The lyrics for this sad, yearning lament that's full of desire were taken from John Cooper Clarke's poem of the same name. The rhyme has been a staple setwork for British schoolboys for years, and vocalist Alex Turner explained to NME that it has been a huge inspiration for him as a lyricist: "I was your typical teenager, trying to be cool and not interested and the teacher proceeded to read 'I Wanna Be Yours,' doing an impression of Johnny," he recalled. "It made my ears prick up in the classroom because it was nothing like anything I'd heard, especially on this syllabus. Had I not seen him do his thing, I wouldn't have started writing like that."
This was the first song that the Monkeys have ever recorded with a drum machine. Producer James Ford told NME: "That's the thing, on the last record we tried to do a 'band in a room' type thing, with barely any computers used. It was very much to tape. But this one was a case of 'all bets are off'. The band wanted to push things on and do something different. So to move it on and make it sound different we were very open to using bits of keyboards or drum machines, or whatever worked for the song really. Obviously it still has to link into them and feel like them, but..."
Alex Turner said of the drum machine to NME: "It's the first time we've done that. An old Selmer drum machine, and the setting on it was 'Liverpool.'"
John Cooper Clarke recalled to NME penning his 'I Wanna Be Yours' poem: "I wrote it along with a load of others at the time, I tend to write like that," he said. "I remember when it was - about '83 or '84 or something like that. It's come to my attention that it's the wedding favourite. The number of people that have said, 'I had that read at my wedding', or 'My husband proposed to me using that number'... It's been very useful in the world of modern romance! It is to modern wedding ceremonies what 'Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life' by Eric Idle is to humanist funerals. I probably go to a great many more funerals than you do, so take it from me."
Alex Turner changed the odd bit for the Monkey's version, adding one of his own lines: "Secrets I have held in my heart. Are harder to hide than I thought." Clarke told NME that he expected some modifications. "I think that's great, that's what people do with songs," he said. "There's a tradition with this. Especially a number like that, because it cries out for updating because it uses brand names. One would expect it to be kind of updated, in much the same way that Sinatra might use different comparisons for a song like 'You're The Top' by Cole Porter."
Alex Turner recalled to Spin magazine meeting John Cooper Clarke at one of the poet's gigs in the very early days of the Arctic Monkeys. "I hadn't started writing our first tunes yet," he said. "We had just put this band together and I didn't know anything. I met him later that night, and we were like, 'We work on the bar and we actually have this band, and they're called the Arctic Monkeys.' And he's like, 'Ah, that's such a great name.' He's the first person and only person that's ever liked the name. He said, 'I love it. It's like a picture, a drama, this monkey in the snow!'"