Written by Paul McCartney about his then-faltering relationship with Jane Asher, ‘You Won’t See Me’ was recorded during The Beatles’ last session for the Rubber Soul album.
It was written at her parents’ house in London’s Wimpole Street, while Asher had temporarily moved away from McCartney to perform in an adaptation of Great Expectations at the Old Vic theatre in Bristol. The song recounts McCartney’s frustration and vulnerability at being unable to contact her.
At 3’23”, ‘You Won’t See Me’ was The Beatles’ longest recording to date. The song was written by McCartney alone, and was inspired by the Tamla Motown sound.
This was written around two little notes, a very slim phrase, a two-note progression that I had very high on the first two strings of the guitar: the E and the B strings. I had it high up on the high E position, and I just let the note on the B string descend a semitone at a time, and kept the top note the same, and against that I was playing a descending chromatic scale. Then I wrote the tune for ‘You Won’t See Me’ against it…
To me it was very Motown-flavoured. It’s got a James Jamerson feel. He was the Motown bass player, he was fabulous, the guy who did all those great melodic bass lines. It was him, me and Brian Wilson who were doing melodic bass lines at that time, all from completely different angles, LA, Detroit and London, all picking up on what each other did.
Many Years From Now, Barry Miles
In the studio
The Beatles took part in a 13-hour session to finish Rubber Soul, beginning at 6pm on 11 November 1965 and ending at 7am the following morning.
The group recorded two takes of the rhythm track and a number of overdubs for ‘You Won’t See Me’. These included a Hammond organ part played by The Beatles’ assistant Mal Evans, whose contribution was limited to a single note held throughout the final verse.
The Beatles also recorded ‘Girl’ during the same session, and completed the songs ‘Wait’ and ‘I’m Looking Through You’ by adding additional overdubs to existing rhythm tracks.
There is no lead guitar. John played the rhythm guitar during the backing recording, while George played tambourine. Ringo played drums on the backing track and overdubbed the hi-hat part.