You Really Got A Hold On Me

With The Beatles album artworkWritten by: Robinson
Recorded: 18 July, 17 October 1963
Producer: George Martin
Engineer: Norman Smith

Released: 22 November 1963 (UK), 10 April 1964 (US)

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

Available on:
With The Beatles
Live At The BBC
Anthology 1

The first song recorded for The Beatles' second album was a cover version of Smokey Robinson and The Miracles' You've Really Got A Hold On Me, originally a hit in 1962.

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The Beatles' subtly-retitled version of Smokey Robinson's Motown million-seller featured Lennon on lead vocals, with Harrison providing close harmonies and McCartney on backing vocals.

A lot of our tracks may not have been 'cool'. I think if we'd just been cool, we wouldn't have made it how we did. But that was a great aspect of us. John would do A Shot Of Rhythm And Blues or You Really Got A Hold On Me - you could call that cool.
Paul McCartney

Although You've Really Got A Hold On Me wasn't yet a big hit in the UK, The Beatles were aware of it through imported copies arriving in Liverpool from America, where The Miracles enjoyed continued success with it throughout the winter of 1962.

The second album was slightly better than the first, inasmuch as we spent more time on it, and there were more original songs. We did Money for that album, and other cover versions: Please Mister Postman, You Really Got A Hold On Me and Devil In Her Heart.
George Harrison

The group first recorded You Really Got A Hold On Me on 24 May 1963, for an episode of the BBC radio show Pop Go The Beatles. It was first broadcast on 4 June.

The Beatles recorded it three more times for the BBC, on 16 July, 30 July and 3 September 1963. The 30 July attempt can be heard on the Live At The BBC album.

A live version, recorded at the Karlaplansstudion in Stockholm, Sweden on 24 October 1963, was included on Anthology 1 in 1995.

In the studio

The Beatles recorded You Really Got A Hold On Me on 18 July 1963. It was the first song attempted during the first session for the With The Beatles album. That day they also recorded Money (That's What I Want), Devil In Her Heart and Till There Was You.

The group took seven attempts to perfect it, though only four were complete takes. They then recorded four edit pieces, numbered takes 8-11, which including overdubs of the word 'baby' and the instrumental coda which closes the song.

The final master version was an edit made of takes 7, 10 and 11. This was made on 21 August; the same day the mono mix for the LP was made. The stereo mix was made on 29 October, ahead of the album's 22 November UK release.


I don't like you, but I love you
Seems that I'm always thinking of you
Oh, oh, oh, you treat me badly
I love you madly
You've really got a hold on me
You've really got a hold on me, baby

I don't want you, but I need you
Don't want to kiss you but I need you
Oh, oh, oh, you do me wrong now
My love is strong now
You've really got a hold on me
You've really got a hold on me, baby

I love you and all I want you to do
Is just hold me, hold me, hold me, hold me


I want to leave you, don't want to stay here
Don't want to spend another day here
Oh, oh, oh, I want to split now
I just can't quit now
You've really got a hold on me
You've really got a hold on me, baby

I love you and all I want you to do
Is just hold me, hold me, hold me, hold me

You've really got a hold on me
You've really got a hold on me

12 responses on “You Really Got A Hold On Me

  1. GniknuS

    That’s definitely John singing that line. It’s pretty shocking to hear the album version versus the version played during the Let It Be movie. John’s voice was a million times stronger in 1963.

    1. D.B.

      In 1963, they played it in A, but for Let It Be it wound up in the Miracles’ higher key of C. Lennon probably couldn’t have sung that high back then anyway. They probably only changed it so Billy Preston could play it.

  2. Jack

    I have a feeling that the cut on With The Beatles was actually performed in G or G#, which was then sped up on the tape machine to A – there are a lot of unnatural sounding runs for John. And though, while his voice may well have been stronger voice in 1963 compared to say 1970, the deftness at which he sings certain passages is slightly difficult to comprehend. Try slowing the track down 5% in a DAW, it instantly lifts a veil from John’s voice and the sound of the band (John was notorious for asking the Abbey Road engineers to find new ways to masque the natural sound of his voice, and possibly with this cut in an attempt to make it sound more like the Smokey Robinson version – it’s all over Beatles records, Magical Mystery Tour, Lucy In The Sky, Strawberry Fields Forever).

    May spark a debate, but it’s a theory backed by gut intuition.

    1. Allan Todd

      Interesting theory which Jack proposes (varispeeding up from key of G to A… I doubt that any guitarist would volunteer to play a song in Ab/G#, except by detuning their instrument!) — if this is the case it is surely (by a couple of years) the first use by the Beatles of varispeed?

  3. cold turkey 1987

    A perfect song for the beatles to pick from circa 1963. I like the miracles version but I feel the beatles wrung out all of the beauty contained in this song.

  4. Bongo

    Although I love the Canadian Capitol version of this (as well as the U.K. LP, same song list), it’ s just a great rocking album, and this song is just another great song in their arsenal!

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