Recording "Blackbird", "Revolution 9"

Tuesday, June 11, 1968 • For The Beatles

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
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Three, Abbey Road

Master album


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About

From June 7 to June 18, 1968, George Harrison and Ringo Starr were both in the USA. The sessions for the White Album continued with John Lennon and Paul McCartney.

On this day, John Lennon continued working on sound effects to be used on “Revolution 9“. Meanwhile, Paul McCartney started and finished the recording of “Blackbird“. From Wikipedia:

The song was recorded on 11 June 1968 at EMI’s Abbey Road Studios in London, with George Martin as the producer and Geoff Emerick as the audio engineer. It is a solo performance with McCartney playing a Martin D 28 acoustic guitar. […]

Only three sounds were recorded: McCartney’s voice, his Martin D-28 acoustic guitar, and a tapping that keeps time on the left channel. This tapping “has been incorrectly identified as a metronome in the past”, according to engineer Geoff Emerick, who says it is actually the sound of Paul tapping his foot. McCartney also said the same in The Beatles’ Anthology documentary. Emerick recalls as being mic’d up separately. Footage included in the bonus content on disc two of the 2009 remaster of the album shows McCartney tapping both his feet alternately while performing the song.

At some point during the recording of “Blackbird“, John, Paul and George Martin were together. John joined Paul on acoustic guitar and also piano, and the three discussed the idea of adding an arrangement to the song:

You see, the only thing is that immediately I start to arrange it, I imagine a string quartet after the second verse.

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

There should be an arranged sound coming from a distance – a fairly complicated one like a bit of decoration that you’ve got on the back of a painting… it suddenly comes up and as it comes up close, you start again.

George Martin – from “The Beatles” super deluxe book, 2018

John Lennon then suggested that a “very nice bit of brass band” could be added, which Paul agreed saying that would be “lovely” and he then played a version of “Mother Nature’s Son“. But in the end, no embellishment was added.

In total, 32 takes of “Blackbird” were recorded, just 11 of which were complete. Take 32 was considered the best, and six mono mixes were made.

Anthology 3” includes take 23 (mislabelled as take 4), and “The Beatles” 2018 boxset includes take 28. From the Anthology 3 liner notes:

Recorded by Paul alone – as indeed was the White Album master version – this is Take 4 of Blackbird, an unadorned acoustic guitar and vocal performance that captured well the essence of his new song, and may even have been usable at the time were it not for unwanted background noises. The completed “best” recording of Blackbird was Take 32, with the verse/chorus order revised and a second acoustic guitar track and bird song effects added before the end of this session.

During the session, a film crew, directed by Tony Bramwell, was in the studio to film an Apple promotional film to be shown to executives at EMI and Capitol Records. Some rehearsals of Paul McCartney playing “Blackbird” were captured on film.

Last updated on June 3, 2021

Songs recorded


1.

Blackbird

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording • Take 1


2.

Blackbird

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording • Take 2


3.

Blackbird

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording • Take 3


4.

Blackbird

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording • Take 4


5.

Blackbird

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording • Take 5


6.

Blackbird

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording • Take 6


7.

Blackbird

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording • Take 7


8.

Blackbird

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording • Take 8


9.

Blackbird

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording • Take 9


10.

Blackbird

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording • Take 10


11.

Blackbird

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording • Take 11


12.

Blackbird

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording • Take 12


13.

Blackbird

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording • Take 13


14.

Blackbird

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording • Take 14


15.

Blackbird

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording • Take 15


16.

Blackbird

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording • Take 16


17.

Blackbird

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording • Take 17


18.

Blackbird

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording • Take 18


19.

Blackbird

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording • Take 19


20.

Blackbird

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording • Take 20


21.

Blackbird

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording • Take 21


22.

Blackbird

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording • Take 22


23.

Blackbird

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording • Take 23

Album Officially released on Anthology 3


24.

Blackbird

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording • Take 24


25.

Blackbird

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording • Take 25


26.

Blackbird

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording • Take 26


27.

Blackbird

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording • Take 27


28.

Blackbird

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording • Take 28

Album Officially released on The Beatles (2018)


29.

Blackbird

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording • Take 29


30.

Blackbird

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording • Take 30


31.

Blackbird

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording • Take 31


32.

Blackbird

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording • Take 32


33.

Blackbird

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Mixing • Mono mixing - Remix 1 from take 32


34.

Blackbird

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Mixing • Mono mixing - Remix 2 from take 32


35.

Blackbird

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Mixing • Mono mixing - Remix 3 from take 32


36.

Blackbird

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Mixing • Mono mixing - Remix 4 from take 32


37.

Blackbird

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Mixing • Mono mixing - Remix 5 from take 32


38.

Blackbird

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Mixing • Mono mixing - Remix 6 from take 32


39.

Revolution 9

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording • Unnumbered takes of sound effects

Staff

Musicians on Blackbird

Paul McCartney:
Foot taps, Acoustic guitar, Lead vocals, Backing vocals

Production staff

George Martin:
Producer
Geoff Emerick:
Engineer
Phil McDonald:
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/1968/06/11/recording-mixing-blackbird-revolution-9/

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