I've Just Seen a Face

"I've Just Seen a Face" is the first fully acoustic song by the English rock band the Beatles.[2] It was written by Paul McCartney[3][4] (credited to Lennon–McCartney) and features McCartney on vocals. The song appeared on their 1965 United Kingdom album Help! and in the United States on the Capitol Records version of the Rubber Soul album.[5] The song was recorded by the Beatles on 14 June 1965 at EMI Studios in London in the same session as "Yesterday" and "I'm Down".[6]

"I've Just Seen a Face"
Ive just seen a face.PNG
B-side of 1996 "You've Got to Hide Your Love Away" jukebox single
Song by the Beatles
from the album Help!
Released6 August 1965
Recorded14 June 1965
StudioEMI, London
GenreCountry,[1] Skiffle[2]
Producer(s)George Martin


Before its recording, the song was briefly titled "Auntie Gin's Theme" after McCartney's father's youngest sister, because it was one of her favourites.[7][8] It is one of very few Beatles songs that lacks a bass track.[2] The song was written around the time that McCartney and Lennon were both members of the skiffle band, the Quarrymen. McCartney has cited the song as being a form of skiffle.[2]

McCartney has also stated, "It was slightly country and western from my point of view... it was faster, though, it was a strange uptempo thing. I was quite pleased with it. The lyric works; it keeps dragging you forward, it keeps pulling you to the next line, there's an insistent quality to it that I liked."[2] Its lyrics sound effortless and conversational, but they also contain a complex sequence of cascading rhymes ("I have never known/The like of this/I've been alone/And I have missed") that is responsible for the song's irresistible propulsion.[9] According to music critic Richie Unterberger of AllMusic, "Several songs on 1964's Beatles for Sale, as well as "I'll Cry Instead" from A Hard Day's Night, had leaned in a country and western direction. But 'I've Just Seen a Face' was almost pure country, taken at such a fast tempo that it might have been bluegrass if not for the absence of banjo and fiddle."[1]

Music critic Ian MacDonald said the up tempo song "lifted the later stages of the Help! album with its quickfire freshness."[10] Capitol Records chose it as the lead track for the US edition of Rubber Soul with the intent of giving the album a stronger acoustic feel, in step with the then-current folk-rock movement.[2]


Personnel per Ian MacDonald[8]

McCartney live versionsEdit

The song has remained a favourite of McCartney's, as indicated by live performances during his solo career. It was one of only five Beatles numbers performed on his Wings Over America Tour in 1976.[2] It was most recently played on his 2019 Freshen Up tour.

Post-Beatles live versions appear on the 1976 album Wings over America, on the 1991 album Unplugged (The Official Bootleg) and on the 2005 DVD Paul McCartney in Red Square.[2]

McCartney played a snippet of the song, with Paul Simon, during the opening monologue sequence of the 2015 Saturday Night Live 40th Anniversary Special.[11]

Cover versionsEdit


  1. ^ a b Unterberger, Richie. "The Beatles 'I've Just Seen a Face'". Archived from the original on 2014-10-15. Retrieved 2014-10-15. almost pure country
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Rybaczewski, Dave. "I've Just Seen A Face". Beatles Music History. Retrieved 2019-10-05.
  3. ^ Miles, Barry (1997). Paul McCartney: Many Years From Now. New York: Henry Holt & Company. p. 200. ISBN 0-8050-5249-6.
  4. ^ Sheff, David (2000). All We Are Saying: The Last Major Interview with John Lennon and Yoko Ono. New York: St. Martin's Press. p. 195. ISBN 0-312-25464-4.
  5. ^ Unterberger, Richie (2009). "Album review of "Help!"". allmusic. Retrieved 2013-06-10.
  6. ^ Lewisohn, Mark (1988). The Beatles Recording Sessions. New York: Harmony Books. p. 59. ISBN 0-517-57066-1.
  7. ^ Harry, Bill (2000). The Beatles Encyclopedia: Revised and Updated. London: Virgin Publishing. p. 559. ISBN 0-7535-0481-2.
  8. ^ a b MacDonald 2005, p. 155.
  9. ^ "58 - 'I've Just Seen a Face'". 100 Greatest Beatles Singles. Rolling Stone. 2011-09-19. Retrieved 19 June 2012.
  10. ^ MacDonald, Ian (2005). Revolution in the Head: The Beatles' Records and the Sixties (Second Revised ed.). London: Pimlico (Rand). p. 156. ISBN 1-84413-828-3.
  11. ^ Blistein, Jon (2015-02-15). "Paul McCartney, Miley Cyrus, Paul Simon Captivate at 'SNL 40'". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2016-10-26.
  12. ^ "The View (2) - The Don / Skag Trendy". Discogs.
  13. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2008). Hot Country Songs 1944 to 2008. Record Research, Inc. p. 74. ISBN 978-0-89820-177-2.
  14. ^ "Gray Matter (2) - Thog". Discogs.
  15. ^ "Uncovered - Steve Harley | Songs, Reviews, Credits". AllMusic. 2020-02-21. Retrieved 2020-04-06.

External linksEdit