The Story Behind The Beatles' Song I Want To Tell You

Despite breaking up in 1970, the Beatles remain icons of modern-day pop culture. Their music continuously gets rediscovered by generation after generation. Rediscoveries have led to everything from remastered recordings to a Cirque du Soleil show. John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr have since enlightened the general public about their time in the band and allowed stories behind their music to emerge.

Harrison was a friend of McCartney's from school. In 1958, this connection brought him to the Quarry Men, Lennon's band which McCartney had joined a year prior (per Ultimate Classic Rock). Harrison may have been known as "the quiet Beatle," but he proved to be an integral part of the band, especially in the group's later albums. He even made it onto Rolling Stone's 2015 list of the best guitarists of all time. One of Harrison's shining moments with the Beatles was on the song "I Want to Tell You."

I Want to Tell You was on the 1966 album Revolver

Prior to writing and recording the song, George Harrison had been taking hallucinogenics like LSD and learning about Indian culture because it was the '60s and that's what most rock musicians were doing. According to Rolling Stone, Harrison discussed the experiences he had while using LSD, saying "you could spend the rest of your life trying to explain what it made you feel and think." The song "I Want to Tell You" addresses "the avalanche of thoughts that are so hard to write down or say or transmit," per Harrison's statements about it in his autobiography "I, Me, Mine."

Songs like "I Want to Tell You" and the entire "Revolver" album as a whole marked a shift in the Beatles. More of Harrison's contributions made the final cut than in past albums. This trend continued throughout the rest of the band's time together. Harrison went on to pen monumental songs for the band like "Something" on the 1969 album Abbey Road. He was inducted into The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2004.

The song reflects a sense of frustration

Aside from mind-expanding lyrics, George Harrison had to do some musical expanding to complete the song as well. "I realized the chords I knew at the time just didn't capture that feeling. So after I got the guitar riff, I experimented until I came up with this dissonant chord that really echoed that sense of frustration" (per Far Out). Therefore, the lyrics convey a difficulty in communicating one's feelings, as does the melody which accompanies them.

The chord in question is Harrison's own invention. However, not all listeners seemed to notice. In Harrison's 1992 interview with "Guitar World," the interviewer pointed out the chord at the end of the song. "I'm really pleased that you noticed that. That's an E7th with an F on the top, played on the piano," Harrison explained. "I'm really proud of that, because I literally invented that chord." Despite the achievement and the band's fame, few other songs have used the chord. However, fellow Beatle John Lennon used it for the song "I Want You (She's So Heavy)."