The Beatles Songs: "Ticket To Ride"

The history of this classic Beatles song

The original US sleeve for "Ticket To Ride".

Ticket To Ride

Written by: John Lennon (100%) (credited as Lennon-McCartney)
Recorded: February 15, 1965 (Studio 2, Abbey Road Studios, London, England)
Mixed: February 18, 1965; February 23, 1965
Length: 3:03
Takes: 2


John Lennon: lead vocals, rhythm guitars (1961 Fender Stratocaster, 1964 Framus 12-string acoustic "Hootenanny")
Paul McCartney: harmony vocals, lead guitar (solos) (1962 Epiphone Casino), bass guitar (1963 Hofner 500/1)
George Harrison: lead guitar (intro) (1964 Rickenbacker "Fire-glo" 360-12)
Ringo Starr: drums (1963 Black Oyster Pearl Ludwig kit), tambourine, handclaps

First released: April 9, 1965 (UK: Parlophone R5265), April 19, 1965 (US: Capitol 5407)

Available on: (CDs in bold)

  • Help!, (UK: Parlophone PMC 1255, US: Capitol (S)MAS 2386, Parlophone CDP 7 46439 2)
  • The Beatles 1962-1966, (UK: Apple PCSP 717, US: Apple SKBO 3403, Apple CDP 0777 7 97036 2 3)
  • The Beatles 1, (Apple CDP 7243 5 299702 2)

Highest chart position: 1 (US: May 22, 1965); 1 (UK: two weeks beginning April 24, 1965)


Written by John, this song represented a clear break between the Beatles of old and their "middle period"; it was the first recording for the Help! album and represented the first use of their new technique: recording rhythm tracks first and overdubbing vocals and other layered effects later. It would prove to be a milestone in the development of their work, and of pop music in general.

There have been a number of theories regarding the title phrase and its possible meanings: some believe the "ticket" in question to be an actual object, indicating that the girl in the song is leaving the singer (for the British towns of Rye or Ryde, it has been suggested, though there's no conclusive proof of either). John himself once claimed a "ticket to ride" as a Lennonism for a prostitute that has been given a clean bill of health and is ready to start tricking again, but it is unknown whether he was being serious; Paul has made reference to the town of Ryde playing a part, some say as a center of then-illegal abortion activity, but since he didn't write the lyrics, his credibility on this issue has also been in question.

The distinctive and unusual drum pattern played by Ringo on this track was Paul's idea; oddly enough, he does not repeat the attack on the second and third verses, but the structure of the song suggests it to the listener's ear, anyway.

The direct sonic thrust of this song's production later led Lennon to claim "Ticket To Ride" was a direct precursor to heavy metal. The droning sound of the guitars also marked the very first documented case of Indian tonal concepts in rock music, predating the Kinks' "See My Friends" by three months -- and the group's introduction to LSD by one month.

Known live versions:

April 11, 1965 (N.M.E. Poll Winners' Concert 1965, Empire Pool, Wembley)
June 20, 1965 (Palais Des Sports, Paris, France)
June 22, 1965 (Palais d'Hiver, Lyon, France)
June 24, 1965 (Velodromo, Milan, Italy)
June 25, 1965 (Palazzo Dello Sport, Genoa, Italy)
June 27-28, 1965 (Teatro Adriano, Rome, Italy)
June 30, 1965 (Palais Des Fetes, Nice, France)
July 2, 1965 (Plaza De Toros De Madrid, Madrid, Spain)
July 3, 1965 (Plaza de Toros Monumental, Barcelona, Spain)
August 15, 1965 (Shea Stadium, New York, NY)
August 17, 1965 (Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto, Canada)
August 18, 1965 (Atlanta Stadium, Atlanta, GA)
August 19, 1965 (Sam Houston Coliseum, Houston, TX)
August 20, 1965 (White Sox Park, Chicago, IL)
August 21, 1965 (Metropolitan Stadium, Minneapolis, MN)
August 22, 1965 (Memorial Coliseum, Portland, OR)
August 28, 1965 (Balboa Stadium, San Diego, CA)
August 19-30, 1965 (Hollywood Bowl, Los Angeles, CA)
August 31, 1965 (Cow Palace, San Francisco, CA)


  • This is the first Beatles single to have cracked the three-minute mark, unusual in an era where singles usually aimed at never exceeding 2:40. It's also only the third Beatles song of any kind to exceed three minutes -- behind their cover of "You Really Got a Hold on Me" and Paul's b-side "She's a Woman."
  • All copies of the original Capitol 45 feature the words "From The United Artists Release 'Eight Arms To Hold You'," which was the original working title of Help!
Covered by:

The Beach Boys, The Bee Gees, Glen Campbell, The Carpenters, Alma Cogan, The 5th Dimension, Noel Gallagher, Vanilla Fudge, John Wetton