The Beatles 40 best songs: at 26 “If I fell”


“That’s my first attempt at a ballad proper….It shows that I wrote sentimental love ballads way back when”
– John Lennon (1980)

“People forget that John wrote some nice ballads, 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.”
– Paul McCartney

If I Fell”  by The Beatles  first appeared in 1964 on the album A Hard Day’s Night in the United Kingdom and on the North American album Something New. It was mainly written by John Lennon, and credited to Lennon–McCartney. 

Musically, it was one of Lennon’s cleverest songs to date: The harmonic tricks of its strummy, offbeat opening were miles beyond what other bands were doing at the time, and it was “dripping with chords,” as McCartney said. It also showcased some of the Beatles’ finest singing. Lennon and McCartney shared a single microphone for their Everly Brothers-like close harmonies.

“[‘If I Fell’] was the precursor to ‘In My Life,'” Lennon pointed out later. “It has the same chord sequences: D and B minor and E minor, those kind of things. It shows that I wrote sentimental love ballads, silly love songs, way back when.”

– Rolling Stone Magazine

…by the way, Rolling Stone Magazine rate the song at 26 of the hundred best Beatles songs.

Released 10 July 1964
Recorded 27 February 1964, EMI Studos, London
Genre Folk rock, Pop
Length 2:22
Label Parlophone
Writer Lennon–McCartney
Producer George Martin

The Beatles – If I fell (Studio version):

  • John Lennon – lead vocal and acoustic rhythm guitar
  • Paul McCartney – lead vocal and bass
  • George Harrison – twelve-string lead guitar
  • Ringo Starr – drums

If I Fell was done in 15 takes on 27 February 1964. They also did Tell Me Why and the second and final remake of And I Love Her the same date. The one heard on the album is the 15th take.


if i fell1

On more than one occasion it was jokingly introduced as “If I Fell Over”. The live performances of the song were a bit faster than the studio recording. Bootlegs also show Lennon and McCartney vainly attempting to suppress laughter while singing the song and at the time it was one of the rare ballads on their live set-list.

The Beatles – If I fell (Live at 1964/09/03 Indiana State Fair):

“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.”
– Paul McCartney

McCartney probably contributed to the introduction, it is musically quite different from the rest of the song  and it sounds “McCartneyish”.

The Beatles – If I fell (from A Hard Day’s Night, the film):

The Beatles recorded If I Fell twice for BBC. The first was on 14 July 1964 and the  second was on 17 July. One is included on the recently released On Air: Live at the BBC Volume 2:

The Beatles – If I fell (On Air: Live at the BBC Volume 2):

John Lennon’s lyrics for If I Fell, were sold at Sotheby’s in London for £7,800. It was  written on the back of a Valentine’s Day card.


The Beatles – If I fell (lyrics):

If I fell in love with you
Would you promise to be true
And help me understand
‘Cause I’ve been in love before
And I found that love was more
Than just holding hands

If I give my heart to you
I must be sure
From the very start
That you would love me more than her

If I trust in you oh please
Don’t run and hide
If I love you too oh please
Don’t hurt my pride like her

‘Cause I couldn’t stand the pain
And I would be sad if our new love was in vain

So I hope you see that I
Would love to love you
And that she will cry
When she learns we are two
If I fell in love with you

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– Egil & Hallgeir

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