach Boys’ “Caroline No,” Tracy Nelson’s “I Can’t Go On Loving You,” Ray Charles’ “Lonely Avenue” and Elmore James” “Cry for me Baby.” But this song surpassed them all in wringing the heart and bringing out the
    cathartic tears.

    1. John W

      I like that its not played that often. It makes the hearing that much more special. As far as John’s opinion of it I get the feeling that John was a moving forward as opposed to a reflective artist, more of less. I put it in my top ten Beatles songs.

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