Recording and mixing "Happiness Is A Warm Gun"

Wednesday, September 25, 1968 • For The Beatles

Part of


"The Beatles" (aka the White Album) sessions

May 30 - Oct 18, 1968 • Songs recorded during this session appear on The Beatles (Mono)

Album Songs recorded during this session officially appear on the The Beatles (Mono) LP.
Timeline More from year 1968
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Master album


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About

This was the third day spent on John Lennon’s “Happiness Is A Warm Gun“. During the past two days, The Beatles brought the number of takes to 70. At the end of the previous night, they decided that they would combine take 53 and take 65 of the rhythm track, to then move forward with overdubs.

The edit of take 53 and take 65 was therefore the first task of the day. Take 53 was used up to 1’34”, then the final section from take 65 continued to the end. The result of the editing was called… take 65.

The overdubs process could then start. From beatlesebooks.com:

Onto track six was recorded John’s lead vocal, complete with his mock-50’s monologue “When I hold you in my arms…” that is reminiscent of bass man Bill Reed on The Diamonds’ 1957 hit “Little Darlin.'” John’s vocal was treated with Automatic Double-Tracking. Paul’s harmonies were included on track six as well. Paul added a second bass part onto track eight. Various overdubs were taped onto track seven, these being John on organ for the opening section of the song, George playing “fuzz guitar” during the “I need a fix” segment, Ringo on tambourine and hi-hat during the “Mother Superior” segment, and Paul on piano during the final verse. Track five contained John, Paul and George’s backing vocals for the song’s final segment, Paul and George taking the high parts and John singing a doo-wop bass part, such as “Dah-duh-duh.”  

Mark Lewisohn’s book “The Beatles Recording Sessions” stipulate that a tuba that happened to be in the studio was overdubbed on this day, presumably played by Paul, although its presence is nearly indecipherable in the finished product. […]

The session, which started at 7:30 pm, ended at 5 am for The Beatles. But Chris Thomas (who produced this session as George Martin was on holiday for most of September 1968) and the two engineers stayed in the control room of Studio Two from 5 am to 6:15 am, and made two mono mixes. Acetates of one of those mixes were created for The Beatles to listen to; those were still labeled with the original song title “Happiness Is A Warm Gun In Your Hand“.

The mono mix appearing on the White Album would be made on the following day, September 26.

From Facebook – 25-26 September 1968 – Photo by Linda McCartney / Linda Enterprises Ltd. © Paul McCartney (https://www.lindamccartney.com/)
From Facebook – 25-26 September 1968 Photo by Linda McCartney / Linda Enterprises Ltd. © Paul McCartney (https://www.lindamccartney.com/)
From Facebook – 25-26 September 1968 Photo by Linda McCartney / Linda Enterprises Ltd. © Paul McCartney (https://www.lindamccartney.com/)
From Lot 100 – THE BEATLES – HAPPINESS IS A WARM GUN (IN (omegaauctions.co.uk) – September 28, 2021 – THE BEATLES – HAPPINESS IS A WARM GUN (IN YOUR HAND) – ORIGINAL EMIDISC 7″ ACETATE RECORDING. A quite wonderful piece of Beatles history with this original Emidisc 7″ acetate of ‘Happiness Is A Warm Gun In Your Hand’ (the track shortly after being shortened to ‘Happiness Is A Warm Gun’). One of only 2 known copies to be produced. The recording is pressed on a single-sided acetate record, the printed Emidisc labels with handwritten “Happiness Is A Warm Gun In Your Hand 45 Beatles’ with ‘In Your Hand’ crossed out. This earlier take of the track contains a different mix of the final commercial release (noted with the Tuba more present in the mix) and also contains John Lennon singing ‘I Need A Fix ‘Cause I’m Going Down’ twice in a row in the first bridge section rather than just once in the final commercial release. The record is in VG condition. Well-presented, there are some surface marks and scuffs with some light signs of wear to the metal lacquer. The record plays without any problems with only light surface noise and no skips/jumps. An insight into the fascinating recording history of this track and indeed the production of the acetates can be found in Mark Lewisohn’s book ‘The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions’:

“Session date: 25th September 1968. A tuba that happened to be in the studio was overdubbed on this day, presumably played by Paul, although its presence is nearly indecipherable in the finished product. The enjoyable time they had performing these overdubs, understandably, were what caused John, George and Paul to all claim that this song was their favourite on the ‘White Album’. By 5 am, the group left for the morning, satisfied that yet another track for the album was “in the can.”

The lights in EMI Studios weren’t exactly turned off quite yet though. Between 5 and 6:15 am, the engineering team of Thomas, Scott and Sheady worked at creating a usable mono mix of the song, two attempts being made during these early morning hours. These weren’t deemed usable, however, but acetates were created of one of these mixes for The Beatles to hear, the acetate discs being labelled with what was still considered as the songs’ title, “Happiness Is A Warm Gun In Your Hand.”

Paul was eager to play the acetate of this exciting new song to his recently acquired new girlfriend Linda Eastman (soon to be his Mrs.) who had just moved in with him at that time. However, it was decided that some of the overdubs needed tweaking which facilitated new mono mixes being created.

The same engineering team of Thomas, Scott and Sheady got to work on this later that same day in the control room of EMI Studio Two, starting at about 7 pm on September 26th, 1968. A decision was now made to shorten the title of the song to “Happiness Is A Warm Gun” since the documentation on this day reflects this change. The tuba was placed lower in the mix this time around, as was the organ overdub.”
FRom THE SOURCE – Acetates – E.M.I. – Happiness Is A Warm Gun In Your Hand (beatlesource.com) – This disc was auctioned by Christies in September 2005. There is no indication what mix this is. […] A single-sided 7″ acetate, the white Emidisc label inscribed in red ballpoint pen in an unknown hand Happiness Is A Warm Gun In Your Hand, The Beatles

Last updated on September 19, 2021

Songs recorded


1.

Happiness Is A Warm Gun

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Editing • Editing of takes 53 and 65, called take 65


2.

Happiness Is A Warm Gun

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording • SI onto take 65


3.

Happiness Is A Warm Gun

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Mixing • Mono mixing - Remix 1 from take 65


4.

Happiness Is A Warm Gun

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Mixing • Mono mixing - Remix 2 from take 65

Staff

Musicians on Happiness Is A Warm Gun

Paul McCartney:
Bass, Piano, Backing vocals
Ringo Starr:
Tambourine
John Lennon:
Organ, Backing vocals, Lead vocal
George Harrison:
Lead electric guitar, Backing vocals

Production staff

Chris Thomas:
Producer
Ken Scott:
Engineer
Mike Sheady:
Second Engineer

The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions • Mark Lewisohn

The definitive guide for every Beatles recording sessions from 1962 to 1970.

We owe a lot to Mark Lewisohn for the creation of those session pages, but you really have to buy this book to get all the details - the number of takes for each song, who contributed what, a description of the context and how each session went, various photographies... And an introductory interview with Paul McCartney!

The Beatles Bible

If we like to think, in all modesty, that the Paul McCartney Project is the best online ressource for everything Paul McCartney, The Beatles Bible is for sure the definitive online site focused on the Beatles. There are obviously some overlap in terms of content between the two sites, but also some major differences in terms of approach.

Have a look at https://www.beatlesbible.com/1968/09/25/editing-recording-mixing-happiness-is-a-warm-gun/

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