Study Guide

I Want to Hold Your Hand

I Want to Hold Your Hand Introduction

In a Nutshell

The Beatles' arrival in America in early 1964 was like nothing the country had ever seen. The four mop-topped British musicians—whose songs had never even been played on American radio until a few weeks earlier—were mobbed by thousands of screaming fans wherever they tried to go. 

Their concerts were practically drowned out by the rapturous shrieking of teenage female admirers. We had to invent a whole new word—"Beatlemania"—just to describe what was going on. At one point a few months later, the Beatles held down the top five spots on the U.S. singles chart: all at the same time.

The story of how "Beatlemania" took hold is almost as unlikely as the phenomenon itself. (Hint: A key role was played by an ordinary schoolgirl in suburban Washington, D.C. Seriously.) And the story of the Beatles' conquest of America is the story of "I Want to Hold Your Hand," the Beatles' debut American single and the song that broke them from an obscure British quartet into becoming the biggest band ever, anywhere.

About the Song

ArtistBeatles, The
Year1963 (UK), 1964 (U.S.)
LabelParlophone (UK), Capitol Records (U.S.)
Writer(s)John Lennon and Paul McCartney
Producer(s)George Martin
Musician(s)John Lennon (vocals, rhythm guitar, handclaps), Paul McCartney (vocals, bass, handclaps), George Harrison (lead guitar, handclaps), Ringo Starr (drums, handclaps).
Learn to playGuitar
AlbumI Want to Hold Your Hand (Single)

Music Video

Influences on Beatles, The

Chuck Berry
Eddie Cochran
Buddy Holly
Roy Orbison
Carl Perkins
Elvis Presley
Little Richard

Influenced by Beatles, The

David Bowie
Dream Theater
Jimi Hendrix
KISS
Jellyfish
The Mamas & the Papas
The Monkees
Oasis
Wilco

I Want to Hold Your Hand Resources

Books

Michael and Steven A. Baur, The Beatles and Philosophy (2006)
Everything from the group's take on "reality" to their existential being and "somethingness" is reviewed in philosophical, yet readable, terms.

The Beatles, The Beatles Complete Chord Songbook (2000)
This chord book contains practically every Beatles song released.

Bob Spitz, The Beatles: The Biography (2006)
Bob Spitz painstakingly goes through the story of the Beatles in this 1,000-page biography.

Bob Spitz, Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!: The Beatles, Beatlemania, and the Music that Changed the World (2007)
This coffee-table account of the band's early years is more or less an abridged, more accessible version of author Bob Spitz's extended biography.

Albums

With the Beatles (1963)
The UK release of the second Beatles album, which was released at the time that "I Want to Hold Your Hand" was released as a single, contains some of their earlier, more conservative, lovey-dovey rock and roll numbers.

Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967)
This transformative album changed the way in which people viewed rock; while songs like "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds" and "A Day in the Life" are certainly single-worthy, this album had no singles—it was meant to be listened from beginning to end.

The Beatles (1968)
Commonly called The White Album, this quadruple-LP, or double-disc album is the group's magnum opus, rich with excellent songs like "Back in the U.S.S.R.," "Dear Prudence," "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da," "Happiness Is a Warm Gun," and many more.

The Beatles 1 (2000)
The Beatles dominated the charts during their time as a band, with more than two dozen songs that hit the top on either side of the Atlantic. Here they are, in one convenient compilation album.

Images

Heading to America
At the JFK airport, the Beatles stand in front of the plane that took them to America.

The Ed Sullivan Performance
The poorly-reviewed debut of the Beatles in America was nonetheless the start of a revolution in American music.

The Ed Sullivan Performance in Rock Band
The momentous occasion is recreated in the Rock Band: The Beatles video game.

"I Want to Hold Your Hand" Single Cover
The U.S. single (Capitol released the song in the U.S.) sleeve can be seen here. In 1984, the company airbrushed Paul's cigarette out of the image for its re-release.

Movies & TV

The Beatles Anthology (2003)
This Beatles documentary, featuring plenty of involvement by the remaining Beatles, is 600-minutes long. That really says everything in terms of this project's scope.

The Beatles—The First U.S. Visit (1991)
This fascinating documentary gets right into the time period that "I Want to Hold Your Hand" introduced the U.S. to the Beatles.

A Hard Day's Night (1964)
This enjoyable, scripted romp through the group's initial super-stardom in the U.S. holds its water today as something old that is actually enjoyable, mainly due to the Fab Four's infectious personalities.

Websites

The Official Beatles Site
A comprehensive website rich with media and history, with links to the group's sister sites.

Rock Hall Inductee: The Beatles
The Hall of Fame's overview of the Beatles' career provides a swift and updated look at the band's phenomenal career.

Video & Audio

"I Want to Hold Your Hand" on The Ed Sullivan Show
A live performance of the song, along with a short introduction by producer George Martin from the Beatles Anthology DVD.

"I Want to Hold Your Hand" on WWDC
Here's the historic moment when "I Want to Hold Your Hand" debuted on American radio.