- Album Songs recorded during this session officially appear on the Abbey Road LP.
- EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road
- EMI Studios, Studio Three, Abbey Road
More from year 1969
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On August 1, 1969, The Beatles had recorded the basic track of John Lennon’s “Because” and one track of three-part harmonies.
On this day, in a 2:30 pm to 9 pm session, they added two other tracks of three-part harmonies (on tracks seven and eight), to give a total of nine voices on the tape.
Having done the backing track, John, Paul and George sang the harmony. Then we overlaid it twice more, making nine-part harmony altogether, three voices recorded three times. I was literally telling them what notes to sing.George Martin – From “The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions” by Mark Lewisohn
The three boys sang together in harmony, the whole song. And then we overlaid another three voices, and another three voices, so we had nine-part harmony all the way through. And that was Because.George Martin – Interview with Richard Buskin, 3 March 1987
It was an amazing recording, and probably the first bit of real camaraderie between the boys. I think they liked putting down their instruments and just singing together for a change. John, Paul and George sat in a semi-circle to do the harmonies and Ringo sat off to the side to lend moral support.Geoff Emerick – From MusicRadar, 2014 interview
The following Monday everyone returned to the studio fresh and rejuvenated from a weekend off, ready to tackle the vocals. The only problem was that George Martin had worked out nine harmony parts for the Beatles to sing, but we only had five tracks to record them on. That was resolved easily enough when it was decided to have John, Paul, and George Harrison sing their three-part harmony together live, instead of overdubbing each part one at a time, and then have them do two additional passes in order to add on the remaining six parts. It was as much an aesthetic as it was a technical decision, because their voices had always meshed so well naturally.
It was mid-afternoon, but the lights in Studio Two were dimmed way down low for atmosphere. The four Beatles — Ringo was there, too, providing moral support — were gathered in a semicircle, the sparse backing track playing softly in their headphones. To start with, everyone was standing up, but it quickly became apparent that this was going to be a time-consuming process, so they were soon sitting, on regulation EMI hard-back chairs, not stools. To get the phrasing spot-on, Paul was making hand gestures, conducting the others. It would take more than five hours to get those vocals done, and though John’s patience was sorely tried that afternoon, no one gave up. Perfection was the goal, and nobody was prepared to accept anything less.Geoff Emerick – From “Here, There and Everywhere: My Life Recording the Music of The Beatles“, 2006
The three Beatles sang “Because” over and over and over again that afternoon; they probably did each pass twenty or thirty times. Pitching was not a problem — they rarely sang out of tune, and they were good at remembering their parts — but it wasn’t easy to get the phrasing precise, starting and ending each word at exactly the same time. Even John was unusually patient that day, though he rebuked Paul once or twice, at one point snapping, “Jesus Christ, give me a break already . . . I wish I hadn’t written the bloody thing!”
But John kept at it, as did George Harrison, who, to my surprise, never uttered a word of complaint. They knew they were doing something special and they were determined to get it right. There was no clowning around that day, no joking; everyone was very serious, very focused. Their goal was to be able to sing each pass all the way through from start to finish — it was almost a matter of pride — but everyone was starting to get so weary, we ended up having to do a few drop-ins. Actually, we couldn’t do too many even if we wanted to, because the breaths between phrases would make any drop-ins apparent. That day I saw the four Beatles at their finest: there was one hundred percent concentration from all of them — even Ringo, sitting quietly with his eyes closed, silently urging his bandmates on to their best performance — all working in tandem to get that vocal nailed, spot on. It was a stark example of the kind of teamwork that had been so sorely lacking for years. It’s tempting to imagine what the Beatles might have been able to accomplish if they could only have captured and sustained that spirit just a little longer.Geoff Emerick – From “Here, There and Everywhere: My Life Recording the Music of The Beatles“, 2006
The vocal overdubs were completed as of 7:15 pm. “Because” would receive additional overdubs on the next day, August 5, 1969.
From 7:15 pm to 8:45 pm, George Harrison oversaw the creation of rough stereo mixes of his two songs to appear on “Abbey Road” – “Something” and “Here Comes The Sun“. George Martin was given an acetate of the “Something” mix to arrange an orchestral score.
Last updated on December 30, 2021
Musicians on "Because"
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!
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.