I Should Have Known Better

Album: A Hard Day's Night (1964)
Charted: 53


  • Composed by John Lennon, at first he "hammers the melody on the same note." (The Italian composer Monteverdi discovered the effect of hammering on the same note. He called the style "stile concitato"). Then comes the middle part in long notes. The middle part has a change of keynote, which is unusual with such a change in a middle part. And then the rise in falsetto. Typical of Lennon's songs, there is also a rise of excitement. When you think that the mood will cool a little - when you come to the middle part - the excitement instead increases. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Johan Cavalli, a music historian in Stockholm
  • The Beatles performed this in their first movie, A Hard Day's Night. It was used in a scene where The Beatles sing it to a group of girls, one of which was played by an actress named Pattie Boyd. This was the first time George Harrison met her - he fell for her and married her a few years later. They divorced in 1977, and Pattie married Harrison's friend Eric Clapton in 1979. That marriage also ended in divorce, but along the way, Pattie inspired some of the most famous songs of all time, including The Beatles' "Something" and Clapton's "Layla."
  • This was done in three takes on Tuesday, February 25, 1964. But it didn't end there - they completely remade it the next day. The take you hear on record is Take 22. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Ben - Cheverly, MD
  • John Lennon's vocal was double-tracked to make it stand out.
  • This was released as the B-side of "A Hard Day's Night."
  • Lennon played the harmonica solo.
  • McCartney played a 12-string electric guitar on this track. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Bertrand - Paris, France
  • At first, Lennon was proud of the composition, and said in 1964 that the song was one of the three best songs in the film A Hard Days Night. Later on he lost his self-confidence as a lyricist, and would often slag off his own songs as meaningless. He said in 1980 that "I Should Have Known Better" is, "just a song, it doesn't mean a damn thing."

Comments: 44

  • David Breitkopf from New YorkI was wondering if the Beatles ever performed I should have known better live? I didn’t find a version on YouTube, and I’ve googled the question and there is no indication from any webpages that they did in fact play it live. To my mind, it’s a remarkably strong song and shows a certain level of confidence that they reach where they could just toss off a great song like I should’ve known better. So my question did they play it live?
  • Randy from Memphis, Tn"And I didn't realize what a kiss could be" (Every Brothers, "I Kissed You")
  • Sam Williams from Sherman Oaks Ca. This shouldn’t come to much of a surprise to people who really know their Beatles history, but John was probably thinking of “Cathy’s Clown” by The Everly Brothers when he was writing this song. Notice the similarities between the chord changes in both of these songs (notice how both songs go back and forth between G and D and then there’s a break with an E Minor to C to D) obviously what separates those two songs is the bridge in this song and there’s no real dominate harmony vocal in this tune and not in the Everly Brothers song. (Cathy’s Clown has a completely different bridge then this tune, but you get the idea).
  • Seth from Bellingham, WashingtonThat was filmed on George's 21st Birthday. Maybe that's why he's dancing as he plays.
  • Jennifur Sun from RamonaFound out about a year ago that the scene in the movie with this song, was them in an empty train car with the crew if the movie shaking it like it was moving. Always sort of chuckle about John pulling that ace out of his sleeve (shame upon him).
  • Zero from The Abyss, NjWhoever Plays the solo played the 12-string, I think. Paul plays lead sometimes, but I think at this point George was the primary lead player.
  • Johan from Stockholm, SwedenLennons I Should Have Known Better was a number one hit in Norway 1964,
    Lennons Do You Want to Know a Secret was number one in US 1981,
    Lennons If I Fell was number one in Norway 1964,
    Lennons This Boy was number one in Canada,
    Lennons Nowhere Man was number one in Australia and Canada.
    These songs are n e v e r mentioned, when listening the Beatles number one hits, but always all McCartneys. George Martin and McCartney nevre give PR to these songs.
  • Faith from Brooklyn, NyWe can sit here and praise the cuteness of the song, Paul, John and even Ringo, but I just fell in love with George's footwork. TOO CUTE FOR WORDS. I wonder way he moved in this way for the song.
  • Jim from Morgantown, WvI was under the impression that it was George Harrison who played the 12-string.
  • Johan from Stockholm, SwedenIn a voting at Beatlessweden.com, "I Should Have Known Better" considered as the best song i the "A Hard Day´s Night" album.
    Johan Cavalli
  • Dryattz from Atlanta, GaHe: "I love you."
    She: "I love you, too."
    He: "Will you be mine?"
    She: "I love you, too."
    He: "But, will you be mine?"
    She: "I love you, too."
    He: "If this is love, you gotta give me more."
    She: "I love you, too."
    He: "Give me more, hey, hey, hey, give me more?"
    She: "I love you, too."
    He: "No, no! I'm asking you a different question."
    She: "I love you, too."
    He: "When I tell you that I love you, you say you love me, too. Oh! But when I ask you to be mine, you again say you love me, too."
    She: "I love you, too."
    He: "Are you a girl who can only say 'I love you, too?'"
    She: "I love you, too."
    He: "I should have known better with a girl like you. . ."
    She: "I love you, too."
  • Jake Smith from Elmhurst, Ilif this is music you've got to give me more
  • Stephanie from Vinton, VaIvette in LA, Paul McCartney is very much alive. John and George are no longer with us.
  • Frank from Salt Lake City, Uti love this song and the movie sooooooooo much!!!!! john had an amazing voice!!
  • Breanna from Henderson, NvThis is my favorite song off of "A Hard Day's Night". This is one of my favorite John songs from the early days.
  • Catresse from Lawrenceville, GaThis is one of the first songs i knew on A Hard Day's Night, and it always stayed in my head. Now its in my head..:)
  • Akiva from Manhattan, Nythis is an awesome song the movie is pretty stupid but its the beatles so its still awesome
  • Paul from Chatham, NjI'm going to guess the reason Paul pretends to be singing is to cover up the fact that John otherwise would appear to be both singing and playing the harmonica at the same time. This was an effort to make the video look 'live'. By 1964 they had multi-tracking available so the same person could be playing or singing multiple parts. When the Beatles recorded Love Me Do in 1962, they did not have multi-tracking, so a similar solution was used: John sang lead, but where the harmonica comes in Paul took over the lead vocal for just the phrase "Love me do-who."
  • Modernrocker79 from Kearny, NjAn early folk-rock song. It influenced Roger McGuinn to merge folk with rock.
  • Kayla from Nashville, Tni love this song! it so refreshing! i love the way John sings and i love the movie Hard Day's
  • Rosario from Naples, FlI'm 17 and this song is awesome, as is the movie "A Hard Days Night." I watched it for the first time when I was 6, and I love it so much that I watch it with my 3 year old sister all the time and I still laugh (a lot).
  • Catherine from Essex, United Kingdomim 16 couldnt live wiithout the beatles dont belon in todays worls, i need them and belong wioth them one day everything wwill come together . the beatles are the best and will live forever
  • Karen from Sao Paulo, Brazildid anyone realise that at the start of "hard days night "movie, that when george falls down and jumps back up was a real time event. so when you look at this remember it was real and you might be as me in the moment with them.kool huh.
    the makers of the film decided to use it .
    i think if john hadnt met yoko and had stay away from politics he would have been alive today.
  • Ivette from Los Angeles, Caoops my bad John n George
  • Ivette from Los Angeles, CaI know i wish John n Paul were still alive
  • Ivette from Los Angeles, CaThis is my fav song of the beatles i luv them so much
  • Ivette from La, CaThis is my #1 fav song about the beatles I luv how John plays the Harmonica n how Paul plays the 12 String Electrive Guitar i hear this song all the times!!!
  • Jeff from Austin, TxMy favorite Beatles song and one of my all time top 5. That chorus still sends shivers up my spine every time I hear it. It's just so damn perfect.
  • Krissy from Boston, MaI am 14 and love The Beatles. This is really good song. In the movie Paul's lips are moving but he not sing in the song it's just John.
  • Krista from Elyria, OhThis is such a lively song! Thats what I like about the early years, yet I like later songs better!
  • Alexander from Virginia Beach, VaThe first Songfact is somewhat incorrect. Pattie Boyd did not inspire the song "Something". George Harrison said more than once that he was thinking of Ray Charles when he wrote the song.
  • Dirk from Nashville, Tn14-year-old Andrew from Missouri--Yes, you're right. The part in the movie "A Hard Day's Night" where the Beatles appear to perform this song on the train was indeed pre-recorded. Unfortunately, so was every other performance in the movie. And just as unfortunate, the same is true of almost every big-screen movie ever made (there several wonderful exceptions we won't go into here). But don't be disillusioned. It's just the nature of movies--even today. In the movies, it costs SO much money to roll the cameras that you just can't have singers and musicians flubbing through their movie performances trying to sing live. Even in the recording studio, a band might take 30 tries before they nail the song. Imagine going through that while 40 high-paid sound and lighting people are standing there behind the cameras, waiting for their lunch. The good news is that movie makers today are ten times better at getting musicians to look good while lip-synching than they were 40 years ago. Back then 45-year-old movie directors had no earthly idea what to do with 22-year-old rock-n-roll singers.
  • Bob from Los Angeles, MsAwesome song, though I thought "That when I tell you that I love you, oh, You're gonna say you love me too, hoo, hoo, hoo, hoo, oh, And when I ask you to be mine, You're gonna say you love me too" was showing John's control issues.
  • Jo-c from Lima, PeruOne of my all-time favourite songs. This song is a classic, it gets played everywhere I go. Amazing melody. John's harmonica is great, and George does an outstanding 12-string solo.
  • Lee from Clearwater, Flit reminds us of that one girl we have all experienced at one time or another. She never wanted to go steady, just play the field, and we wanted her all to ourselves. (the pains of growing up)
  • Stefanie Magura from Rock Hill, ScFun song!!!
  • Ben from Cheverly, MdI first heard this song when I was 8 years old, in the movie we all know as "A Hard Day's Night." I've loved it ever since.............
  • Jude from Thomasville, GaThis is such a fun song - you can't be blue while you're listening. I always picture Ringo slapping cards down and grinning. The Beatles are just terrific musicians and I hope all their teenage fans enjoy them as much as I did waaaaaay back when.
  • Jordan from Toronto, CanadaI'm 15. And this is actually the first song I remember hearing on the radio....ever! I must have been like 2....it got me hooked for life.
  • Kristen from Aurora, IlYeah I am 17 and I love the Beatles!!!!!!!
  • Dave from Springfield, United Statesi have a promo record from Holland that has this song on it, and it sounds like they redubbed the harmonica. I also have a Russian (Soviet at that time) Promo record, which has a third harmonica part. Am I just listening weirdly to the music and want to hear different harmonica part, or did someone actually take the time to rerecord the perfectly ok harmonica THREE TIMES!!!
  • Liliana from Huntley, Ilim 15, any other teenage beatle fans? oh , and i liked this song since the first time i heard it but i didn't know it was the beatles... i should have known better
  • Zack from Dallas, TxOne of my favorite parts of the movie A hard days night is when they perform this song on the tain. If you look closely you will see an amazing talent of John's. He actualy sings through the Harmonica.
    Anyways it was a great movie and song.
  • Chet from Saratoga Springs, NyIn the movie "A Hard Day's Night" the song was performed in a van while stage hands rocked it back and forth to give the illusion of being on a train.
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