5 Beatles Songs with Killer Instrumental Intros

The Beatles made their reputation on the strength of their sterling songwriting ability. But they also knew how to present a song, as the four members of the group, in conjunction with producer George Martin, understood that a memorable instrumental part to start a song could make a huge difference.

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Here are five Beatles songs, all of which are undeniable classics, that start with an instrumental bang.

“A Hard Day’s Night”

Maybe The Beatles knew they needed something iconic here because they were starting off not just a song, but also an album and a movie. Perhaps that’s where that strangely wonderful chordal blast emanated. By the way, if you’re trying to find the exact chord that’s being played, you’re kind of barking up the wrong tree. There are actually a few instruments in the mix and they’re all playing something a little bit different. It all added up to the aural equivalent of a colorful starter’s pistol, one that propelled the Fab Four into cinema stardom.

“I Feel Fine”

Depending on who was interviewed when, the story for how The Beatles came to incorporate feedback at the beginning of this smash single varies. The general consensus is it was first an accident that was then harnessed, with the help of George Martin’s expertise, into a controllable bolt of lightning to kick off “I Feel Fine.” But that’s not all you get at the start. You also get John Lennon and George Harrison playing that choogling riff in tandem to create a double-tracked effect. By the time the lyrics begin, you’re way hooked.

“Day Tripper”

The Beatles tended not to base songs around riffs, as their buddies in The Rolling Stones often did. “Day Tripper” was an exception. The band was under deadline to come up with a single, which could be why they didn’t take a more typical, writerly approach based on chords and lyrics. Instead, John Lennon came up with that ripper of a riff, a guttural but melodic creature that is played all by itself before the rest of the instrumentation begins. It sets the tone as well, as it coerced the band into a hard-rocking mode they hadn’t much explored to that point.

“Strawberry Fields Forever”

Before there were synthesizers, there was the mellotron. Like modern synths, it was meant to mimic other instruments even as it was played like a keyboard. By 1967, it had started to work its way into pop music in a meaningful way thanks to bands like The Moody Blues. The Beatles also had more time to mess about in the studio in 1967 thanks to their decision to stop touring. On a song that contains a little bit of everything instrumentally, it’s the mellotron, set to sound like flutes, that delivers the chillingly pretty intro.

“Come Together”

John Lennon missed a good chunk of the Abbey Road sessions while recovering from a car accident. Many of his writing contributions were mere fragments that were pulled together for the medleys on Side 2. But the album begins with “Come Together,” his would-be campaign theme song that turned into a sketch of an unsavory yet compelling character. Including it in this list is a bit of a cheat, since Lennon does vocalize the words Shoot me at the beginning. But that’s drowned out by Paul McCartney’s rumbling bass riff, the perfect setup for this bluesy wonder of a song.

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