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9 of The Best Beatle Intros

Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Ringo Starr, and John Lennon circa 1968

An often underappreciated element of the Beatles’ songwriting is their seemingly effortless ability to craft a truly memorable ‘intro.’ The art of writing a timeless song opening is a masterful skill. The Fab Four were particularly expert in doing so throughout their eight years together.

The band’s finest introductions are typically iconic in their own right, innovative for their time, and often acts of musical genius in and of themselves. Here are nine of the best intros by the Fab Four.

I Saw Her Standing There (1963)

One of the most simplistic yet impactful Beatles intros appears immediately on track one of their debut album Please Please Me.

Paul McCartney’s sharp and purposeful count of “One, Two, Three, Four!” injects raw energy into this relentless rock and roll classic.

The bouncing bassline and clanking guitar work are pure magic, perfectly setting the scene for the rest of the band’s first LP and also their formative years.

A Hard Day’s Night (1964)

“A Hard Day’s Night’s” intro is all about a single sound. This title track from the Beatles’ third album opens with a very distinctive note, created using a combination of twelve-string electric guitar, an acoustic six-string, bass, and piano. Strummed aggressively and left to ring out, the exact chord has become the subject of much speculation over the years.

“It is F with a G on top,” George Harrison would finally confirm in 2001. “But you’ll have to ask Paul about the bass note to get the proper story.”

I Feel Fine (1964)

“I Feel Fine” is one of the earliest examples of ‘feedback’ ever used on a studio recording.

Feedback is common in modern-day music with numerous artists choosing to use it excessively. But in the mid-1960s, the technique of utilizing interference between an electric instrument and speaker was much rarer, especially as part of the opening to a pop song.

It shouldn’t be understated, that the bassy groan at the beginning of “I Feel Fine,” which quickly morphs into a swirling wave of noise, was incredibly innovative for the time.

Eight Days A Week (1964)

In today’s music world, a ‘fade in’ hardly seems revolutionary. Yet the concept of a track slowly emerging from silence would have been a new experience to most listeners of 1960s mainstream music.

The Beatles’ use of the technique on their seventh number-one hit “Eight Days A Week,” both a daring and groundbreaking achievement, is widely regarded as the first occasion a ‘fade in’ appeared on a pop music studio recording.

Help! (1965)

The intro to “Help!” is perhaps less about musicality and more about song structure.

Despite their obvious brilliance, a significant portion of the Beatles’ early pop creations were fairly generic in terms of structuring, with an opening verse followed by the chorus, then rinse and repeat.

But when the title track from their 1965 album Help! begins, they add a certain unexpected twist to proceedings, with John Lennon’s emphatic chorus lines immediately bursting into life from the off –  in place of the normal instrumental beginnings you might expect.

Day Tripper (1965)

Name three famous Beatle guitar riffs and it’s highly likely that the opening to their 1965 Double A-side “Day Tripper” is one that immediately springs to mind.

Perhaps their most notorious lick, George Harrison’s precisely plucked and near hypnotic guitar loop sits neatly in amongst Ringo’s rhythmic rattle of drums.

The entire intro is so tightly performed that when it transitions into the first verse there is an intense flow and drive to the number that really never ceases.

Strawberry Fields Forever (1967)

Ever heard of a Mellotron? Neither had John Lennon. But over the course of 1966, he’d been searching for a new sound to use on the band’s upcoming album Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and finally settled on the Mellotron Mark 11.

This little-known organ would become instantly recognizable to Beatles fans of the time and future generations alike.

First appearing as part of a double A-side alongside “Penny Lane” and then later on Magical Mystery Tour, the plodding keys used to open “Strawberry Fields Forever” are both charming and have a real sense of melancholy.

Back In The U.S.S.R (1968)

The White Album begins in style with a truly awesome sound effect.

Stereo sound was in its infancy and at the beginning of “Back In The U.S.S.R”  the Beatles used it to their advantage, as the noise of a jumbo jet seemingly soars across the speakers. The excitement only grows when the plane then fades away, replaced by cranking guitars and the swell of Paul subbing for Ringo with a thrashing drumbeat.

Come Together (1969)

Abbey Road‘s opening number brings the bass guitar to the forefront, providing a memorable and legendary deep groove unlike much of the band’s music before it.

McCartney’s earthy riffing is also accompanied by an inspired rolling drum sequence and a sleazily whispered ‘schuh’ sound to boot.

This intro is evidence of the Beatles’ darker work and with its somber tone signaled both a shifting maturity in their sound and perhaps a hint of sadness at their eventual demise.

-Adam Leadbeater

Photo: Getty Images

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I’m a massive fan of Oasis, The Beatles, Kasabian, and The Enemy. A lead singer and guitarist to amateur bands. My writing passions include Sports, Music and Technology. I enjoy watching Soccer, exploring World Beers and trying my hand at songwriting. With my Media background, I have an interest in graphic design and even dabble in SEO! Check out my portfolio https://www.adamleadbeater.co.uk/

39 comments on “9 of The Best Beatle Intros

  1. Les Fender

    Nice piece! Concerning the A Hard Day’s Night opening chord – give the You Tube video at the link below a listen. My band has done it this way, and it indeed sounds pretty darn authentic:

  2. Mark Hudson

    Great article. I would add “Rain” as one of my favourites, Ringo’s staccato drum beats enveloped by George’s brilliant swirling psychedelic riff leading to John’s knowingly narcotic vocal. Far out man!

  3. Steven Valvano

    Nice job on this!…..If I may, a note that Hard Days Night intro that includes a piano in the mix…. this was George Martin’s magic “wind-up” piano technique that he used over the years with the Fabs…. Martin slowed-down the speed of the recording tape, recorded the opening chord playing it at a semi-tone below, and then upon play-back at regular speed, it matches the guitar chord…thus we hear a fuller more impactful sound with its percussion-punch that no lone guitar can make….that is why it sound so full! ,

  4. ‘The openings of If I Fell and While My Guitar Gently Weeps are veru dramatic.

  5. Richard Short

    There are so many how could you decide? I’ll just chime in with “And I Love Her”, “You Can’t Do That”, ” Hey Bulldog”, “Two of Us”, ” It’s All Too Much”. I could go on and on and on . . .

  6. Fine list, AL.

    I am forever partial to the blunt force frenzy igniting the barely contained distortion of “REVOLUTION”.

  7. BARRY BADDAMS

    Re A Hard Day’s Night intro-it’s a little different from how Randy Bachman interprets it. George plays a hybrid F chord on his twelve-string Rickenbacker with unique fingering as follows: 1st set of strings = G on the 3rd fret (pinky), 2nd set of strings = C on the 1st fret (index finger), 3rd set of strings = A on the 2nd fret (middle finger), 4th set of strings = F on the 3rd fret (ring finger), 5th set of strings = C on the 3rd fret (thumb), and 6th set of strings = G on the 3rd fret (thumb also). Paul plays a low D on his bass while John plays an Fadd9 chord on his six-string acoustic Gibson guitar as an overdub. Also evident on the master tape is the piano, an overdub played by George Martin, playing low D and G notes, as described by Steven Valvano in the comments.

    • Jim Richard

      Obladi Oblada and Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds also have good intros. The former has an intro written by John for a Paul song, and the latter has an intro by Paul written for a John song, same as Strawberry Fields. Can’t Buy Me Love was earlier than Help! and also opened with the chorus.

      • BARRY BADDAMS

        John’s intro to Ob La Di was born out of frustration after Paul had driven everybody mad through endless takes.

        • Les Fender

          Yep. Since Paul couldn’t seem to decide on an intro, after they came back from a break, John stepped up to the piano, literally banged it out, and said something to the effect of “there’s your damn intro!”

  8. Kevin Bartini

    I’ve always loved the guitar intro on George’s “Don’t Bother Me”. A very underrated song. (even by its author)

  9. David J Sellers

    Everyone seems to be forgetting the intro to the BeaTles first number one in the United States… “I Want to Hold Your Hand”.

    • BARRY BADDAMS

      Maybe because musically it’s not that memorable and the song had already been a No.1 everywhere else before the US so no big deal.

  10. Dennis Cadigan

    Ringo’s backflip of a drum intro into ‘Drive My Car’ , (baby you can ..)

    • Drive My Car is one of the very few Beatles songs I don’t care. The melody sounds like it still needs a
      lot of work and the lyrics are nothing to write home about, to be polite. Although the UK version of the album is much better than the US version, the opening song onf the US version is one I much prefer, I’ve Just Seen a Face, another beautiful Paul song.

  11. Don Benton

    And Your Bird Can Sing…

  12. Richard Greenfield

    Although John may have liked the Melotron, it was Paul who devised the intro to Strawberry Fields. Also, leaving out the piano intro (also Paul’s idea) on While My Guitar Gently Weeps is a big error

  13. All My Loving. A cold open made hot. “Close your eyes and I’ll kiss you/Tomorrow I’ll miss you”

  14. Patricia Watts

    Here Comes the Sun has a beautiful guitar intro.

  15. Peterson X-Ray Service

    And you all will have to have to your stomachs pumped out after the savory truffle! Punk B4 Punk!

  16. I love the chugging intro on Baby You’re a Rich Man… so hypnotic.

  17. John Caselli

    Let’s not forget the “hi-hat” intro to “All My Loving”. Simple but cool.

  18. Dave Bartholome

    And then there’s the intro to “Here, There, and Everywhere.” (“To lead a better life, I need my love to be here…”) Paul’s little homage to Tin Pan Alley songcraft…

  19. The Acapella intro of “Paperback Writer” amongst a slew of others.

  20. In his book Geoff Emerick writes that Lennon, upon returning to the studio with Yoko after a break, shouted a proclamation to the effect of “I am more fucked up than any of you will ever be!!”. He then went to the piano and banged out the familiar intro, countering Paul’s softer approach.

    John wins again.

  21. Mark Hudson

    At this point it’s probably simpler if people just chime in with the intros they don’t like…. 🙂

  22. Well i disagree on the schuu sound on come together, Lennon’s live performance during Elton John’s show due to a loss of a bet with Elton on whether whatever gets you thru the night was definitely ” shoot me”. Lennon makes it very plain what he intended.

  23. No mention of the brass intro to “All You Need Is Love?”

  24. BARRY BADDAMS

    It’s just the French national anthem, that’s why – along with bits an pieces from Greensleeves, In The Mood, Bach and She Loves You at the outro to try and make it more interesting.

  25. How about an intro to an intro? There’s the ‘James Bond’ intro before Help!, which you don’t always hear. Problem with royalties?

  26. I can think of a few more that were better than some listed.
    The Night Before
    Oobladi Ooblada (hope I spelled them right)
    Revolution (both versions)
    It’s All Too Much
    So many more I personally liked.

  27. Ian Alterman

    Amazing that not ONE person mentioned the short, but fabulous, intro to Drive My Car.

  28. MR JOHN B WRIGHT

    The reason Come Together has the beginning is has is because at first the song was done much faster and as Paul and George said, it sounded too much like Chuck Berry’s “You Can’t Catch Me.” Paul suggested slowing it down and give it a kind of swampy sound and thus we get the great bass riff in the beginning. John still couldn’t resist stealing a line from Chuck’s song “here come old flattop”. causing him to get sued by Berrry’s publishers,

    • BARRY BADDAMS

      It was the ‘threaten and settle’ crook Morris Levy who sued John. Part of the settlement was that John record 3 Levy-owned songs which were intended for the Rock & Roll album so John sent Levy very rough mixes of the songs for approval but Levy released them himself-unfinished- on his Roots album. This incensed John so much that he decided to fight Levy in the courts, winning $400,000 in damages for himself and Capitol Records. John didn’t live to see full justice catch up with Levy; after a Federal investigation into corruption in the US recording industry in 1986 resulted in Levy eventually getting a 10 year sentence. He died before going to jail though.

  29. Danny Shelton

    The Helter Skelter intro would be a shocker as your alarm clock wake up call!!!

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