“Tell Me Why” is an excellent album cut from A Hard Day’s Night. Part of the strength of The Beatles was their ability to be consistent in their songwriting. Their melodies were almost always catchy, and when they weren’t, they were at least interesting (See: “Within You Without You” or “Tomorrow Never Knows”).
John Lennon wrote “Tell Me Why” in the style of girl groups at the time with the lead vocal line in harmony most of the time. Those background harmony vocals are really on point, sounding so full that it enriches the lead line tenfold. Ringo even gets a shout-out here for his sweet drum licks at the beginning of the song and throughout the chorus. Paul McCartney’s walking bassline during the chorus keeps the song driving forward and really adds more energy to a song that already has tons of energy from Lennon’s lead vocal almost cracking as it descends over the word “Why” in the chorus.
This song is a great example of how The Beatles could be incredibly catchy and still do very interesting things with the arrangement of the song. The chorus is twelve bars long but the verse is only eight bars. On top of that, the bridge is ten bars, which is very odd. It combines the six bar phrases of the chorus and the four bar phrases of the verses. Still, it never sounds like they’re reaching and aren’t in complete control of the arrangement and that’s really something.
And how about that bridge, by the way? In the fifth bar, everyone jumps up into falsetto to sing “Is there anything I can do” with that vocal melisma at the end and it’s just one of those special moments in music that reminds you why you love it so dearly.