Ticket to Ride is a song by The Beatles, written mostly by John Lennon (credited Lennon/McCartney. It was featured on their album Help!. It was released as a single in 1965, with "Yes It Is" as its B-side.
The new year saw a change in the Beatles and George Martin's recording technique. They would rehearse new songs in the studio with the tapes running. Once they felt they had reached perfection, the tapes would be spooled back and proper takes would be recorded over the rehearsals, resulting in longer studio sessions but more economical in terms of tape since take numbers remained relatively low. Rhythm tracks would be recorded first with unnumbered overdubs "dropped in" at will, whereas before every overdub would have been allotted a new number.
"Ticket To Ride" was the first song tackled on Monday, February 15, during the afternoon. Although this session lasted all afternoon, because of the new recording procedure, the song was captured in just two takes, with the first having an immediate false start. Track one consisted of drums and bass. Track two had the rhythm and lead guitars. John's lead vocal on track three and tambourine, backing vocals and some additional guitar on track four.
Americans concluded the 'ticket' was from British Railways, and 'ride' was the town of 'Ryde' on the Isle of Wight. McCartney confessed to his biographer (Barry Miles) that they were partly right. Paul had a cousin who ran a bar in Ryde and he and John had visited them there. Paul later mentioned that although the song was primarily about a girl riding out of the life of the narrator, they were conscious of the potential for a double meaning. Because John claimed the song was entirely his and Paul says that they both wrote it, the true authorship will have to remain a mystery. Paul played both bass and lead guitar on the song, as well as coming up with the distinctive drum pattern that Ringo eventually played on the recording.
Don Short, who traveled with the Beatles in the '60s, recalled that John coined the phrase "Ticket to Ride" for another meaning - The girls who worked the streets in Hamburg had to have a clean bill of health and the authorities would give them a card saying they were clean. Don later said that although he specifically recalls John telling him that, John could have been joking - you had to be careful with him like that.
"Ticket To Ride" was the first choice for the songs to be included in their yet-untitled second feature film. It was used during their sequence in Obertauern, Austria in mid-March 1965 where the band tried their hand at skiing. When the single was released in America, the Capitol "swirl" label included the remark "From The United Artists Release 'Eight Arms To Hold You'," which was the original discarded title of their second film which, of course, later became Help!.
- John Lennon - rhythm guitar (1961 Fender Stratocaster), lead vocals
- Paul McCartney - bass guitar (1963 Hofner 500/1), lead guitar (1964 Epiphone 230TD Casino), backing vocals
- George Harrison lead guitar (1963 Rickenbacker 360/12)
- Ringo Starr - Drums, tambourine
Note: some sources say George sang backing vocal; other sources say he played rhythm guitar rather than lead.