Recording "Don't Pass Me By", "Good Night"

Monday, July 22, 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 One, Abbey Road

Master album


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On this day, The Beatles were in Studio One, at Abbey Road, to record some orchestral work for Ringo Starr’s “Don’t Pass Me By” and John Lennon’s “Good Night“. The session lasted from 7 pm to 1:40 am.


Don’t Pass Me By” had been recorded early June, and George Martin had written an orchestral score to serve as an introduction to the song. Four takes of it were recorded on this day, by a 26-piece orchestra, but would never be used. It was given the name “A Beginning” when released for the first time on the “Anthology 3” album in 1996. It was also released on the White Album’s 50th anniversary release in 2018, where it was labeled as take 4.

Designed as an introduction to Ringo’s composition Don’t Pass Me By, this George Martin orchestral arrangement – soaring flutes, harps, violins, violas, cellos, clarinets, bass and other instruments – has remained unissued until now. This piece was recorded during the session that fashioned the orchestral overdub for Good Night, the closing track on The Beatles (better known as the White Album), and utilised the same musicians.

From the “Anthology 3” liner notes

To replace this score, a piano introduction played by Paul McCartney was used instead. According to “The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions” by Mark Lewisohn, this piano introduction was also recorded on this day:

This day’s other recording was of a tinkling piano introduction to “Don’t Pass Me By”. Four such edit pieces were recorded, the best being the fourth. But at 45 seconds it was to be substantially edited down (to just eight seconds) on 11 October when it was joined to the remainder of the song and given new mono and stereo mixes.

From “The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions” by Mark Lewisohn

But Mark Lewisohn doesn’t mention the orchestral score “A Beginning” for this session, and “The Beatles” Super Deluxe edition book (2018) doesn’t make mention of the piano introduction being recorded on this day.

We wonder whether the “Don’t Pass Me By (edit piece takes 1-4)” mentioned by Mark Lewisohn are related to the piano introduction (as indicated) or to “A Beginning“. If the latter, it might mean that the piano introduction had been recorded during another session.

Don’t Pass Me By” would be mixed in mono and stereo on October 11.


The Beatles had recorded a first version of “Good Nighton June 28 and July 2. But this version with a multi-guitar arrangement had been rejected in favor of an orchestral arrangement score by George Martin, to be recorded on this day.

John and Paul wrote this sad, wistful song for Ringo to sing. Mind you the words aren’t all that sad – just a very straightforward “goodnight, sleep tight” theme to them. 30-piece orchestra was brought in for the backing. Including even a harp! Also an eight-voice choir of four boys and four girls.

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

Before the orchestra recording, Ringo rehearsed with George Martin playing piano and George Harrison playing shaker to keep time. John was listening in the control room. Seven takes – numbered from 16 to 22 – were recorded, but only part of take 21 and the complete take 22 survived on tape (Take 22 was released on the White Album’s 50th anniversary re-release in 2018)

During the rehearsal run-throughs, John and Yoko stayed up in the control room while the other three Beatles remained down in the studio with George Martin, who played piano while Paul and George Harrison coached their drummer on phrasing and pitching. That created a unity that had rarely been present in these sessions. Just getting Yoko out of the studio seemed to lighten the atmosphere tremendously.

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

The same musicians who recorded “A Beginning” performed the score for “Good Night“, with Ringo singing his vocal part live, as evidenced by George Martin asking “Was Ringo in time with the orchestra?” after take 23. They recorded 12 takes – numbered from 23 to 34. Take 34 was marked “best”. This part of the session ended at 10 pm.

The musicians then left Studio One and were replaced by the Mike Sammes Singers – a choir of “4 girls, 4 boys” according to the EMI sheet. Four of those singers had already worked with The Beatles, on “I Am The Walrus” in 1967. Here as well, the recording was pretty efficient and was completed by 11:50 pm.

Ringo then re-recorded his lead vocals from 11:50 pm to 1:40 am.

This was clearly a lot of fun too, for outtakes kept for posterity on the “Beatles Chat” tape depict Ringo in fits of laughter between takes and telling jokes aplenty, and it also contains a few seconds of Ringo chatting with George Martin and Ken Scott.

From “The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions” by Mark Lewisohn

The next day, six attempts at a mono mix were made, but the final mixes would be made on October 11.

Last updated on September 12, 2021

Songs recorded


1.

A Beginning

Written by George Martin

Recording • Take 1


2.

A Beginning

Written by George Martin

Recording • Take 2


3.

A Beginning

Written by George Martin

Recording • Take 3


4.

A Beginning

Written by George Martin

Recording • Take 4

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


5.

Don't Pass Me By

Written by Ringo Starr

Recording • Edit piece - Take 1 (Does it refer to the piano introduction or the recording of "A Beginning"?)


6.

Don't Pass Me By

Written by Ringo Starr

Recording • Edit piece - Take 2 (Does it refer to the piano introduction or the recording of "A Beginning"?)


7.

Don't Pass Me By

Written by Ringo Starr

Recording • Edit piece - Take 3 (Does it refer to the piano introduction or the recording of "A Beginning"?)


8.

Don't Pass Me By

Written by Ringo Starr

Recording • Edit piece - Take 4 (Does it refer to the piano introduction or the recording of "A Beginning"?)


9.

Good Night

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording • Take 16


10.

Good Night

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording • Take 17


11.

Good Night

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording • Take 18


12.

Good Night

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording • Take 19


13.

Good Night

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording • Take 20


14.

Good Night

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording • Take 21


15.

Good Night

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording • Take 22


16.

Good Night

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording • Take 23


17.

Good Night

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording • Take 24


18.

Good Night

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording • Take 25


19.

Good Night

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording • Take 26


20.

Good Night

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording • Take 27


21.

Good Night

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording • Take 28


22.

Good Night

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording • Take 29


23.

Good Night

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording • Take 30


24.

Good Night

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording • Take 31


25.

Good Night

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording • Take 32


26.

Good Night

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording • Take 33


27.

Good Night

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording • Take 34


28.

Good Night

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording • SI onto take 34

Staff

Musicians on Good Night

Pat Whitmore:
Backing vocals
Irene King:
Backing vocals
Fred Lucas:
Backing vocals
Mike Redway:
Backing vocals
Ingrid Thomas:
Backing vocals
Val Stockwell:
Backing vocals
Ross Gilmour:
Backing vocals
Ken Barrie:
Backing vocals
?:
harp, French horn, double bass, clarinet, vibraphone, twelve violins, three violas, three flutes, three cellos
The Mike Sammes Singers:
Backing vocals

Musicians on A Beginning

?:
twelve violins, three violas, three flutes, three cellos, harp, French horn, double bass, clarinet, vibraphone

Production staff

George Martin:
Producer
Ken Scott:
Engineer
Richard Lush:
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/1968/07/22/recording-a-beginning-good-night/

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