Recording and mixing "Only A Northern Song"

Tuesday, February 14, 1967 • For The Beatles

Album Songs recorded during this session officially appear on the Yellow Submarine (Mono) LP.
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Songs recorded


Only A Northern Song

Written by George Harrison

Tape copying • Tape reduction take 3 into take 10


Only A Northern Song

Written by George Harrison

Tape copying • Tape reduction take 3 into take 11


Only A Northern Song

Written by George Harrison

Tape copying • Tape reduction take 3 into take 12


Only A Northern Song

Written by George Harrison

Recording • SI onto take 12


Only A Northern Song

Written by George Harrison

Mixing • Mono mixing - Remix 1 from take 12


Only A Northern Song

Written by George Harrison

Mixing • Mono mixing - Remix 2 from take 12


Only A Northern Song

Written by George Harrison

Mixing • Mono mixing - Remix 3 from take 12


Musicians on "Only A Northern Song"

George Harrison:
Lead vocals

Production staff

George Martin:
Geoff Emerick:
Richard Lush:
Second engineer


On the previous day, The Beatles recorded nine takes of George Harrison’s “Only A Northern Song” under the working title “Not Known“.

During the session, which started at 7 pm and ended at 12:30 am, they continued working on the track, which received its final name, “Only A Northern Song“.

The first task was to create a reduction mix of Take 3 to free up space on the four-track tape. They made three reduction mixes, numbered Takes 10 to 12. During this process, drums and tambourine filled track one, the organ was put on track two, and Paul McCartney’s bass part was dropped.

George Harrison then overdubbed his double-tracked lead vocal parts on tracks three and four of Take 12. The lyrics he sang on this day differ noticeably from the released version, but they can be heard on the composite version released on “Anthology 2” in 1996.

At the end of the session, three mono mixes, labelled Remix Mono 1 to 3, were made for demo purposes only.

At this stage, the song was deemed not good enough to be included on the upcoming “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” album. As a result, George Harrison was asked to come up with another composition as a replacement. He did so with the Indian-flavored “Within You Without You,” which recording began on March 15, 1967.

The recording of “Only A Northern Song” resumed on April 20, 1967.

When [George Harrison] brought a new song along to me, even before he had played it, I would say to myself, ‘I wonder if it is going to be any better than the last one?’ It was in this light that I looked at the first number he brought me for the Sgt. Pepper album, which was ‘It’s Only A Northern Song’. I groaned inside when I heard it. We did make a recording of it on 14 February, but I knew it was never going to make it.

I had to tell George that as far as Pepper was concerned, I did not think his song would be good enough for what was shaping up as a really strong album. I suggested he come up with something a bit better. George was a bit bruised: it is never pleasant being rejected, even if you are friendly with the person who is doing the rejecting.

George Martin – From “With A Little Help From My Friends: The Making of Sgt. Pepper“, 1995

It took several more hours of work the following evening before they came up with something they felt was even halfway decent. Shortly afterward, an unhappy Paul said, “Look, let’s knock it on the head for the night,” and they ended the session early. There was no more mention of resuming work on the song until after the mixes of Pepper were done and they were looking for material to give to the Yellow Submarine film project. It wouldn’t surprise me if John and Paul had simply told George to go back to the drawing board and come up with something better.

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

From The Beatles History (
From Meet the Beatles for Real: you really got a hold on me – Photo by Henry Grossman – I find this to be just so awesome!   Notice the girls sitting at EMI waiting for the Beatles. Lizzie Bravo is the girl in the glasses with the beautiful smile. Next to her is who I believe to be her friend, Denise who took this great photo of Paul where he looks sort of like a spy during the recording of the Sgt. Pepper album. In the Grossman photo she is holding up the Paul photo that she took and here is a copy of the actual photo.  I just think this is so cool and I hope it doesn’t anger anyone that I posted it.

During the day, Paul McCartney was visited by a Liverpool fan, Deirdre Mahon, who told her story to the Daily Post in 2020.

From, January 19, 2020:

[…] But that wasn’t their last brush with the Beatle – with a second memorable meeting coming on Boxing Day 1966.

Deirdre said: “A year later I said to my friend that I bet Paul and his family would be in London. So we hitchhiked there! We arrived at St John’s Wood and as we approached Paul’s electric gates, his brother, Mike, who we knew quite well from the Liverpool scene, came to put the rubbish out. He looked at us and said ‘Oh my goodness, hello, what are you doing here?’ Lying through our teeth, we said we were visiting relatives in the area so thought we’d drop by. He invited us in, and all the family were there, the same as last year – together with Paul’s girlfriend, Jane Asher. Paul asked us what we wanted to drink. We hadn’t a clue what to say so he gave us a sherry!

“We stayed for an hour or so and then said we had to go – we didn’t want to overstay our welcome. Paul gave me his phone number as he knew I was going for an audition at the Italia Conti Stage School the following year. He said that when I was in London to give him a ring and come over.

“My audition date was February 14, 1967. Paul asked me to phone him when I arrived at St John’s Wood tube station so he would know when to expect me, which I did. When I arrived, there were hordes of girls by his gate. I walked through the crowd, saying ‘excuse me, excuse me’ and could hear girls say ‘who’s she?’ I pressed the intercom and (Beatles personal assistant) Mal Evans answered. ‘Oh, hello, it’s Deirdre (gulp)’. ‘Oh yes, hang on.’ Phew, It wasn’t a dream! Mal let me in. My fear had turned into a little smugness – I was walking on air!

“Paul was waiting for me. We went into the lounge, and Martha, his gorgeous Old English Sheepdog, was there to greet me too. There were armchairs, and a green velvet sofa by the fire – and that’s where we spent a lot of the time, chatting. Paul asked me about drama school and how the audition went. Previously, in one of our phone calls, he told me not to be nervous. It obviously did the trick as I later heard I had passed the audition! I remember being fascinated as he demonstrated the electronic curtains with a remote control – he was like a kid with a new toy! There was also an en suite which, at the time, was quite a novelty. And there was a framed photo of Jane on the bedside table. We went to the top storey, where there was a music room. One wall was filled with LPs, and there was a piano and various guitars around. Paul talked about how he would spend many hours in this room playing and composing. He also played for me again.

“I knew that I had to go at a certain time as I had arranged for my father to pick me up at Lime Street. How I wish I had been assertive enough to ask Paul if I could use his phone. You see, he asked if I wanted to go with him to the studio in the evening (they were recording Sgt. Pepper). That is the biggest regret of my life. I also regret I didn’t bring a camera. I can’t believe it! Eventually, Paul changed his phone number and we lost touch.

“I don’t think of Paul as a genius or legend (which he is), I think of him as an ordinary, down-to-earth, decent Scouser (which he is) – just like his father (and his mother). He was brought up to be an honest, polite, friendly, thoughtful, hard-working guy, which is still as apparent today as it was back then. Thank you, Mr McCartney and Paul, for your generosity and kindness.”


Last updated on April 1, 2024

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