You know what’s funny? I’m sitting here listening to this song and enjoying it so much that I’m asking myself, “Did I really rank this all the way down at #129?” But then I look at the list of remaining songs and I don’t know what I would switch around. We’re basically in the stretch of the list where things could change on a day-to-day basis due to my mood or how long it’s been since I’ve heard a song or the current stage of the moon.
If Yom Kippur falls on a full moon, there’s only one song I listen to.
“It Won’t Be Long” starts the Beatles’ second album with a bang, and the rise in musicianship is immediately apparent. Granted, their debut was hastily recorded when John Lennon had a cold, but that alone doesn’t account for such a massive qualitative leap over the span of just a few months. There’s a jolt of energy from the first millisecond, although as an opener it often gets overlooked because it’s sandwiched between two of the most iconic album kick-offs ever: Paul McCartney’s energetic “one-two-three-fawr!” before ripping into “I Saw Her Standing There” on Please Please Me, and the unmistakable chord that begins A Hard Day’s Night.
This may be the first moment in their catalog where everything came together perfectly. It’s such a fine-tuned performance on every level. That’s not to say it’s better than every song that came before it–obviously I rank several earlier songs higher, and maybe that lack of rawness is what makes With the Beatles my least favorite full-length album of the band’s. But the vocals are on point, George’s guitar licks are noticeably stronger, and Ringo’s drumming is incredibly precise. Lyrically, it’s nothing special; the first verse consists of nothing more than the non-rhyming phrase, “Every night when everybody has fun, here am I, sitting all on my own,” and the chorus’s “It won’t be long ’til I belong to you” isn’t quite as clever as the wordplay of “Please Please Me.”
But ultimately, it’s that chorus and the “Yeah!” interjections that make this song such a great earworm, even though it never gets too much attention. Also, like “Hold Me Tight” from the same album, Evan Rachel Wood did a killer cover of it for the movie Across the Universe.