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:
Slightly like yesterday’s track, John wrote “Tell Me Why” specifically for the concert at the end of the film “A Hard Day’s Night.”
“They needed another upbeat song and I just knocked it off. It was like a black-New-York-girl-group song.” — John Lennon (David Sheff, All We Are Saying)
John called the song a throwaway, but Paul put a few puzzle pieces together on his own later in life.
“I think a lot of these songs like ‘Tell Me Why’ may have been based in real experiences or affairs John was having or arguments with Cynthia or whatever, but it never occurred to us until later to put that slant on it all.” — Paul McCartney (Barry Miles, Many Years From Now)
Alan Pollack wrote in his notes on “Tell Me Why,” “Although one of the more confrontationally bitter songs of the period, this one somewhat uniquely incorporates no small measure of the sad, desperate frustration seen in some of John’s other work. …In spite of all ranting, I think I’d more readily assume it’s the rehearsal-like soliloquy in advance of a showdown, or perhaps even, merely the muttering under his breath for self-comfort, after the moment for a face-to-face clearing of the air had, alas, long since passed.”
The Beatles recorded “Tell Me Why” in eight takes Feb. 27, 1964.
According to Alan Pollack, the track has a few noticeable differences between mono and stereo. Quoth Pollack, “On the mono CD pressing, John’s solo vocal sounds single tracked in the verses and the bridge, whereas the stereo LP pressing sounds as though the vocal in those sections had been double or even triple tracked. The stereo version also has an extra second or two at the very end; just long enough to hear someone running a hand down the neck of a guitar to dampen the remaining reverberation of the final chord.”
I didn’t hear it, but that doesn’t mean it’s not there.
Weirder yet, according to the Beatles Bible, “For reasons unknown, John Lennon’s vocals in the film are different from either the mono or stereo studio versions.” (This video segues into “If I Fell,” just so you know.)
OK, that change was more noticeable.