By the mid-1960s The Beatles had become a worldwide phenomenon. After they had released a slew of albums and had toured the world, the idea came up to begin releasing feature films. Their first on-screen adventure came in the form of the 1964 movie A Hard Day’s Night. The fictional romp showed off 36 hours in the shoes of the Fab Four as they prepared for a TV appearance.
To coincide with the movie, the band were tasked with writing and recording the film’s music. And John Lennon instantly got to work.
Lennon went home and wrote The Beatles song I’ll Cry Instead.
The track sounds a lot like a country hit and it included some truly sombre lyrics. The first lines croon: “I’ve got every reason on earth to be mad / ‘Cause I just lost the only girl I had / If I could get my way / I’d get myself locked up today / But I can’t, so I’ll cry instead.”
Unfortunately, when he presented the song to A Hard Day’s Night’s director, Richard Lester, he was rejected.
Lennon recalled the event in 1980: “I wrote that for A Hard Day’s Night, but Dick Lester didn’t even want it.” Instead, Lester went on to pick out one of the band’s more successful songs.
Lennon said: “He resurrected Can’t Buy Me Love for that sequence instead. I like the middle eight to that song, though – that’s about all I can say about it.”
The Imagine singer was a little hurt by Lester’s dismissal of I’ll Cry Instead – and with good reason.
There was something else behind the lyrics of I’ll Cry Instead than met the eye.
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Cynthia said: “It reflects the frustration he felt at that time [of being] the idol of millions … [while] the freedom and fun of the early days had gone.”
McCartney had a completely different take on the lyrics, however. Instead, he felt that Lennon had written the song autobiographically, and they instead reflected his relationship with his wife at the time, Cynthia.
The song used in place of I’ll Cry Instead – Can’t Buy Me Love – was a runaway success.
Can’t Buy Me Love hit number one in the singles charts in the UK, USA, Australia, and many more. Behind the scenes, just two years later, Lennon met Yoko Ono and started a relationship with her.
Three years after meeting Ono, Lennon had split up with Cynthia, divorced her, and married his new companion.