Beatles – I’m Down

I have always liked this B side to Help! Not a bad B side at all.

It was credited to Lennon/McCartney but Paul McCartney wrote this track… in the style of Little Richard. American R&B singers like Richard were a big influence on The Beatles.

The Beatles used this as their closing number on 1965 North American and UK tours, and the 1966 World tour.

When the Beatles were recording this…Paul took a break after shredding his vocal cords and recorded the classic…Yesterday. John Lennon played the Hammond organ on this track. It was the first time Lennon played any kind of keyboard on a record. When The Beatles played this live, he often played an electric piano.

This was the first song ever recorded by Aerosmith. They used it as a demo which eventually got them a record deal. They used also recorded it in 1987 on their album Permanent Vacation.

Paul McCartney: “I’m not sure if John had any input on it, in fact I don’t think he did. But not wishing to be churlish, with most of these I’ll always credit him with 10 per cent just in case he fixed a word or offered a suggestion. But at least 90 per cent of that would be mine.”

From Songfacts

In this song, Paul McCartney plays the role of a poor sap wallowing in his misery. But the joke is on him, which the arrangement and backing vocals make clear. When he sings, “I’m down,” John Lennon and George Harrison retort in mocking fashion, with lines like “down on the ground.” It’s as if they’ve heard too much of his bellyaching and they’re sick of it.

A telling line is, “How can you laugh when you know I’m down?” You can only have so much sympathy for someone who won’t help himself. After that, you have to laugh.

The Beatles performed this on their third live Ed Sullivan Show appearance – September 12, 1965. Before The Beatles broke through in America, Sullivan was in the London airport when The Beatles returned from a tour of Sweden. When he saw the massive crowd there to greet them, he thought The Queen was arriving. When he found out the throngs were there for The Beatles, he made sure to book them on his show. He became a big fan and had them on whenever he could.

This was recorded at the same session with “Yesterday” and “I’ve Just Seen a Face.” 

The Beastie Boys recorded a version of this in 1986. Michael Jackson, who owned the publishing rights to this and many other Beatles songs, would not allow them to release it.

Paul McCartney played this at the “Concert For New York,” a benefit show he helped organize in 2001 to help victims of the World Trade Center disaster. It was the first song of his set.

I’m Down

You tell lies thinking I can’t see
You can’t cry ’cause you’re laughing at me
I’m down (I’m really down)
I’m down (Down on the ground)
I’m down (I’m really down)
How can you laugh when you know I’m down
(How can you laugh) When you know I’m down

Man buys ring woman throws it away
Same old thing happens everyday
I’m down (I’m really down)
I’m down (Down on the ground)
I’m down (I’m really down)
How can you laugh when you know I’m down
(How can you laugh) When you know I’m down

We’re all alone and there’s nobody else
You still moan, “Keep your hands to yourself!”
I’m down (I’m really down)
Oh baby, I’m down (Down on the ground)
I’m down (I’m really down)
How can you laugh when you know I’m down
(How can you laugh) When you know I’m down, wow
Baby I’m down

Oh baby, you know I’m down (I’m really down)
Oh yes, I’m down (I’m really down)
I’m down on the ground (I’m really down)
Ah, Down (I’m really down)
Oh baby, I’m upside down, a yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
I’m down (I’m really down)
Oh baby, I’m down (I’m really down)
I’m feeling upside down (I’m really down)
Oh, I’m down (I’m really down)
Baby, I’m down, yeah
Oh baby, I’m down, yeah
Baby I’m down (I’m really down)
Well, baby I’m down (I’m really down)
Well, baby, baby, baby (I’m really down)
Oh baby, I’m down
I’m down, down, down


Author: Badfinger (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

26 thoughts on “Beatles – I’m Down”

  1. never considered it to be one of the better bits of their catalog, but not an awful song by any means…I was surprised they did it on “ed Sullivan” though, given how many more popular tracks they had back then.
    Reading the blurb on it and McCartney’s statements , coupled with my blog today about Wings it’s getting harder and harder to not think McC was the self-absorbed problem with both bands. No denying he has immense talent but his attitude…?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is a very popular song with harder rock fans…I would bet you…Deke is a fan of this one. It wasn’t bad for a B side.

      McCartney wrote a song and wanted things a certain way like it was in his head. You know…when I or our other guitar player wrote something…we would do the same thing for some of them…ok drummer…play it this way…give me this sort of bass line…I never thought about that until recently…so I can see why he did it…but sometimes you have to trust your bandmates.


  2. They might be influenced by Little Richard but only Little Richard can be Little Richard! The thing I most enjoyed in this video was seeing people scream in ecstasy over what (to me) appears to be only run-of-the-mill!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I cant keep track of all the Beatles love I run into on my rounds. I really do like that early raw sound they had. They learned their chops playing clubs. Old school. Absolutely dead on with Gene and Richard. They do their harmony thing and it’s Phil and Don.

        Liked by 1 person

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