Love Me Do – The Beatles [..with tab]

Beatles harpI’ll always be true, so please, love me do

[We are delighted to re-publish our most popular post with some helpful new learning features].

Much has been written about John Lennon’s harmonica playing with The Beatles. He started playing at a time in the 1960’s when American blues music was taking the UK by storm. Little Walter, Muddy Waters, Sonny Boy Williamson and Howlin Wolf all toured the UK. The Rolling Stones were stiff competition in the popularity stakes, with harmonica work by the multi-talented Brian Jones and many other UK R&B bands followed.

Bruce Channel was also touring the UK on the back of his¬†‘Hey Baby’ hit (many will be more familiar with the 1990’s cover version, famous for its loutish¬†Ooh-Aah chant). With him was¬†Delbert McClinton, the harmonica player on the hit. Legend has it that¬†Delbert McClinton taught John Lennon cross harp while Channel’s band was touring Merseyside. In a later interview however McClinton busts this myth.

Beatles harp detailWas it a diatonic or a chromatic harmonica?

Apparently Lennon had already figured it out for himself. But what did he use to record Love Me Do?¬†Pat Missin has studied the Beatles’ harmonica songs very closely. With the aid of modern computer technology, an encyclopedic knowledge of all things harmonica and some clever analysis, he has managed to pinpoint which harmonicas were used on which Beatles songs.

Until you listen closely to Love Me Do, you might imagine that a regular C diatonic was used. The main riff sits very comfortably on a blues harp. Further into the song however, the riff changes across the¬†‘someone to love..’ passage; the accompanying notes cannot be found on a diatonic harp without serious bending and this is something at which John Lennon was not yet proficient.

Someone to love, someone like you

It is generally accepted that Lennon’s ability to bend reeds was not highly developed at the time Love Me Do was recorded. This, together with Pat Missin’s observations and perhaps the basic tone of the harmonica make it evident that a Chromatic harmonica was used. Below is the tab for the whole song on a C Chromatic (three octave Hohner CX12), followed by a C diatonic in case you don’t have a chromatic.¬†A key to our tab can be found in the¬†Harp Theory section. But first a reminder of the song..

Full tab on a 3 octave Hohner CX12 Chromatic

First main riff…

6D   6B 5D..4D   3B   3B   3B..3B   (with hand vibrato)

6D..6D..6D   6B..6B..6B   5D..4D   3B   3B   3B..3B

6D ¬†¬†6B 5D..4D ¬† 3B..3B ¬† 3B..4B..4D ¬† (with rolled or drilled ‘r’ tongue effect)

3B   3B..3B   3B   3B   3B..4B..4D

Second riff…as first main riff, but without the last line…

6D   6B 5D..4D   3B   3B   3B..3B   (with hand vibrato)

6D..6D..6D   6B..6B..6B   5D..4D   3B   3B   3B..3B

6D ¬†¬†6B 5D..4D ¬† 3B..3B ¬† 3B..3B ¬† (with rolled or drilled ‘r’ tongue effect)

Third riff and bridge…repeat the first line of the main riff

6D   6B 5D..4D   3B   3B   3B..3B (with hand vibrato)

6D   6B 5D..4D   3B   3B   3B..3B (with hand vibrato)

…Leading straight into…

“Someone to love…” ¬†¬†3D..3D..3B..2D# ¬† (together)

..”Somebody new”..

“Someone to love…” ¬†¬†3D..3D..3B..2D# ¬†¬†(together)

..”Someone like you”..



Fourth riff and solo…start with lines one and three of the main riff

6D   6B 5D..4D   3B  3B   3B..3B (with hand vibrato)

6D..6D..6D 6B 5D..4D ¬† 3B ¬† 3B ¬† 3B..3B (with rolled or drilled ‘r’ tongue effect)

…Leading straight into…

3D..3D..3B..2D#   (with hand vibrato)

3B   2D   2B   1D    (with gentle hand vibrato)

3D..4D..3D   3B..2D#   (grace note)

3B..3B   2D   2B   1D

3B   3B   3B..3B

3B   3B   3B..5B..4D-5D

3B   3B..3B   3B



Outro

6D   6B 5D..4D   3B  3B   3B..3B (with hand vibrato)

…6D..6D ¬† 6B 5D..4D ¬† 3B ¬†3B ¬† 3B..3B

6D ¬†¬†6B 5D..4D ¬† 3B ¬† 3B ¬† 3B..3B (with rolled or drilled ‘r’ tongue effect)

6D..6D..6D 6B 5D..4D ¬†¬†3B ¬† 3B ¬† 3B..3B (with rolled or drilled ‘r’ tongue effect)

_______________________________________________________________

Full tab on a 10 hole C diatonic

First main riff…

5D   5B 4D   3D..2D   2D   2D..2D   (with hand vibrato)

5D..5D..5D   5B..5B..5B   4D   3D..2D   2D   2D..2D

5D ¬† 5B 4D ¬† 3D..2D ¬† 2D ¬† 2D..2D ¬† (with rolled or drilled ‘r’ tongue effect)

2D   2D..2D   2D   2D    2D..4B..3D-4D

Second riff…as first main riff, but without the last line…

5D   5B 4D   3D..2D   2D   2D..2D   (with hand vibrato)

5D..5D..5D   5B..5B..5B   4D   3D..2D   2D   2D..2D

5D ¬†¬†5B 4D ¬† 3D..2D ¬† 2D ¬† 2D..2D ¬† (with rolled or drilled ‘r’ tongue effect

Third riff and bridge…repeat the first line of the main riff

5D   5B 4D   3D..2D   2D   2D..2D (with hand vibrato)

5D   5B 4D   3D..2D   2D   2D..2D (with hand vibrato)

…Leading straight into…

“Someone to love…” ¬†¬†3D” ¬† 3D”..2B..2D’ ¬† (together)

..”Somebody new”..

“Someone to love…” ¬† 3D” ¬† 3D”..2B..2D’ (together)

..”Someone like you”..

Fourth riff and solo…start with lines one and three of the main riff

5D   5B 4D   3D..2D   2D   2D..2D (with hand vibrato)

5D ¬†¬†5B 4D ¬† 3D..2D ¬† 2D ¬† 2D..2D ¬† (with rolled or drilled ‘r’ tongue effect)

…Leading straight into…

3D” ¬† 3D”..3B..2D’ ¬†¬†(with hand vibrato)

2D ¬† 2D”..2B..1D (with gentle hand vibrato)

3D”..3D’..3D” ¬† 2B..2D’ ¬† (grace note)

2D..2D ¬† 2D”..2B..1D

2D   2D   2D..2D

2D   2D   2D..4B..3D-4D

2D   2D..2D   2D

Outro

5D   5B 4D   3D..2D   2D   2D..2D (with hand vibrato)

…5D..5D ¬† 5B 4D ¬† 3D..2D ¬† 2D ¬† 2D..2D

5D ¬†¬†5B 4D ¬† 3D..2D ¬† 2D ¬† 2D..2D (with rolled or drilled ‘r’ tongue effect)

5D..5D..5D 5B ¬† ¬†4D..3D ¬†¬†3B ¬† 3B ¬† 3B..3B (with rolled or drilled ‘r’ tongue effect)

For further background and tab on John Lennon’s harmonica work, visit our More Beatles Harmonica post

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11 Responses to Love Me Do – The Beatles [..with tab]

  1. The Captain says:

    According to ‘Revolution In The Head’ (the late Ian McDonald’s excellent run-through of all the Beatles recordings) and Paul McCartney, the harmonica gave them problems in the studio. Macca says they hadn’t rehearsed with it and had to alter the arrangement on the spot, under George Martin’s direction, changing the solo vocal line crossing into the harmonica break. Martin gave it to McCartney instead of Lennon.. due to an overlap between the last word and the first harmonica note, Lennon had been singing ‘Love me..’ waaah! – not a good idea to miss out the ‘do’!

  2. The Captain says:

    Legend has it that, on meeting Lennon around this time in the Crawdaddy Club in Richmond, The Rolling Stones’ Brian Jones had asked him whether he’d used ‘a harmonica or a blues harp’ on the song. Jones was differentiating between the chromatic and the diatonic, and Lennon answered he’d used ‘a harmonica with a button’.

  3. Wilf says:

    Thanks for the feedback. I’d noticed the swap in the vocals on the video footage. Prior to that I’d assumed the harp was dubbed over the top of Lennon’s vocal. Not something that would work live though. Now it makes sense. Might have to post this in the trivia box!

    Pat Missin mentions the Brian Jones query too. Wouldn’t you just love to have been there? Meanwhile check out the Delbert McClinton interview. There’s a link from the Hey Baby entry under the Trivia/Who Played That menu button.

  4. Pat says:

    I like the song a lot, thanks for posting it here. Its excellent to learn. I have the Beatles discography and on nearly all versions of this song the third line in the c diatonic tabs is something like 5D 5B 4D 3D 2D 2D 2D 2D 4B 4D-3D

  5. billy patscher jr . says:

    hi, i wanna learn to play harp especially beatles songs. how do you do the rolled tongue or drilled r effect. i’m only a beginner. i need all the help i can get. i wanna learn guitar harp& drums. i used to play guitar& hapr but i quit cause i didn’t know what i was doing. can’t affrod lessons i’m handicapped. thanks billy

  6. Wilf says:

    The rolled or drilled r is a sound which is common in many languages and in dialects of English. Some folks can do it, some can’t. Kids are great at using it to mimic the throb of a combustion engine when playing with toy cars. Grown ups are great at it when the weather turns cold – Brrrr! It’s just a case of projecting this through the harmonica on blow notes. Here’s Willy from the Simpsons to demonstrate http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4rJAw-fuYHk

  7. Wilf says:

    Seems incomplete to me Pat. Perhaps it’s best to use tab as a guideline for placing notes on your harp, but listen to the original and try to replicate licks from what you hear too. Painting or playing by numbers (and arrows) are only useful up to a point.

  8. eddy says:

    Thanks for the article, I’m thinking hohner should have made the C chromatic
    the Beatle signature model. if kids buy the harp they want to play along with the record, not look for missing notes

  9. Wilf says:

    Good idea, but not as portable and only half as cool as a 10 hole diatonic! Doc

  10. Mike Cee says:

    Hi, Great website, only recently came across it as a ‘newbie’ with harmonica. Thought it might be interesting to share my recent night out to the ‘Beatlemania’ show in Melbourne, Australia. The tribute act were ‘Them Beatles’ and they were simply brilliant. The interesting point of my post is that the artist portraying John Lennon recreated the songs live, even down to having a Diatonic taped/stuck onto a Chromatic and playing an exact rendition of ‘Love Me Do’ as well as sliding the harmonica package up his sleeve and continuing with the signing and playing his exact copy Rickenbacker guitar.
    Thanks for making the tab and sample music of love me do available, all the best, Mike

  11. Wilf says:

    You’re very welcome. And tha nks for that snapshot of the Beatles tribute band. Sounds like somebody down there was doing his homework!

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