100 Greatest Beatles Songs

From 'Helter Skelter' to 'Sgt. Pepper's,' ranking of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, George Harrison's output

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'If I Needed Someone'
K & K Ulf Kruger OHG/Redferns51/100

51. 'If I Needed Someone'

Writer: Harrison
Recorded: October 16 and 18, 1965
Released: June 20, 1966
Not released as a single

This twangy jewel was the result of a remarkable exchange of influences between the Beatles and one of their favorite new bands, L.A.'s psychedelic folkies the Byrds. When guitarist Roger McGuinn saw Harrison playing a cherry-red Rickenbacker 360/12 guitar in A Hard Day's Night, he recalled, "I took my acoustic [12-string] and five-string banjo down to the music store and traded them in for an electric 12-string." Lennon and McCartney attended one of the Byrds' first British shows in early 1965, and that August, on a day off from their U.S. tour, McCartney and Harrison attended a Byrds recording session in L.A.

Two months later, Harrison paid McGuinn the ultimate compliment with "If I Needed Someone," a striking blend of cool dismissal and crystalline riffing adapted from McGuinn's lead lick in "The Bells of Rhymney," from the Byrds' debut album, Mr. Tambourine Man. "George was very open about it," says McGuinn, who was then going by his given name, Jim. "He sent [the record] to us in advance and said, 'This is for Jim' — because of that lick."

Appears On: Rubber Soul

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