Revisit rare home audio of John Lennon recording ‘If I Fell’ from 1964
Exploring the Far Out Magazine archives, we’ve unearthed some unknown homemade clips of former Beatle John Lennon recording a version of the glorious song ‘If I Fell’. For any Beatles fan, this clip is like gold dust.
It’s largely seen as one of Lennon’s first attempts at moving his songwriting into a new direction. Prior to this song the band had simply written pop tunes but ‘If I Fell’ sees Lennon growing as a songwriter and attempting to push his own boundaries.
The home recordings are thought to date back to January 1964 and capture the band in the middle of Beatlemania. The audio sees Lennon attempting to turn in a different direction of songwriting. “That’s my first attempt at a ballad proper,” Lennon once said in an interview with Playboy in 1980.
“It shows that I wrote sentimental love ballads way back when,” he added despite McCartney later claiming that the pair wrote the song together.
The song would later be included on The Beatles’ third studio album, A Hard Day’s Night, a record which collects songs from the soundtrack to their film of the same name. The structure of the track was a working development with the final recording using an alternative ending. As another anomaly, the song also finds both Lennon and McCartney sharing a single microphone in the studio to lay down their iconic harmonies.
In the 1997 Barry Miles biography of McCartney titled Many Years From Now, the former Beatles man looked back at the process of making the track with eternal fondness: “People tend to forget that John wrote some pretty nice ballads,” he said.
“People tend to think of him as an acerbic wit and aggressive and abrasive, but he did have a very warm side to him really which he didn’t like to show too much in case he got rejected. We wrote ‘If I Fell’ together but with the emphasis on John because he sang it. It was a nice harmony number, very much a ballad.”
While officially released in July 1964 as part of the album, ‘If I Fell’ was later made available as the B-side of the US single ‘And I Love Her’ and, following that, it was released in December 1964 as the A-side of a single ‘Tell Me Why’ in the UK.
In truth though, the formation of the song came months before. In the below recordings, Lennon can be heard running through four raw demos of the track which offers alternative takes, detailed chord progression and gentle vocals.