It Won't Be Long is the opening track on With The Beatles, The Beatles' second UK album, and was the first original song recorded for it. The song was started by John Lennon, as a potential follow-up single to "She Loves You"; but was discarded because, as John has said, "it never really made it." Although credited to Lennon-McCartney, it was primarily a John Lennon composition, with Paul McCartney assisting with the lyrics and arrangement.
The chorus is a play on the words "be long" and "belong". The song features early Beatles' trademarks such as call-and-response yeah-yeahs and scaling guitar riffs. Typical also of this phase of Beatles' song writing is the melodramatic ending (similar to "She Loves You", which had just been recorded and was about to be released) where the music stops, allowing Lennon a brief solo vocal improvisation before the song finishes on a major seventh chord ("She Loves You" ended as a major sixth). There is a usual middle eight-for what is, essentially, a rock and roll song-that uses chromatically descending chords.
John Lennon, in his last interview, told Playboy magazine that the song was the beginning of a wider audience for the Beatles' music than the youthful throngs that had fervently followed them their Liverpool clubbing days. "It was only after a critic for the [London] Times said we put 'Aeolian cadences' in 'It Won't Be Long' that the middle classes started listening to us.... To this day I have no idea what 'Aeolian cadences' are. They sound like exotic birds. Actually the critic, William Mann, said this about the song "Not a Second Time ." Bob Dylan had much the same thing in mind when he wrote the Beatles chords were "outrageous, just outrageous."
Recording and release Edit
The Beatles recorded this song on July 30, 1963 in two sessions. The first session was in the morning, where recorded 10 takes. The second session was in the afternoon where they recorded seven takes, misnumbered as takes 17-23. The final product was a combination of takes 17 and 21, put together on August 21.
The song was never performed live or at any of the group's BBC sessions, although they did lip-synch to the track on an edition of Ready Steady Go! in March 1964.
- John Lennon - double-tracked lead vocals, rhythm guitar (1958 Rickenbacker 325)
- Paul McCartney - background vocals, bass guitar (1961 Hofner 500/1)
- George Harrison - background vocals, lead guitar (1962 Gretsch 6122 Country Gentleman)
- Ringo Starr - drums
- George Martin - producer
- Norman Smith - engineer
Personnel by Ian MacDonald
- Performed by Julian Lennon on his 1985 Valotte Tour.
- Performed by Evan Rachel Wood in the 2007 film Across the Universe.
- Covered by House of Heroes on their 2009 EP, House of Heroes Meet the Beatles.
- Covered by Indie rock band Franz Ferdinand
- Covered by Power pop band The Quick on their 1976 album Mondo Deco.
- Covered by Richard Thompson on his 2003 album 1000 Years of Popular Music.
- Covered by Yellow Matter Custard on their 2011 live album One More Night In New York City.