Recording and mixing "Rocky Raccoon"

Thursday, August 15, 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

The Beatles recorded Paul McCartney’s song “Rocky Raccoon” on this day and completed it (overdubs and mono mixing included) by the end of the session, which lasted from 7 pm to 3 am.

Paul sings this Country & Western one and he’s made the lyrics tell a complete story that starts simply to guitar accompaniment but spreads out later. It’s all about young Rocky from the hills of Dakota and how his girl Lily McGill runs off with a nasty piece of work named Danny. Complete with saloon gunfire! Vocally it’s particularly interesting because Paul’s singing changes all the time according to the mood of the story. Started and finished at a single all-night session.

Mal Evans – From the Beatles Monthly Book, N°64, November 1968

It was a difficult song to record, because it had to be all in one take. It would have been very hard to edit, because of the quirkiness of the vocal. But it was fun to do.

Paul McCartney – from “The Beatles” super deluxe book, 2018

Nine takes of the basic track were recorded. From take 1 to take 5, Paul McCartney was on vocals and acoustic guitar, John Lennon on bass guitar, Ringo Starr on drums, and George Martin on piano. George Harrison was in the control room during that time.

During take four, Paul sang that ‘the doctor rolled up his sleeves’ and ‘Rocky said, “Doc, let’s have none of your cock”.’. Soon after that, the performance came to a halt with Paul admitting, ‘Fuck knows where I am!’ He then picked out the riff of ‘Day Tripper’ on his acoustic guitar.

From “The Beatles” Super Deluxe edition book (2018)

It was then decided that the piano part would be later overdubbed, so from take 6 to take 9, George Martin was in the control room.

Take 8 was released on Anthology 3 in 1993, and also on the White Album’s 50th anniversary release in 2018.

Paul’s Rocky Raccoon was started and completed in a single eight-hour session – overdubs and all – the master being Take 10. Along the way the Beatles recorded a number of outtakes that underline both the fun nature of the song and the still changing lyric. This version is Take 8, which, while it may have started out as an attempt at recording the master, soon dissolves into levity.

From Anthology 3 liner notes

Comparing take 8 and take 9 (used for the version on the White Album) shows that the lyrics were partly improvised during the session. Take 8 starts with Paul McCartney declaring:

Rocky Raccoon…Rocky Raccoon, he was a fool unto himself. And he would not swallow his foolish pride. Mind you, coming from a little town in Minnesota, it was not the kind of thing that a young guy did when a fella went and stole his chick away from him.

Paul McCartney

Later in the song, the “doctor” verse was:

Now Rocky Raccoon got up from his room and he walked out those swing doors of the local saloon, straight into the arms of someone new, someone who he’d known from a long way back, maybe from a primary school day. A young friend of Rocky recognised. She said, ‘Honey, will you be my new honey bunch?’ She said, ‘Rocky boy, come on. I’ll show you why I love you. Young Rock Raccoon, I love the way you wear your hat, I love the way you hit your pants. Rocky Raccoon, I dig you.’ He said, ‘Mrs., I dig you too. Come with me.

Paul McCartney

Take 9 was transformed into take 10 after a reduction mix, and overdubs were added. George Martin played “a ‘tack-piano’ that was recorded at half-speed to create a Western movie honky-tonk effect when played back at normal speed” (From “The Beatles” Super Deluxe edition book – 2018). John added some accordion and Harmonica. John, Paul, and George Harrison added backing vocals.

Rocky Racoon” was then mixed in mono. Only one try was needed to make the mix released on the “White Album”. The stereo mix would be made on October 10.

Last updated on September 7, 2021

Songs recorded


1.

Rocky Raccoon

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording • Take 1


2.

Rocky Raccoon

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording • Take 2


3.

Rocky Raccoon

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording • Take 3


4.

Rocky Raccoon

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording • Take 4


5.

Rocky Raccoon

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording • Take 5


6.

Rocky Raccoon

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording • Take 6


7.

Rocky Raccoon

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording • Take 7


8.

Rocky Raccoon

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording • Take 8

Album Officially released on The Beatles (50th anniversary boxset)


9.

Rocky Raccoon

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording • Take 9


10.

Rocky Raccoon

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Tape copying • Tape reduction take 9 into take 10


11.

Rocky Raccoon

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording • SI onto take 10


12.

Rocky Raccoon

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Mixing • Mono mixing - Remix 1 from take 10


13.

Yer Blues

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Tape copying • Tape copying of remix mono 3


14.

Rocky Raccoon

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Tape copying • Tape copying of remix mono 1

Staff

Musicians on Rocky Raccoon

Paul McCartney:
Acoustic guitar, Vocals
Ringo Starr:
Drums
John Lennon:
Harmonica, Accordion, Six-string bass, Backing vocals
George Harrison:
Backing vocals
George Martin:
Piano

Production staff

George Martin:
Producer
Ken Scott:
Engineer
John Smith:
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/1968/08/15/recording-mixing-rocky-raccoon/

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