Song of the Day #430: ‘If I Needed Someone’ – The Beatles

beatles2Rubber Soul is chock full of famous songs — ‘Drive My Car,’ ‘Girl,’ ‘Nowhere Man’ and ‘In My Life,’ to name a few. But its lesser known songs are just as worthy. ‘You Won’t See Me,’ ‘Think For Yourself’ and ‘I’m Looking Through You’ are three songs casual fans might not know very well, but they should. ‘Wait’ is one of the band’s best early songs and would probably be as well-loved as the big hits had it been released as a single.

And then there’s ‘If I Needed Someone,’ one of George Harrison’s two contributions to Rubber Soul. Its sound was influenced by The Byrds, something that’s obvious from the first notes, and it’s one of the best uses of multi-part harmony on the album, with John and Paul joining George on lead vocals in the verses.

Lyrically, I’ve always found the song very compelling. It’s by no means a traditional love song… in fact, it’s one of the few songs of its kind I’ve ever heard (Joe Jackson has a song called ‘The Other Me’ that treads similar ground). ‘If I Needed Someone’ is written from the perspective of a man in a relationship who has feelings for another woman but isn’t willing to act on them.

On the one hand, a song like this seems rather insulting to both women. How should the current wife or girlfriend react to such a thing (though it’s certainly not meant for her ears)? “Thanks a lot for picking me… sorry you had to struggle with this, jackass!” And the other woman can’t be too thrilled either, being told that she’s a close runner up, and to leave her digits just in case things don’t work out as planned. Upon hearing this song, I can imagine her wanting to carve something other than her number on his wall.

But on the other hand, this is a real and complicated situation George is exploring… people who are off the market can, through no design of their own, meet somebody with whom they really click and have those “what if” thoughts start firing off in their head. I like that he put such a sticky situation into a song, and a great sounding one at that.

If I needed someone to love
You’re the one that I’d be thinking of
If I needed someone

If I had some more time to spend
Then I guess I’d be with you my friend
If I needed someone

Had you come some other day
Then it might not have been like this
But you see now I’m too much in love

Carve your number on my wall
And maybe you will get a call from me
If I needed someone
Ah, ah, ah, ah

If I had some more time to spend
Then I guess I’d be with you my friend
If I needed someone

Had you come some other day
Then it might not have been like this
But you see now I’m too much in love

Carve your number on my wall
And maybe you will get a call from me
If I needed someone
Ah, ah

5 thoughts on “Song of the Day #430: ‘If I Needed Someone’ – The Beatles

  1. Dana says:

    So, Clay, would you care to share any experience you may have had of this nature?:)

    Kidding aside, I’m glad you stuck with Rubber Soul for another day. With the exception of “Michelle,” there isn’t a song on this album that isn’t really great.

  2. Clay says:

    It did have some relevance back in my junior year of high school, actually, and that’s when I first heard it.

    While I don’t count ‘Michelle’ among my favorites, or even in the second tier, I think it’s perfectly lovely. Not sure why it gets such a bad rap.

  3. dana says:

    Go on… 🙂

  4. Amy says:

    I’m glad you mentioned one of my very favorite Joe Jackson songs, so I’m taking this opportunity to feature it 🙂 (in case it never shows up in a future SOTD entry). I’ve always thought that this song is a sort of confession by a closeted person, who might be struggling to live the life he thinks he’s supposed to live rather than the one he wants to live.

    But it certainly works as a companion to today’s Beatles’ song. However, I’d like to point out that in each song, as well as in their fictional counterparts (Jim/Pam/Roy) or real life counterparts (?/Clay/?), the scenario is likely to play out in a way that ultimately has the original relationship not withstanding the speaker’s desire to spend more time with this other person.

    So… the whole thing sort of depresses me a bit 😦

  5. Amy says:

    Oh, and I really don’t like “Michelle,” even though Jason Castro performed it on American Idol…

    You get a chance to see how wonderfully endearing Jason is 🙂

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