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John Lennon wrote this song. One of his early compositions, it is seemingly simple, but very clever. The song contains only a few notes, but the space between the notes is filled by the arrangements. It's the same technique you hear in Liszt's "Liebestraum," the piano piece in Schumann's Davidsbündlertänze
and in Beethoven's "Moonlight Sonata
This was the first Beatles composition that was commented on by a music critic. William Mann wrote in The London Times December 27, 1963, that the song had "pendiatonic clusters." (thanks to Johan Cavalli, who is a music historian in Stockholm, for above 2)
George Harrison: "It was John (Lennon) trying to do Smokey (Robinson)."
The vocals were a three part harmony sung by Harrison, Lennon and McCartney.
The Beatles performed this on their second Ed Sullivan Show
appearance - Feb 16, 1964. They played six songs on the show that night, and this provided a slow change of pace from the uptempo songs like "She Loves You
" and "I Want To Hold Your Hand
." The Beatles were just beginning their breakthrough in America and got a huge audience from the show.
This was used in Ringo's big scene in The Beatles movie A Hard Day's Night. The version used in the film is an instrumental renamed "Ringo's Theme (This Boy)," and without any harmony singing.
This was one of the first songs on which The Beatles used a 4-track recorder. (thanks, Jes - Mason City, IA)
Artists to cover this song include Tom Baxter, David Bowie, Sean Lennon, George Martin, Delbert McClinton and The Nylons. (thanks, Bertrand - Paris, France)
Mike Watt - "History Lesson, Pt. 2"
Mike Watt of the Minutemen tells the story of the song that became an Indie Rock touchstone. It's also the story of what Mike calls "The Movement."
Reverend Horton Heat
The Reverend rants on psychobilly and the egghead academics he bashes in one of his more popular songs.
On Glen's résumé: hit songwriter, Facebook dominator, and member of Styx.