Feb 05

THE BEATLES – “Ticket To Ride”

Popular18 comments • 4,436 views

#193, 24th April 1965

Like almost any break-up, “Ticket To Ride” flickers between sadness and anger. The sadness is tentative, the anger mixed with denial, and you could read the perky coda as acceptance if you like. It sounds to me, though, like a tacked-on “Beatley bit” – even unto the handclaps – appeasing anyone put off by the startling drone and drag of the song proper. Which is thankfully great enough to shrug off such crassness.

It’s an acute lyric with a coy drug reference or two if you’re squinting right – but “Ticket To Ride” works because the music fits that lyric so well. The lead-weighted, hesitant rhythms match our not-quite-hero’s reluctance to meet the inevitable: he thinks it’s today, affecting vagueness when the matter is out of his hands. He doesn’t deny the rightness of his girl’s diagnosis – he hardly needs to, when his resentment at her newfound decisiveness seeps through every bar.



  1. 1
    Anonymous on 23 Feb 2005 #

    This is, of course, a major turning point in the Beatles’ career, one that foreshadows Rubber Soul. There had been “resentful dumpee” lyrics before (e.g., “I’ll Cry Instead”), but this one is far more complex than any of the previous. This is well beyond adolescent romance, full of the tangled issues of adult life. There are no parental or other authority figures to blame–just him, her, and the eponymous “ticket,” and he’s trying to make sense of it all. I recall that some were shocked about the line “She said that living with me was bringing her down / She would never be free when I was around.” This might be one of the first suggestions of [non-]marital cohabitation in mainstream pop. It’s not something the average adolescent could completely understand, but the song retains its appeal forty years on as most of us have by now learned exactly what it means.
    Doctor Mod | Email | 02.21.05 – 1:55 am | #


    i hear you can bootleg this song with pretty much anything given a raw enough vocal style
    Alan | 02.21.05 – 5:03 am | #


    The irony of the LBO’s efforts is that I’d forgotten how relatively lugubrious the original is.
    Tom | Homepage | 02.21.05 – 5:37 am | #


    A drunken Sinister crowd once attempted to Prove By Science TTR’s versatility by singing it loudly over every song played by an awful pub band in Finsbury Park. The band didn’t seem too happy with our experiment but science won the day.
    robster | Email | 02.21.05 – 6:03 am | #


    hahaha, that will have been at my instigation, following the london bootleg orchestra’s original discovery at glastonbury…
    carsmile | Email | 02.21.05 – 7:11 am | #


    I’d heard that Lennon actually wrote this as ” Ticket to Ryde “, as in Ryde in the Isle of Wight.

    Lennonword play that got “corrected” by a publishers eventual error.
    Brian C | Email | 02.21.05 – 9:56 am | #


    There is a very funny section in Simon Garfield’s The Nation’s Favourite where Radio 1 decide to resurrect the “Ticket To Ryde” pun for some unspeakable bit of organised jollity.
    Tom | Email | Homepage | 02.21.05 – 9:59 am | #


    So if it is/was Ryde – it becomes your basic 3-way ( pun that is )…..
    Brian C | Email | 02.21.05 – 10:11 am | #


    My Favourite Beatles song. I like what Dr. Mod says about the lyrics and it’s a musical step forward too with it’s humpback rhythm and slightly heavier, more stagey guitar delivery. I read that Paul came up with the drum part and taught Ringo to play it that way. I love the phrase “I *think* I’m gonna be sad/I *think* it’s today”. He *thinks*, he doesn’t know.
    Dr. C | Email | 02.21.05 – 10:35 am | #


    A technical critique of every Beatles song :

    Brian C | Email | 02.21.05 – 10:51 am | #


    Lennon actually wrote this as ” Ticket to Ryde “, as in Ryde in the Isle of Wight

    Influenced, no doubt, by the Marvin Gaye classic “Can I Get To Widnes?”
    LondonLee | Email | Homepage | 02.21.05 – 11:56 am | #


    This is where I came in. Hit number 1 on my birthday. I like to think I was at least partly responsible for the ‘major turning point’ mentioned above.
    jeff w | 02.21.05 – 2:18 pm | #


    That goes without saying, Jeff
    Dr. C | Email | 02.21.05 – 4:54 pm | #


    Lennon actually wrote this as ” Ticket to Ryde “, as in Ryde in the Isle of Wight

    Influenced, no doubt, by the Marvin Gaye classic “Can I Get To Widnes?”

    Or even ‘Sexual Ealing’.
    rosie | Email | 02.21.05 – 6:32 pm | #


    My second-favorite Beatles song*. And even Lou Reed, for all that he swears he always hated the Beatles, couldn’t resist ripping it off: “There She Goes Again” from the first Velvets album is essentially “Ticket To Ride” played sideways.

    *”Paperback Writer” still rules my hert.
    Jack Fear | Email | Homepage | 02.22.05 – 9:38 am | #

  2. 2
    Frank Kogan on 3 Mar 2005 #

    From Why Mucus Slacks (WMS#4, 1988), this comment from John W�jtowicz: “Remember the highway sign that read ‘RYE’ with ‘PLAYLAND’ underneath? Mark Hatton once told me that, as a child, some of his best times were at Playland, and so he could not understand the girl whom the Beatles were singing about: ‘She’s got a ticket to Rye – and she don’t care!’ (Young Mark: ‘Why would anyone not want to go to Playland?’)”

    (Hatton’s also the fellow who said, “If I hear a bustle in my hedgerow, I’m reaching for my shotgun.”)

  3. 3
    OLREG on 29 Dec 2005 #

    She’s got a ticket to rye,
    She’s got a ticket to rye yy,
    She’s got a ticket to rye,
    But she don’t care
    I don’t profess to know where it came from but nowhere in the song do you hear the word ride. Hell, maybe Paul knows.

  4. 4
    jeff w on 27 Sep 2006 #

  5. 5
    Dave Cousin on 16 Dec 2007 #

    I always thought that the lyrics were ‘ticket to Rye’ when I was young up until when I was about 9 or 10 then I was told it was ‘Ride’, but It seems they were singing Rye after all then so I was right to begin with.

  6. 6
    Billy Smart on 5 Jan 2011 #

    TOTPWatch: The Beatles performed ‘Ticket To Ride’ and ‘Yes It Is’ on the Top Of The Pops transmitted on 15 April 1965. Also in the studio that week were; Dave Berry, Peter & Gordon, The Kinks and Val Doonican. Alan Freeman was the host.

    Although no complete copy survives, a 25-second extract of The Beatles’ performance exists, appearing on a Doctor Who episode (‘The Executioners’, part 1 of ‘The Chase’)! Its really good. And that’s all that remains of The Beatles on Top Of The Pops…

  7. 7
    swanstep on 6 Jan 2011 #

    I’m a little staggered that this one only gets an 8 – anybody would give their left whatever to write and record this even now, let alone on spec. for a movie in 1965. Anyhow, for me this is one of the records that makes the whole of pop music just seem like simultaneously the most fun and most interesting thing possible (TtR feels to me almost a ‘hallelujah’ chorus for a new exciting sort of youth culture that’s as good as supposed high culture and that’s laughingly high on itself). I could be talked into TtR being a 9 objectively I suppose, but in my heart this is an easy:

  8. 8
    Tom on 6 Jan 2011 #

    I don’t think it sounds fun at all! There are Beatles tracks I think I undermarked but I’d happily leave this as an 8.

  9. 9
    wichita lineman on 6 Jan 2011 #

    No fun at all, a smoky haze of shrugs, bitterness, and incapacitated misery – “I think I’m gonna be sad” (“I think”??). The polar opposite of the Dreamweavers’ hyper-aware, end of the affair Popular entry from 1956, It’s Almost Tomorrow. Unlike the lyrically similar but far more peppy Day Tripper, it’s hard to sympathise with Ticket To Ride’s rejected boy. He sounds like a needy pain in the ass.

    A lot of songs were written off the cuff for the Help! soundtrack which REALLY sound like Beatles by numbers (It’s Only Love, Another Girl) but surely not this. The chord changes from the verse going into the chorus are just beautiful, as unexpected and heart-twisting as the Beach Boys’ Warmth Of The Sun or Please Let Me Wonder. They were also the first “chord changes” I was consciously aware of, aged 12 or so.

    A big thumbs up for the Carpenters’ version which turns the lyric from stoned indifference to self-doubt and sleepless confusion, mussing up the chords and coming over as totally heartbreaking. It was their A&M debut single in 1969 and a rare flop – they did better with the follow up, Close To You.

  10. 10
    swanstep on 6 Jan 2011 #

    No fun? That’s crazy-talk. This is the ancestor of all the mildly perverse, bitchy ‘I’m not happy but I’m not sad either’ alt-pop-music with triumphant pulsing music underneath that almost everyone loves. It’s the whole spectrum of vexation and boredom being claimed for pop music and it’s wonderful… A couple of days a week I’d say this is the the best pop hit since Heartbreak Hotel. I thought that that’s what most people thought actually, but maybe I’m just wrong about that!

  11. 11
    the pinefox on 6 Jan 2011 #


    During this thread Ryde seems to have become Rye, which would make Emily’s ‘Reflect on Rye’ a descendant of Lennon’s #1 … which it is anyway, as ‘Ticket to Ride’ is surely a major proto-indiepop moment.

  12. 12
    Lena on 26 Jul 2011 #

    Another see-saw song at #2 – http://musicsoundsbetterwithtwo.blogspot.com/2011/07/past-perfect-and-future-them-here-comes.html Thanks for reading as always!

  13. 13
    lonepilgrim on 10 Nov 2011 #

    enough folks in the US bought this ticket to get it to number one there as well – as noted here:


  14. 14
    punctum on 11 Nov 2011 #

    Only for a week, though.

  15. 15
    hectorthebat on 10 Apr 2014 #

    Critic watch:

    1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die, and 10,001 You Must Download (2010)
    Blender (USA) – The Greatest Songs Ever, One Song Added Every Other Month
    Bruce Pollock (USA) – The 7,500 Most Important Songs of 1944-2000 (2005)
    Dave Marsh & Kevin Stein (USA) – The 40 Best of the Top 40 Singles by Year (1981) 4
    Dave Marsh (USA) – The 1001 Greatest Singles Ever Made (1989) 29
    Paul Williams (USA) – Rock and Roll: The 100 Best Singles of All Time (1993)
    Rolling Stone (USA) – The 100 Greatest Beatles Songs (2010) 17
    Rolling Stone (USA) – The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time (2004) 384
    Rolling Stone (USA) – The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time (Updated 2010) 394
    Stephen Spignesi and Michael Lewis (USA) – The 100 Best Beatles Songs (2004) 29
    Mojo (UK) – The 101 Greatest Tracks by The Beatles (2006) 23
    New Musical Express (UK) – The Top 150 Singles of All Time (1987) 129
    Paul Morley (UK) – Words and Music, 210 Greatest Pop Singles of All Time (2003)
    Uncut (UK) – The 50 Greatest Beatles Tracks (2001) 12
    Now & Then (Sweden) – The Beatles’ 50 Best Songs (1992) 6
    Berlin Media (Germany) – The 100 Best Singles of All Time (1998) 87
    Rolling Stone (Germany) – The Best Singles of 5 Decades (1997)
    Gilles Verlant and Thomas Caussé (France) – 3000 Rock Classics (2009)
    Toby Creswell (Australia) – 1001 Songs (2005)
    Giannis Petridis (Greece) – 2004 of the Best Songs of the Century (2003)

  16. 16
    lonepilgrim on 24 Jul 2015 #

    when you break the song down into its parts, stumbling rhythm, distorted guitars, needling lyrics and harmonies its seems miraculous that this got to number 1 or that it sounds so good. It was recorded after The Byrds version of ‘Mr Tambourine Man’ but sounds very similar, no doubt due to the 12 string Rickenbacker.

  17. 17
    Tommy Mack on 25 Jul 2015 #

    Is it a twelve string? Sounds like it, but in every clip I’ve seen for the song, George Harrison is playing his (6 string) Gretsch Country Gent.

  18. 18
    Gareth Parker on 8 Jun 2021 #

    Ian MacDonald notes the droning ‘raga-like’ melody here. 7/10.

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