I Should Have Known Better

This article is about the song by the Beatles. For other uses, see I Should Have Known Better (disambiguation).
"I Should Have Known Better"
Single by the Beatles
A-side "A Hard Day's Night"
Released 13 July 1964
Format vinyl record (7")
Recorded 25–26 February 1964,
EMI Studios, London
Genre Pop rock
Length 2:44
Label Capitol
Writer(s) Lennon–McCartney
Producer(s) George Martin
The Beatles US singles chronology
"Love Me Do"
"A Hard Day's Night"
"And I Love Her"
The Beatles UK singles chronology
"Let It Be"
"Back in the U.S.S.R."

"I Should Have Known Better" is a song by English rock band the Beatles composed by John Lennon[1][2] (credited to Lennon–McCartney), and originally issued on A Hard Day's Night, their soundtrack for the film of the same name released July 10, 1964. I Should Have Known Better was issued as the B-side of the U.S. single A Hard Day's Night released July 13, 1964. An orchestrated version of the song conducted by George Martin appears on the North American version of the album, A Hard Day's Night Original Motion Picture Soundtrack.


In January 1964, during a three-week engagement at the Olympia Theatre in Paris, the Beatles first became aware of American singer and songwriter Bob Dylan, and after acquiring a copy of his album The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan, they began playing it continuously.[3] American journalist Al Aronowitz introduced them to Dylan when the Beatles visited New York City in February 1964, and Dylan subsequently became a big influence on the group, especially Lennon, who even started wearing a copycat Huckleberry Finn cap.[4] One consequence of this “infatuation” (as Ian MacDonald later described it) was the song "I Should Have Known Better."[5] Paul McCartney said Dylan's songs were "great lyrically,"[6] and Lennon credited Dylan with inspiring him to write more meaningful lyrics.[7]


The first recording session for the song was on 25 February 1964 at Abbey Road Studios when three takes were attempted, but only one was complete. Take 2 was aborted when Lennon broke into hysterics over his harmonica playing. The song was re-recorded the next day after making some changes to the arrangement.[8]

Lennon's harmonica playing opens the track, the last occasion the Beatles were to feature this instrument on an intro ("I'm a Loser," recorded 14 August 1964 has a harmonica solo) and thus draws a line under a significant period of their early music. The song's middle sixteen section features George Harrison's brand new Rickenbacker 360/12 12-string guitar.[5]

The mono and stereo versions have slightly different harmonica introductions. In the stereo version, the harmonica drops out briefly.[9] (A stereo edit that fixes this mistake appears uniquely on the US Capitol release of the 1982 Beatles compilation Reel Music.) Also, a noticeably clumsy and audible tape edit is heard during the second chorus between "And when I ask you to be mine" and "You're gonna say you love me, too."


United Kingdom

In the UK, "I Should Have Known Better" appeared on A Hard Day's Night and was released on 10 July 1964. It was not released as a single at that time. In 1976, it was released as a B-side to "Yesterday."[10][11]

United States

In the US, "I Should Have Known Better" was released on 13 July 1964 as the B-side to "A Hard Day's Night"[12][13] and reached No. 53 in the Billboard Top 100, and No. 43 on the Cash Box chart. Of note, there were four higher-charting Beatles' hits blocking its entrance into the Top 40.

As part of the movie contract, United Artists acquired album rights for the American market.[14] They released a soundtrack album on 26 June 1964 with eight Beatles songs and four instrumentals. "I Should Have Known Better" was performed in the film, and it appears on the soundtrack. Capitol Records released Something New a month later with songs from the UK version of A Hard Day's Night that were not used in the film. It was later released by Capitol on the Hey Jude compilation album in 1970.[15]

Continental Europe

"I Should Have Known Better" was released as a single in a number of continental European countries, including Norway, where it reached number one,[16] and West Germany, where it reached number six.[17]


Personnel per Ian MacDonald[5]

On film

The song is performed in the train compartment scene of A Hard Day's Night. It was in fact filmed in a van, with crew members rocking the vehicle to fake the action of a train in motion. Paul McCartney is seen lip-syncing in the song in both the train scene and in the live performance at the end of the film, despite not singing in the actual recording.[18]

Cover versions



  • The Beatles (2000). The Beatles Anthology. London: Cassell& Co. ISBN 0-304-35605-0. 
  • Cross, Craig (2005). The Beatles: Day-by-Day, Song-by-Song, Record-by-Record. Lincoln, NE: iUniverse, Inc. ISBN 0-595-34663-4. 
  • Dowlding, William (1989). Beatlesongs. 
  • "German Top 20 - The Chart of 1964". Inifity Charts. 2009. Retrieved 9 December 2009. 
  • Harry, Bill (2000). The Beatles Encyclopedia: Revised and Updated. London: Virgin Publishing. ISBN 0-7535-0481-2. 
  • Lewisohn, Mark (1988). The Beatles Recording Sessions. New York: Harmony Books. ISBN 0-517-57066-1. 
  • MacDonald, Ian (2005). Revolution in the Head: The Beatles' Records and the Sixties (Second Revised ed.). London: Pimlico (Rand). ISBN 1-84413-828-3. 
  • Miles, Barry (1997). Paul McCartney: Many Years From Now. New York: Henry Holt & Company. ISBN 0-8050-5249-6. 
  • Sheff, David (2000). All We Are Saying: The Last Major Interview with John Lennon and Yoko Ono. New York: St. Martin's Press. ISBN 0-312-25464-4. 
  • "Topp 20 Single uke 42, 1964". MUSIKKEXTRA. 2009. Retrieved 9 December 2009. 

External links

Wikiquote has quotations related to: A Hard Day's Night (album)
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