When I was eight years old, I took on extra chores around the house so that my parents would give me enough money to buy tickets to the Enid, OK premier of A Hard Day's Night at the Chief Theater. I was thrilled to be there at the premier and of course I loved the movie and the music, but was a bit too young to really understand what a great film it is. Furthermore I did not see the gigantic song writing step forward by Lennon and McCartney. For years I was a bit torn about the US LP by that name because it contained a generous portion of George Martin orchestrated instrumental versions of some of the songs. I also purchased their Capitol LP Something New, which was really a scatter shot collection of songs left off the US AHDN album, plus some singles and b-sides. And in some way I preferred that record because it had some amazing songs like Things We Said Today, Any Time at All, When I Get Home, And I Love Her, and If I Fell.
Then during my early college years in the mid-70s I acquired the British version of the LP. And immediately I realized that Capitol records (and United Arists) had done us a great disservice. The "real" A Hard Day's Night is perhaps the first true Beatles' masterpiece. Even the running order is important to the experience of listening to these songs, and now I immediately know what will come next.
Tucked away at the very end of the LP is a song that just hits me like a ton of bricks every time I listen. I'll Be Back is John Lennon at his early peak. Not the upbeat closer that one would expect, but rather a thoughtful and beautiful exploration of how tenuous love can be. The acoustic guitar work is just amazing, what with the three-against-four rhythms. John sings it with a compassion that perfectly fits the lyrics. A real hidden gem on an album full of first class song writing.
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