When was it recorded? Feb. 27, 1964
When was it first released, and on which album? Jul. 10, 1964 on “A Hard Day’s Night”
Who wrote it? Lennon
Have I heard this song before? Yes
What my research dug up:
(Aaand today Paul got a category devoted to facts about him on “Jeopardy!” If ever you doubt you’ve made it, wait until there’s five clues about you on North America’s best game show.)
“That’s my first attempt to write a ballad proper. …And it’s semi-autobiographical, but not consciously. It shows that I wrote sentimental love ballads, silly love songs, way back when.” — John Lennon (David Sheff, All We Are Saying)
To quote About.com, “Written by John on January 13, 1964, this is a standard ballad — his first real ballad, according to the writer, and while not specifically about his wife, Cynthia, it has been seen by Lennon in retrospect as indicating some of his ambivalence about romance at the time.” Paul takes credit for writing the introduction, but Alan Pollack notes that based on his signature wordplay the rest of “If I Fell” was clearly John’s work. According to Wikipedia, “The song is notable for its unusual structure, which includes an unrepeated introductory section sung by Lennon, followed by sequential verse sections, each having a slightly expanded form, but with no obvious chorus or bridge section.” Fascinating.
John recorded a demo of “If I Fell” in early 1964. You can tell the melody is slightly out of his range, and Paul sings the higher part on the album version.
The Beatles recorded 15 takes of the song on Feb. 27. Quoth Rolling Stone magazine, “Lennon and McCartney shared a single microphone “for their Everly Brothers-like close harmonies.”
According to Wikipedia, “Like much of the Beatles’ early work, the song was released in two different mixes for mono and stereo. Lennon’s opening vocal is single-tracked in mono but double-tracked in the stereo mix.” About.com also says Paul’s voice cracks at the end of the second verse. Let’s play Spot the Difference.
Oh yeah, that’s noticeable.
“If I Fell” was released as a single in Norway, where it reached #1, and in Britain (although intended for export, Wikipedia notes, “some retailers sold it in the UK anyway. It did not chart there and is generally not considered an ‘official’ UK single”). The tune appeared as the B-side to the “And I Love Her” single in the US in Jul. 1964.
The song was a staple of the Beatles’ live shows, though Wikipedia notes the band usually performed it at a faster tempo than the recorded version in concert. The Fab Four also recorded “If I Fell” twice for BBC radio. According to the Beatles Bible these were recorded Jul. 14 and Jul. 17; however, iTunes tells me the version found on “On Air – Live at the BBC Vol. 1” was recorded Jul. 16. I’m not sure who to believe anymore.
The Beatles sing “If I Fell” in the film “A Hard Day’s Night” to cheer up Ringo while a crew is setting up equipment for their television appearance.