“I Need You” is a song by the Beatles and appears on the album Help!. It is the second George Harrison song the band released after two albums without any songwriting contribution from Harrison. The song was performed in their second film, Help! and is the second video produced showing George Harrison singing lead vocal on a song (after “I’m Happy Just to Dance with You” from A Hard Day’s Night).
The song was recorded on 15 and 16 February 1965. This was the first recording session for the group in 1965 and included two other songs, “Ticket to Ride” and “Another Girl”, both of which were also included on the Help! album. The song is often considered to address Harrison’s relationship with Pattie Boyd, whom he had met in March 1964 while filming A Hard Day’s Night (they married in January 1966).
Some Beatles’ books have claimed that George wrote it in the Bahamas while separated from Patty, but this can’t be true as recording began on February 15th, 1965, and these Bahamas scenes weren’t shot until the following week.
The song is in A major (actually a little less than half a semitone below A, as were “Ticket to Ride” and “Another Girl”, also recorded that day). The recording’s distinctive lead guitar cadences were achieved through Harrison’s first recorded use of a volume pedal, (used again on the Lennon composition “Yes It Is” from the same sessions) and by common guitar suspended chords in the key of A. These form the introduction and most of the verse of the song and give a quasi-modal effect relieved in the verse by a line in the relative minor (with a simple backing harmony from Lennon and McCartney), the whole making a fourteen-bar ternary verse-structure. This, after a repeat, segues easily into a second, bridge melody that introduces a cowbell for contrast and is based on a simple IV-V-I chord progression that passes through the dominant key to resolve back on the verse.
An interesting feature is the use of an imperfect cadence (resolving on A Major) in the climax of the bridge (on “I just can’t go on anymore”) which uses II (B7) and V (E7) chords. Many such aspects of the song are developed in Harrison’s song “If I Needed Someone” on the group’s next album, Rubber Soul.
George Martin kept notes during the session that documented the unusual arrangement, which was:
George Harrison – double-tracked vocal, Spanish guitar, twelve-string lead guitar with volume pedal
John Lennon – harmony vocal, snare drum
Paul McCartney – harmony vocal, bass guitar
Ringo Starr – slapping back of guitar, cowbell