Recording "I'm The Walrus", "The Fool On The Hill", "Blue Jay Way"

Wednesday, September 6, 1967 • For The Beatles

Album Songs recorded during this session officially appear on the Magical Mystery Tour (US LP - Mono) LP.
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Songs recorded


1.

I Am The Walrus

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Tape copying • Tape reduction take 16 into take 17


2.

I Am The Walrus

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording • SI onto take 17


3.

I Am The Walrus

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Mixing • Mono mixing - Remix 1 from take 17


4.

I Am The Walrus

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Mixing • Mono mixing - Remix 2 from take 17


5.

I Am The Walrus

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Mixing • Mono mixing - Remix 3 from take 17


6.

I Am The Walrus

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Mixing • Mono mixing - Remix 4 from take 17


7.

The Fool On The Hill

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording • Take 1

Album Officially released on Anthology 2


8.

Blue Jay Way

Written by George Harrison

Recording • Take 1

Staff

Musicians on "The Fool On The Hill"

Paul McCartney:
Vocals, Piano

Musicians on "Blue Jay Way"

Musicians on "I Am The Walrus"

Paul McCartney:
Bass
Ringo Starr:
Snare drums
John Lennon:
Lead vocals

Production staff

George Martin:
Producer
Geoff Emerick:
Engineer
Ken Scott:
Second Engineer

About

On this day, from 7 pm to 3 am, The Beatles continued work on “I Am The Walrus“, and started recording two new tracks for the soundtrack of their “Magical Mystery Tour” TV special, “Blue Jay Way” and “The Fool On The Hill“.


The first task was to create a reduction mix of “I Am The Walrus” Take 16, recorded the previous day. The goal was to free up space on the tape for further overdubs. This new mix was numbered take 17, and it combined the previous day’s recorded electric piano, electric guitar, tambourine, and drums onto track one of the tape.

After the reduction mix was completed, Paul McCartney added a bass part and Ringo Starr added an extra snare drum, both played simultaneously onto track three of the four-track tape. John Lennon then added his lead vocals onto track four. It’s worth noting that radio DJ Kenny Everett was present at the session, and explained, in his autobiography, why John’s vocals were so raw:

A couple of months after my psychedelic round of golf with John, I was in the Abbey Road recording studios where The Beatles were recording “I Am The Walrus”. George Martin, their producer, was working with John on the vocal track and he said: “Look, you’ve been singing now for about seven hours, you’re beginning to sound hoarse, why don’t we do it tomorrow?” John wanted to get it done that day and that’s why he sounds so raucous on that track.

When he got to the line about getting a tan from standing in the English rain, he stopped and said to me: ‘Reminds me of that day on the Weybridge golf course, hey Ken,’ to which I replied: ‘What?’

‘You remember,’ he said, ‘the Weybridge golf course… the rain… get a tan from standing… oh, forget it.’

I’m sure he always thought I was a complete lemon… or was it a bird?

Kenny Everett – From “The Custard Stops At Hatfield“, 2020

I always felt that John Lennon hid some of his insecurities behind his vocal disguises and nonsense wordplay. This time, he informed us that he wanted his voice to appear to be coming from the moon. I had no idea what a man on the moon might sound like — or even what John was really hearing in his head — but, as usual, no amount of discussion with him could shed a lot of light on the matter. After a little bit of thought, I ended up overloading the console’s mic preamps so as to get a smooth, round kind of distortion — something that was, once again, in clear violation of EMI’s strict rules. To make his voice sound even edgier, I used a cheap low-fidelity talkback microphone. Even then, John wasn’t entirely happy with the result, but, as usual, he was also impatient to get on with it.

“Okay, that’ll do,” he said abruptly after a brief run-through. […]

Geoff Emerick – From “Here, There and Everywhere: My Life Recording the Music of The Beatles“, 2006

Ken Scott sat in on the session that night, assisting along with Richard. Ken would serve as my assistant engineer on most of the remaining sessions that week, because I was soon scheduled to take a long-overdue holiday to the Norfolk Broads, and management had decided that he would be taking my place behind the console.

Geoff Emerick – From “Here, There and Everywhere: My Life Recording the Music of The Beatles“, 2006

Following the overdubs, four mono mixes of “I Am The Walrus” were made and labelled RM1 to RM4. Only the last mix was considered complete. Acetate discs were cut for reference purposes. However, despite these efforts, the song still required several overdubs and edits before completion.

A unique mix of “I Am The Walrus” was created for “Anthology 2“, released in 1996, which combined take 16 from the previous day’s recording session with John’s lead vocals from this day.

Work on “I Am The Walrus” continued on September 27.


At approximately midnight, The Beatles started recording the rhythm track of George Harrison’s “Blue Jay Way“, which was taped in a single take. George played Hammond organ, John played a second organ, Paul was on bass and Ringo on drums. Work on this track continued on the following day.

[On this evening], we had also laid down the rhythm track for a new Harrison song called “Blue Jay Way.” It was, to my way of thinking, a bit of a dirge, and, frankly, I was a bit relieved when previous commitments kept me from completing the song the next night. Later on I had a conversation with Peter Vince, who substituted for me, and he said, “Oh, it wasn’t that bad,” but even when the cello was overdubbed on a month later and the track was mixed with tons of special effects—sessions that I did—the song still didn’t do much for me. Perhaps the main problem was that George had written and played it on organ, and he really only knew a few chords — he was even less of a keyboardist than John was.

Geoff Emerick – From “Here, There and Everywhere: My Life Recording the Music of The Beatles“, 2006

Although work on “The Fool On The Hill” began on September 25, 1967, Paul McCartney ended this day’s session by recording a piano demo of the song in one take for acetate cutting purposes. This particular take was later released on “Anthology 2“, giving fans a glimpse into the early stages of the song’s development.

Three weeks before he recorded it for disc release on Magical Mystery Tour, Paul taped a piano/vocal demo of his latest song. Taking as long to achieve as it sounds – less than three minutes – he sat at the studio piano, playing and singing live. The result is far from the sound of the final master (indeed Paul hadn’t yet fleshed out a full lyric) but it has a charm of its own and a nicely sent-up ending.

From Anthology 2 liner notes

During the second night that we were working on “I Am The Walrus,” Paul asked me to stay late so I could record him doing a simple piano/vocal demo of a new song he had written. When he finished, he asked me what I thought, and I gave him a thumbs-up through the control room window.

“That sounds like the start of a really good song,” I said. “What’s it called?”

“It’s my newest one for the film — it’s called “The Fool On The Hill,” McCartney replied proudly. I turned to Ken, who was assisting. “Just my luck,” I told him. “Paul brings in a beautiful song like that and you’ll get to make the record of it, not me.” […] Knowing that The Beatles were still hard at work at Abbey Road, I didn’t really want to go on vacation, but the EMI brass insisted that I had to take the time off because it had been scheduled so far in advance. George Martin also encouraged me to go, because he knew how burned out I was.

Geoff Emerick – From “Here, There and Everywhere: My Life Recording the Music of The Beatles“, 2006

[…] In date order the next track was George’s “BLUE JAY WAY”, started on September 6. All the way through you hear two Harrison voices — he recorded the second one on top of the first to get the “duet” effect. Later he recorded the vocal backing with Paul. A technical process called “phasing” was used on the vocal sound and on George’s Hammond Organ playing to create that fascinating “swirling” effect. The only additional instrument heard here is a single cello but there are studio-built technical effects used on the very end of the record.

Around the same time (first week of September) John got busy on “I AM THE WALRUS”. As you can imagine this one took a lot of time and The Beatles kept coming back to it right the way through September. The opening features Master Mellotroneer John. Then you hear 8 violins and 4 cellos making all the string music for which producer George Martin did the score. John’s singing is double-tracked which means you hear his voice twice-over all through the song. The other instruments are three horns — plus “radio voices” which keep butting in at odd moments. And, of course, there’s a full-scale choir on the track. Six boys and six girls belonging to the Michael Sammes Singers. You hear the boys singing “Oompah, oompah, stick it up your jumpah!” and the girls do that “Everybody’s got one” bit. Dunno who says “Sit down, father, rest you!” but it sounds very pleasant there at the end doesn’t it! […]

Mal Evans – From the Beatles Monthly Book, N°54, January 1968
Mal Evans – From the Beatles Monthly Book, N°54, January 1968

Last updated on April 9, 2023

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