Partly in preparation for the debut of a new presentation at the Wethersfield Library (515 Silas Deane Highway, Wethersfield, CT) on 13 February 2014 titled "A Hard Day's Night: The Music & The Movie", and partly due to a comment on my 25 October 2013 harmonic analysis of  "If I Fell" by Tommy Leonardi, this blog will be a detailed consideration and history of John Lennon's ballad "If I Fell".
"If I Fell" was recorded by the Beatles in EMI studios on 27 February 1964, when they did 15 takes. Some time prior to that, however, Lennon recorded a home demo that in some ways is very similar to the finished product, and in other ways is very different.
Comparing this demo side-by-side with the version found on the album, the demo is a half-step higher pitched (it's in E-flat) than the release (which is in D major). Why is anybody's guess. Accounting for that change of key, the last chord of the first verse is different (vi in the demo, I in the release). The last two beats of the middle 8 are different (referring to the words "So I", which in the demo use a pattern Lennon would use again some years later in "Imagine", which is entirely absent from the finished product). Lyrically, the two are almost identical (and the few differences, I suspect, are more the result of Lennon confusing different verses rather than any intentional revisions). And, lastly, the codas are very different.
The demo coda uses the four chords that open each verse (E-flat, F minor, G minor, F minor) in a slightly altered rhythmic pattern, heard a total of four times, as Lennon (presumably) improvises vocals over those chords. The release, however, uses different chords (even accounting for the key change) and reprises the opening lyrics from the introduction (although melodically they are very different).
Unfortunately, there is no way of knowing the date on this home recording, although logic would suggest prior to 27 February 1964, given that that's the day the band recorded the tune in the studio. But even that is questionable due to the fact that the intro was absent from the first 10 takes (Lewisohn, page 40). If the intro was written before the studio recording of the song, why is it absent from the first 10 takes? Why take it out? The obvious answer would be that when they started work on the song, the intro had not been written yet, they realized it needed a little something that the beginning, and therefore wrote it in the studio between takes 10 and 11. But then what of Lennon's demo? It seems highly unlikely that John would have recorded a demo after finishing recording it in the studio - that would, after all, defeat the very purpose of the demo. I suppose the demo could be forged (this wouldn't be the first time), but I suspect it is legitimate.
Further complicating things, Paul McCartney has recently claimed the introduction was his idea - not Lennon's (Q magazine, May 2013), which seems to support Lewisohn's observations, but contradict Lennon's demo. But at the same time, P McC is notorious for rewriting history. On the other hand, Paul used a half-step modulation in "And I Love Her" (from C-sharp minor to D minor) that is similar to the modulation between the introduction and body of "If I Fell" (E-flat minor to D major). Perhaps Paul, pleased with the half-step key change he had just used in "And I Love Her", reprised the concept (but inverted - going down rather than up) for the intro to "If I Fell". But there, again, how do you account for Lennon's demo?
Bottom line: Unfortunately, the only conclusion that can be drawn given this evidence is that we simply don't know when the intro was written, nor who wrote it.
Lewisohn, Mark. The Beatles Recording Sessions. Harmony Books, New York, NY, 1988.
This blog is a workshop for developing my analyses of The Beatles' music.