“Think For Yourself” is also another Beatles’ song on the Rubber Soul album from 1965. Written by George Harrison, this song, together with his “If I Needed Someone“, marks his development as a key songwriter within the Fab Four.
Recorded: 8th November, 1965
Studio: EMI Studios, London
Publisher: Northern Songs
Genre: Pop rock
Track Duration: 2:18
Record Label: Parlophone
Songwriters: George Harrison
Producer: George Martin
Engineer: Norman Smith
George Harrison: lead vocal, also the electric guitar
John Lennon: harmony vocal, Vox Continental organ
Paul McCartney: harmony vocal, bass, also the fuzz bass
Ringo Starr: drums, tambourine, also the maracas
Think For Yourself
The to and fro influence between The Beatles and Bob Dylan in the 1960’s is of historical interest. The Beatles met Bob Dylan on numerous occasions in 1965, both in London and New York. While Dylan began embracing rock music, partly through Beatles’ songs, his influence spilled over to the Fab Four.
The song goes against the typical love songs which were the hallmark of Beatlemania. Not only were The Beatles looking for new sounds at the time, but they were also looking to express themselves differently, particularly through their lyrics. However, the philosophical message behind “Think For Yourself” is rather ambiguous.
On the one hand the interpretation could be that of a political statement, on the other, a failing personal relationship. In George Harrison’s biography, “I Me Mine”, from 1980, he says:
“Think For Yourself must be written about somebody from the sound of it – but all this time later I don’t quite recall who inspired that tune. Probably the government.”
Because of the ambiguity and lack of clarity by the songwriter, the lyrics are open to interpretation:
Do what you want to do
And go where you’re going to
Think for yourself
‘Cause I won’t be there with you
Since the Spring of 1965, both George Harrison and John Lennon had much experience with LSD, an hallucinogenic drug. Their outlook on life changed somewhat, but this was to benefit both the band and the fans. Indeed, Beatlemania was evolving into the unknown at this stage. But, the psychedelic era was just around the corner and The Beatles would be in the forefront.
In the EMI Studios, London, on the 8th November, 1965, The Beatles recorded just one take of the basic track. Then overdubbing of the instruments, including the homorhythm three-part harmonies took place.
One of the exciting sounds from this recording comes from the use of two bass guitars. John Lennon’s guitar contribution did not make the final mix partly due to the use of two basses. However, his keyboard contribution did.
Paul McCartney’s use of his Rickenbacker 4001S served as the lead guitar part. This guitar played through a fuzzbox effect unit (Tone Bender), gave the song a very distinctive sound. Although not an original sound, the effect was dramatic on this track. Of course, we previously heard this type of fuzz-tone distortion on The Rolling Stones’ single, “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction”.
Fun In The Studios
While The Beatles were rehearsing “Think For Yourself”, George Martin began recording. The Beatles, who were always game for a laugh, knew this and started to engage in a little banter and fun. Martin hoped that some of this material would end up on the annual fan club Christmas disc. However, none of those recordings was suitable for the 1965 Christmas disc.
There is an unofficial 15 minute segment of those recordings on a bootleg compilation, Unsurpassed Masters, Volume 7. Be that as it may, we do get to hear The Beatles practising their three-part harmonies for this song in the Yellow Submarine movie. A six-second clip of these rehearsals helps to revive the Mayor of Pepperland around the 55 minute mark.
Young Fred: “Even a little snatch of a tune might get him up again.”
Beatles: “All right, let’s sing.”
Beatles (singing): “Have you got time to rectify, time to rectify…”
Mayor: “Do I hear music? Do I see… Young Fred?
Young Fred: “You do, Lord Mayor.”
Rest assured that if any of these humorous pieces from those rehearsals become available commercially, The Beatles Forum and Cavern Club will inform you here.