The Beatles

Tell Me Why

Song Review by

"Tell Me Why" is the most lightweight of the seven Beatles songs used in the soundtrack to the film A Hard Day's Night; it's also, naturally, on the album A Hard Day's Night (which combines those seven songs with others not used in the film). John Lennon and Paul McCartney had to crank out songs at their fastest rate ever in early 1964, both to meet demand for new records and to write material for the soundtrack. Inevitably a few of the songs sounded more formulaic than others, and "Tell Me Why" was one of them. But while it's not one of the more impressive songs from the album, it's a good uptempo number verging on raucous, starting with the opening instrumental bars, which have an unusual jerky rhythm, as if the tune can't decide whether to start or not. That rhythm resurfaces at the end of lines in the choruses, which are straightforward rock'n'roll with fine, nearly shouted vocal harmonies. really puts his best aggressive rock'n'roll vocal forward on other parts of the verse where he sings a line, only to be greeting by jubilant ensemble harmonies from the whole group in a kind of mini call-response format. The brief bridge sounds like a bit of an afterthought, but does include a memorable bit where the Beatles do falsetto harmonies, in what's been speculated as being a tribute/imitation of the Four Seasons. And as usual for the Beatles, there's a minor twist at the very end, where the jerky rhythm returns and the chord sequence varies slightly, dragging out before ending things on a sunny upbeat chord. It's easy to miss that the words actually complain about how poorly the guy's getting treated by his girl, since the group sound like they're having a blast on this track. Lennon as much admitted that the song was a throwaway in his 1980 Playboy interviews, saying that "they needed another upbeat song and I just knocked it off. It was like a black-New-York-girl group song." "Tell Me Why" was seldom covered by other artists; the most notable of these by far were the Beach Boys, who did a loose, appealing pseudo-live-unplugged version on their mid-1960s Party album.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Meet the Beatles! 1964 Capitol 0:00
A Hard Day's Night 1964 Capitol / EMI Records 2:10
Something New 1964 Capitol / Universal 2:10
Extracts from the Film "A Hard Day's Night" 1964 Parlophone
A Hard Day's Night [Film] 1964 MPI Home Video
Compact Disc EP Collection 1992 Apple Records
The Ultimate Box Set 1995 Capitol 2:10
EP Boxset 1999 Parlophone 2:11
The Capitol Albums, Vol. 1 2004 Capitol / EMI Records 2:11
The Beatles: Stereo Box Set 2009 Capitol 2:08
The Beatles USB 2009 Capitol / EMI 2:08
The U.S. Albums 2014 Capitol / Universal 2:11