“I’ll Cry Instead” is a John Lennon composition credited to Lennon–McCartney, and recorded by the Beatles for the soundtrack to their film A Hard Day’s Night.
Lennon wrote the song for the “break-out” sequence in the film. The song was recorded on 1 June 1964 in two sections, A and B, which could then be spliced together at a later date to achieve the required length to fit the film. However, director Richard Lester eventually decided he preferred the livelier “Can’t Buy Me Love” with its upbeat lyric, and that was used instead. When Walter Shenson re-released the film in 1981, “I’ll Cry Instead” was included in an opening sequence as a tribute to Lennon, consisting of a “Swingin'” early to mid-1960s-style collage of photos of the Beatles in 1964, around the time they were shooting the film.
Although the song was not part of the original movie, the label of the American 45 lists the song as being “From the United Artists Picture, ‘A Hard Day’s Night'”.
“I’ll Cry Instead” was described by Cynthia Lennon as a cry for help, saying, “It reflects the frustration he [John Lennon] felt at that time. He was the idol of millions, but the freedom and fun of the early days had gone.” John Lennon later said the line “A chip on my shoulder that’s bigger than my feet” was an accurate indication of his feelings at the time.
“I’ll Cry Instead” is rooted in country & western, a genre that the Beatles, and especially Ringo Starr, enjoyed playing.
John Lennon – double-tracked vocals, acoustic rhythm guitar
Paul McCartney – bass
George Harrison – lead guitar
Ringo Starr – drums, tambourine
The full version (2:09) was released in the US on the United Artists soundtrack album A Hard Day’s Night UAL-3366 (mono) and UAS-6366 (rechannelled stereo). This same version also appears on the US single and the mono version of Capitol’s Something New T-2108 (mono). This full version appeared on The Capitol Albums, Volume 1, but was not included in the Beatles’ remastered albums, making it exclusive to the Capitol Albums set. According to Mark Lewishon, this is the only true mono mix.
An edited short version (1:49—the third verse deleted) appeared in the UK on Parlophone PMC 1230 (mono) & PCS 3058 (stereo) A Hard Day’s Night (album), the British EP Extracts from the Album A Hard Day’s Night Parlophone GEP 8920 (mono) and on the Capitol stereo version of Something New ST-2018. The stereo was folded down to mono for the mono album release.
“I’ll Cry Instead” reached No. 25 in the Billboard Hot 100, and spent seven weeks in the chart, including two in the Top 30.
Most copies of the United Artists album list the title as “I Cry Instead” by mistake.
Joe Cocker covered this song in 1964. It was his first single.
Johnny Rivers covered this song in 1965, on the album Meanwhile Back at the Whisky à Go Go.