Recording and mixing "The Inner Light", recording and mixing "Across The Universe"

Thursday, February 8, 1968 • For The Beatles

Part of


February 1968 sessions

Feb 03-15, 1968 • Songs recorded during this session appear on Lady Madonna / The Inner Light (UK - 1968)

Album Songs recorded during this session officially appear on the Lady Madonna / The Inner Light (UK - 1968) 7" Single.
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Master release


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On this day, The Beatles worked on “The Inner Light” and “Across The Universe” in a session lasting from 2:30 pm to 9 pm.


The Inner Light” had been recorded in January 1968 (in Bombay with some Indian musicians) and on February 6 (George Harrison added his vocals).

On this day, it was decided that John Lennon and Paul McCartney would add a brief backing vocal overdub, towards the end of the song on the lyric “do all without doing”. George also double-tracked his vocals on the line “arrive without traveling“.

Once those final touches were added, the engineering team worked on the mono mix. They decided that one of the earlier takes recorded in Bombay sounded better for the instrumental first verse. An edit of this earlier take with Take 6 was then done, and three mono mixes were created, numbered 2 to 4. Mono mix number 4 became the released mono version of the upcoming single.

The Inner Light” would be mixed in stereo two years after, on January 27, 1970. This stereo mix would only be released in 1981!


By around 4:30 pm, The Beatles continued the work on John’s “Across The Universe” which had begun on February 4. The decision was taken to restart from Take 8, minus the last overdubs recorded on February 4 (the backward recordings of Paul’s bass and Ringo’s drums, and the “humming” sound effects).

We started overdubbing onto another track that Ken (Scott) had begun in my absence. “Across The Universe’ was probably the gentlest, sweetest John Lennon song I’d heard to date, and it took me very much by surprise. At around the time of Brian’s death, the four Beatles had been studying with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, and on this night it occurred to me that perhaps meditation had done John some good. The song represented a drastic change for him, and it was an eye-opener for me. It was true that in recent weeks the cutting, sarcastic John Lennon had been largely absent; we were seeing a softer side in him, a side I didn’t ever know existed. I knew that McCartney could be a rocker as well as a balladeer, but, up until this session, I’d pretty much just thought of Lennon as a basher. I really loved the song, and John’s gentle, lyrical vocal definitely connected with me.

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

John added a mellotron and George Martin recorded an organ part, but both contributions were discarded.

John then added a wah-wah guitar part, George played some maracas, Paul added some piano. John, Paul, and George also recorded some high harmonies in the choruses of the song. John also re-recorded his lead vocals.

We recorded that vocal over and over again because John was unhappy with the job he was doing, despite the fact that we, and the entire group, were effusive in our praise. It was a problematic vocal to do because of phrasing; there were just too many words to sing, so many points at which he had to take breaths. Because of that, John wasn’t satisfied that he’d gotten the feeling into the words that he was hoping for, and he was a bit upset about that. The song clearly meant a lot to him and he was frustrated because it hadn’t come out the way he’d heard it in his head.

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

Towards the end of the session, The Beatles needed to take a decision about the songs to appear on their next single. John was so dissatisfied by the end result of “Across The Universe” that he didn’t want it to be released at all. The single would then be “Lady Madonna” on Side A and “The Inner Light” on Side B.

But interestingly, there was a guest in the recording studio.

The legendary comedian and ex-Goon Spike Milligan (who was one of John’s idols) happened to be at the session that night as a guest of George Martin’s. He was so impressed with what he was hearing that he asked Lennon if the track, in its current state, could be used for to help raise funds for a charity he was involved in. A distracted, aggrieved John simply said, ‘Yeah, whatever,’ and that’s how ‘Across The Universe’ came to be released on a charity record for the World Wildlife Foundation.

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

Across The Universe” would be released in December 1969, on the “No One’s Gonna Change Our World” album. Some sound effects would be added during the mixing session on October 2, 1969. The two mono mixes done on this day have never been released.

Across The Universe” would also be reshaped by Phil Spector, for inclusion on the “Let It Be” album in 1970, still using the February 1968 recordings.


At some point during this session, The Beatles also took the opportunity to pose for some formal group pictures in the studio. These pictures were used as promotional material to accompany the release of “Lady Madonna”. One picture, in particular, being used by Capitol Records to create a pictures sleeve for “Lady Madonna”‘s release in the USA on March 18, 1968.

From the Beatles Monthly Book, N°57, April 1968

Last updated on September 30, 2021

Songs recorded


1.

The Inner Light

Written by George Harrison

Recording • SI onto take 6


2.

The Inner Light

Written by George Harrison

Mixing • Mono mixing - Remix 2 from take 6


3.

The Inner Light

Written by George Harrison

Mixing • Mono mixing - Remix 3 from take 6


4.

The Inner Light

Written by George Harrison

Mixing • Mono mixing - Remix 4 from take 6

Album Officially released on Lady Madonna / The Inner Light (UK - 1968)


5.

Across The Universe

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording • SI onto take 8


6.

Across The Universe

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Mixing • Mono mixing - Remix 1 from take 8


7.

Across The Universe

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Mixing • Mono mixing - Remix 2 from take 8

Staff

Musicians on "Across The Universe"

Paul McCartney:
Piano, Backing vocals
John Lennon:
Electric guitar, Backing vocals, Vocals
George Harrison:
Backing vocals, Maracas

Musicians on "The Inner Light"

Paul McCartney:
Backing vocals
John Lennon:
Backing vocals
George Harrison:
Vocals

Production staff

George Martin:
Producer
Geoff Emerick:
Engineer
Ken Scott:
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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