This is the second part of a new series looking at some of my favourite Beatles songs. Last week the spotlight was on ‘She’s Leaving Home’, and now it’s time to take a look at what is arguably one of the most underrated songs in the band’s back catalogue: ‘Yes It Is’.
Written by John Lennon, ‘Yes It Is’ was released in 1965 as the B-side to ‘Ticket to Ride’. It was included on Beatles VI in the United States, while it can also be heard on the Past Masters release.
There are two things in particular that make the song one of my favourites, the first being John, Paul and George’s beautiful three-part harmonies. These were recorded together, at George Martin’s suggestion, over three hours. The second thing I love is George Harrison’s volume-pedal guitar, which adds a lovely quality to the song and works perfectly over the acoustic rhythm. George also played this on his own composition from the Help! album, ‘I Need You’, which they finished recording on the same day.
A lot of people seem to love this song, but incredibly, its writer was not one of them. In his famous 1980 interview with Playboy magazine, John dismissed ‘Yes It Is’ as a failed attempt on his part to re-write ‘This Boy’. As one of his more tender songs, maybe he felt a bit insecure about it? In any case, even the greatest songwriters often fail to see the beauty in some of their best work. Paul, however, thought very highly of it:
“I was there writing it with John, but it was his inspiration that I helped him finish off. ‘Yes It Is’ is a very fine song of John’s, a ballad, unusual for John. He wrote some beautiful ballads.”
I’ve always thought of ‘Yes It Is’ as a bit of a hidden gem. It’s not a rare track at all, but it wasn’t one of the big hits, so is often overlooked. And although John may not have considered it one of his best, many Beatles fans feel differently.