Song facts: I Want to Hold Your Hand

On October 17th 1963, The Beatles recorded I Want to Hold Your Hand at Abbey Road Studios, London. The song was a collaborative effort by John Lennon and Paul McCartney. 

"We wrote a lot of stuff together, one on one, eyeball to eyeball. Like in 'I Want to Hold Your Hand,' I remember when we got the chord that made the song. We were in Jane Asher's house, downstairs in the cellar playing on the piano at the same time. And we had, 'Oh you-u-u/ got that something...' And Paul hits this chord and I turn to him and say, 'That's it!' I said, 'Do that again!' In those days, we really used to absolutely write like that — both playing into each other's noses." - John Lennon  

McCartney was living at his girlfriend Jane Asher's house when himself and John wrote the song earlier that year. Jane Asher's mother taught the oboe to students in the basement of their house and this is where John and Paul penned I Want to Hold Your Hand.

"Eyeball to eyeball is a very good description of it. That's exactly how it was. 'I Want to Hold Your Hand' was very co-written. It was our big number one; the one that would eventually break us in America." - Paul McCartney  
Ringo, John and Paul in Paris, January 1964. 

Ringo, John and Paul in Paris, January 1964. 

Recording

The song was recorded in 17 takes, alongside the single's B-side This Boywhich required 15 takes (the US single featured I Saw Her Standing There as the B-side). Mono and stereo mixes of the song were carried out by producer George Martin on October 21st. 

Personnel 

  • John Lennon – vocal, rhythm guitar, handclaps
  • Paul McCartney – vocal, bass guitar, handclaps
  • George Harrison – lead guitar, handclaps
  • Ringo Starr – drums, handclaps

German version

The German division of EMI felt that the Beatles needed to re-record the song in German for the single to have any success in their country. The Beatles reluctantly complied at the request of producer George Martin.

Sie Liebt Dich (She Loves You) and Komm, Gib Mir Deine Hand (I Want to Hold Your Hand) were recorded at the Pathe Marconi Studios in Paris, on January 29th 1964. The Beatles were able to use the original backing track for I Want to Hold Your Hand but had to record a new rhythm track for She Loves You as the original recording had been scrapped.

At this same session in Paris, the Beatles also recorded the rhythm track for a new Paul McCartney song Can't Buy Me Love. 

Both German recordings of She Loves You and I Want to Hold Your Hand were later released on The Beatles' Past Masters and Mono Masters albums.

Release

I Want to Hold Your Hand was released on November 29th 1963 in the UK, with This Boy as the B-side. The US release was on December 26th, which included I Saw Her Standing There as the B-side.

I Want to Hold Your Hand, Danish and US single sleeves. 

I Want to Hold Your Hand, Danish and US single sleeves. 

Chart success

On December 12 1963 the song reached number one on the UK Singles Chart. It entered the US Billboard Hot 100 on January 13th 1964, and reached the number one spot on February 1st; remaining there for seven weeks. On March 21st, She Loves You took its place at number one.

"One night we arrived back at the hotel from the Olympia when a telegram came through to Brian from Capitol Records of America. He came running in to the room saying, 'Hey, look. You are number one in America! I Want To Hold Your Hand had gone to number one.
Well, I can't describe our response. We all tried to climb onto Big Mal's back to go round the hotel suite: 'Wey-hey!' And that was it, we didn't come down for a week." - Paul McCartney
"We were booked to go to America directly after the Paris trip, so it was handy to have a number one. We'd already been hired by Ed Sullivan, so if it had been a number two or number 10 we'd have gone anyway; but it was nice to have a number one.

We did have three records out in America before this one. The others were on two different labels. It was only after all the publicity and the Beatlemania in Europe that Capitol Records decided, 'Oh, we will have them.' They put out I Want To Hold Your Hand as our first single, but in fact it was our fourth." - George Harrison