Thursday, 27 May 2010

The Band Who...Needed No Introduction

So here I am working my way through With The Beatles and I’m blown away all over again by the Beatles' economy when it comes to intros. Here’s a survey of what happens before the vocals come in.

2 songs have no intro whatsoever

It Won’t Be Long – (song starts with chorus vocals)
All My Loving - (song starts with verse vocals)

6 more tracks have only a single note before the vocals enter

She Loves You – ½ bar drum fill (0.5 sec)
I’ll Get You – one bass note
Please Mr Postman* – single hi-hat
All I’ve Got To Do – single free time guitar chord
Not A Second Time – single piano bass note
I Wanna Be Your Man – single guitar string bend

The rest have intros ranging between 1 and 17 seconds. 

5 of these (including the 3 longest) are cover versions*.

Hold Me Tight – band intro (1 sec)
Don’t Bother Me – guitar solo (4 sec)
Little Child – harmonica solo (6 sec)
I Want To Hold Your Hand – band intro (6 sec)
Devil In Her Heart* – guitar solo (6 sec)
Till There Was You* – guitar solo (7 sec)
This Boy – band intro (9 sec)
You Really Got A Hold On Me* – band intro (14 sec)
Money (That’s What I Want)* – band Intro (15 sec)
Roll Over Beethoven* – guitar solo (17 sec)

Author Jay Frank devotes a whole chapter explaining why intros got progressively longer after the 60s (longer intros suited radio ident jingles) and peaks in the early 90s (or was it late 80s) when the rise of mp3s and the 'skip' function in streaming once again began to reward shorter intros.

You can download the chapter for free from Jay's website here 


  1. Super interesting. I wonder how it is that intros became more fashionable. Maybe people became more afraid that their songs weren't good enough, so they had to dress them up with intros?

  2. Thanks YUA - Jay Frank's book FutureHit.DNA has a really interesting chapter on the rise of long songs with long intros and he argues (persuasively IMHO) that it was driven by radio - you can download the chapter for free here

  3. I was comparing Fifth Harmony's new album "7/27" intros to With The Beatles intros. While WTB had obviously the shortest intros compared to 7/27, 7/27 still had short intros in all of the songs (ranging 4 sec to 11 sec, the most being 18 sec). So maybe contemporary albums have caught on with this intro economy.

    1. Yes - you're right Curtis - as I said in the comment above Jay Frank has some fascinating things to say about why intros got so long in the 70s and 80s and why they are getting shorter now (basically Radio - Radio Advertising - mp3s) I'd highly recommend the first chapter of futurehit DNA - I'll put a link in the post.

    2. I tried downloading the mp3 to Jay's site but I got a server error.

      I would like to point out that "I'll get you" doesn't belong on the "one note list" as like the others. Unlike others starting off on one note either a chorus or verse, "I'll get you" starts off with a intro just with the vocals following it and the verse actually doesn't start until 0:08.

    3. you have to click through to the site and sign up with your email address

    4. But that's what I already did, I got the downloading link and everything. But when I clicked on the link that was in my inbox, I was taken to a site where it had the title "Not found" as the Headline.