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"I'm Down"
Single by The Beatles
A-side "Help!"
Released 19 July 1965
Format 7"
Recorded 14 June 1965
Abbey Road
Genre Rock and Roll
Length 2:30 (stereo)
2:33 (mono)
Label Capitol Records
Writer(s) Lennon/McCartney
Producer George Martin
The Beatles singles chronology
"Ticket to Ride"
(1965)
"Help!"
(1965)
"We Can Work It Out" / "Day Tripper"
(UK-1965)
-----
"Yesterday"
(US-1965)

"I'm Down" is a twelve-bar-blues song by the Beatles written by Paul McCartney (credited to Lennon/McCartney) and first released as the B-side to the single "Help!" in 1965. According to critic Richie Unterberger of Allmusic, "I'm Down" is "one of the most frantic rockers in the entire Beatles catalog."[1] The song was influenced by 1950s rhythm & blues artists—Amazon.com called it a "homage to Little Richard."[2]—and some critics see it as a rewrite of Little Richard's "Long Tall Sally", but Unterberger says there are significant differences.[1] Another example of this style song by McCartney is 1964's "She's a Woman", the B-side of "I Feel Fine".

Contents

Recording

The Beatles recorded "I'm Down" on 14 June 1965 in the same session as "Yesterday" and "I've Just Seen a Face".[3]

The Beatles recorded the backing track in seven takes. The first of these takes can be heard on Anthology 2, with a quiet organ track and no backing vocals. During the session, particularly between takes one and two, McCartney can be heard repeating the phrase "Plastic soul, man, plastic soul". He later revealed that the phrase, which The Beatles later adapted for the title of their album Rubber Soul, was used by black musicians to describe Mick Jagger.[4 ]

Release

The official release date for the "Help"/"I'm Down" single was 19 July 1965 on Capitol Records in the US and 23 July on Parlophone in the UK. "I'm Down" was never released on an official Beatle studio album, and was only available in the US. in mono as the B-side of the "Help!" single until the summer of 1976. That year, it appeared in stereo on Rock 'n' Roll Music, a compilation LP released in the US by Capitol featuring up tempo Beatles' tracks. The first CD release was in 1988 on the compilation Past Masters, Volume One, where it appeared in true stereo. [5]

There is also an alternate version of the song (take 1) on Anthology 2. The tempo is slower and there are no backing vocals.[6]

Live performances

The Beatles used "I'm Down" to close concerts in their final year as a live act replacing "Long Tall Sally" for most of those shows.[7]

During their performance at Shea Stadium in August 1965 (the largest audience the Beatles ever drew during their career as a live touring band), the band played a memorably frenzied version of the song, with John Lennon playing a Vox Continental Organ with his elbows at times. Footage of this performance may be seen on The Beatles Anthology video.

The band also played this song during their 12 September 1965 appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show which was recorded 14 August, 1965, the day before the Shea concert. Lennon played the keyboard with his elbow for this performance as well. However, Lennon played guitar, rather than organ, for a version recorded in Tokyo on their 1966 tour even though a Vox organ was set up on stage.

McCartney played the song to open his set at The Concert for New York City following the terrorist attack of September 11, 2001. The concert was held at Madison Square Garden in support of firefighters, policemen, and other public workers who suffered from the aftermath of the attacks. He also reintroduced "I'm Down" into his set list for his three historic concerts at Citi Field, the new Shea stadium, in July 2009.

Personnel

Personnel per Ian MacDonald.[8]

Cover versions

  • Heart covered this song as a medley with "Long Tall Sally" on their 1980 album Greatest Hits: Live. It was on the live side of the album.
  • In 1982, Adrian Belew released his second solo record, Twang Bar King, which began with a version of this song.
  • In 1982, Jay Ferguson recorded it for his album White Noise.
  • Aerosmith recorded a cover version of this song for the band's 1987 album Permanent Vacation.
  • Deacon Blue released a live cover version of this song as a B-side on their 1991 single, "Twist and Shout" (which is a different song than the Beatles' recording of the same name).
  • The Kentucky Headhunters included a cover version on their 2006 album Big Boss Man.
  • A live cover of this song appears on the YesYears box set by Yes.
  • The Punkles recorded a punk version of this song for their second album, Punk!.

Notes

References

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