Recording and mixing "Old Brown Shoe", recording "Something"

Wednesday, April 16, 1969 • For The Beatles

Part of


"Abbey Road" sessions

Feb 22 - Aug 25, 1969 • Songs recorded during this session appear on Abbey Road

Album Songs recorded during this session officially appear on the Abbey Road LP.
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Three, Abbey Road

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About

The first session of the day lasted from 2:30 pm to 5 pm and saw George Harrison recording a solo demo of “Old Brown Shoe” in a single take. “Old Brown Shoe” had previously been rehearsed by The Beatles during the “Get Back” sessions on January 27January 28 and January 29, 1969; and George had recorded a first demo on February 25, 1969.


For the second session of the day (from 7 pm to 2:45 am), George was joined by Paul McCartney and John Lennon, to continue the recording “Old Brown Shoe“. The presence of Ringo Starr and who plays what depends on the source:

  • According to “The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions” by Mark Lewisohn, Ringo was present. To record the four takes of the basic track, George was on guitar and vocals, John on rhythm guitar, Paul on a “jangle” piano and Ringo on drums.
  • According to the “Abbey Road (50th anniversary boxset)” book by Kevin Howlett, Ringo Starr was absent due to his filming commitments on “The Magic Christian“. According to Kevin Howlett, George was on guitar and vocals, John was on the “jangle” piano and Paul played the drums.

The blog beatlesebooks.com leans toward Mark Lewisohn’s version:

Noteworthy of mention here is the additional assertion by Kevin Howlett that the drums on the official recording of “Old Brown Shoe” were performed by Paul. While Ringo was indeed in the process of filming the movie “The Magic Christian” at the time, it was primarily filmed on location in London, which would make him available for this evening’s Beatles recording session. Upon listening to the late January “Get Back / Let It Be” rehearsals of “Old Brown Shoe,” Ringo’s drum performances developed quite closely to what we hear on the rhythm track as recorded on April 16th. Paul’s rudimentary drum-work, as witnessed on “The Ballad Of John And Yoko,” “Dear Prudence” and “Back In The U.S.S.R.,” the latter song being a composite of Paul, John and George playing drums by the use of overdubs, appears to not be of the caliber of what we hear on the released “Old Brown Shoe.” “Anything I really can’t do is ‘shuffles,’” Paul himself admitted during a filmed interview in the 1990’s concerning his drumming ability. “They’re difficult to do. That’s just the coordination I can’t do…But I can do more of just a straight sort of rock (beat),” which he then demonstrates for the cameras. Therefore, it appears most likely that Ringo broke away from his acting duties to join The Beatles for this April evening’s recording session, something George Harrison would undoubtedly have preferred for recording one of his songs.

Four takes of the basic track were recorded, all complete except take 1. Take 3 was released on the “Abbey Road (50th anniversary boxset)” in 2019.

Take 4 was considered to be the best, and overdubs were added. Paul added a bass part, and George added a guitar to complement the bass sound. George re-recorded his lead vocals, with some harmonies by Paul and John. Paul and John then added some extra backing vocals. All the vocal parts were intentionally distorted.

Four stereo mixes were then done and remix 3 was considered to be the best. Some last overdubs would be added and the song completed on April 18, 1969.


After the work on “Old Brown Shoe” was completed, The Beatles switched to George’s “Something”.

Like “Old Brown Shoe“, “Something” had been rehearsed during the “Get Back” sessions (on January 28 and January 29) and demoed on February 25, 1969.

On this day, late at night, 13 instrumental takes of the basic track were recorded. Like for “Old Brown Shoe“, the credit varies depending on the source:

  • For Mark Lewisohn, Paul was on bass, Ringo on drums, George on guitar and George Martin on piano. And John didn’t contribute to the recording.
  • For Kevin Howlett, George was on guitar, John on bass, Ringo on drums and George Martin on piano.

Those recordings were abandoned in favour of a remake done on May 2, 1969.

Last updated on December 10, 2021

Songs recorded


1.

Old Brown Shoe

Written by George Harrison

Recording • Take 1


2.

Old Brown Shoe

Written by George Harrison

Recording • Take 1


3.

Old Brown Shoe

Written by George Harrison

Recording • Take 2

Album Officially released on Abbey Road (50th anniversary boxset)


4.

Old Brown Shoe

Written by George Harrison

Recording • Take 3


5.

Old Brown Shoe

Written by George Harrison

Recording • Take 4


6.

Something

Written by George Harrison

Recording • Take 1


7.

Something

Written by George Harrison

Recording • Take 2


8.

Something

Written by George Harrison

Recording • Take 3


9.

Something

Written by George Harrison

Recording • Take 4


10.

Something

Written by George Harrison

Recording • Take 5


11.

Something

Written by George Harrison

Recording • Take 6


12.

Something

Written by George Harrison

Recording • Take 7


13.

Something

Written by George Harrison

Recording • Take 8


14.

Something

Written by George Harrison

Recording • Take 9


15.

Something

Written by George Harrison

Recording • Take 10


16.

Something

Written by George Harrison

Recording • Take 11


17.

Something

Written by George Harrison

Recording • Take 12


18.

Something

Written by George Harrison

Recording • Take 13


19.

Old Brown Shoe

Written by George Harrison

Mixing • Stereo mixing - Remix 1 from take 4


20.

Old Brown Shoe

Written by George Harrison

Mixing • Stereo mixing - Remix 2 from take 4


21.

Old Brown Shoe

Written by George Harrison

Mixing • Stereo mixing - Remix 3 from take 4

Staff

Musicians on "Something"

Paul McCartney:
Drums ?, Bass ?
Ringo Starr:
Drums ?
John Lennon:
Bass ?
George Harrison:
Rhythm guitar
George Martin:
Piano

Musicians on "Old Brown Shoe"

Paul McCartney:
Backing vocals, Piano ?, Bass, Drums ?
Ringo Starr:
Drums ?
John Lennon:
Piano ?, Backing vocals, Rhythm guitar ?
George Harrison:
Guitars, Lead vocal

Production staff

George Martin:
Producer
Phil McDonald:
Engineer
Jeff Jarratt:
Engineer
Richard Lush:
Second Engineer

Going further


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!

Shop on Amazon


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.

Read more on The Beatles Bible

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