I remember, as a kid, listening to the start of this song over and over again – A Hard Day’s Night was something my parents had on vinyl, which also fascinated me as a kid – because it sounded “wrong” for some reason, but not in a bad way. Listening to it again now, I immediately understand what it is that I couldn’t work out back then: it’s the way that the “Woah-oh-” splits for the “aaaaaah” in a way you both expect (the high note) and don’t (the low), and that it’s immediately followed by a repetition, instead of some kind of climax; maybe it’s just me, but the opening feels like it should go higher, and longer or just differently. In what is otherwise a straightforward early-mid period Beatles tune, it’s an unexpected break from the norm.
Talking about the period, we’re still in the period where Beatle lyrics are far less interesting than the music they relax in, and this song is a great example (with the exception of the “please/triviality” rhyme); lots of “come on”s, cliches (“I’m gonna love her till the cows come home,” John? Really?) and misogyny (“I gotta whole lotta things to tell her/When I get home” and “I’ll love her more/Till I walk out that door/Again”), all made infinitely more palatable than it has any right to be by the rawness of the vocals (There’s a sexiness and energy there that still thrills today; I can only imagine what it felt like back then, when this was all new and somewhat alien).
Overall, “When I Get Home” is weirdly… short, perhaps, but maybe I mean weightless or empty; there’s very little here, and every time I hear it, I always feel slightly disappointed not only that it doesn’t live up to that opening – That’s the main hook, and when that part isn’t happening, you’re waiting and hoping it returns throughout the entire thing – but that it’s over so soon and without actually doing anything. It’s like a wasted opportunity more than a complete song, in a lot of ways, but that might be the kind of thing that has to happen when you’re gearing up to create new things.