Recording "Golden Slumbers", "Carry That Weight", "The End", "Something", "Here Comes The Sun"

Friday, August 15, 1969 • For The Beatles

Part of


"Abbey Road" sessions

Feb 22 - Aug 25, 1969 • Songs recorded during this session appear on Abbey Road

Album Songs recorded during this session officially appear on the Abbey Road LP.
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio One, Abbey Road

Some songs from this session appear on:


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About

On this day, orchestral overdubs were added to “Golden Slumbers / Carry That Weight“, “The End“, “Something” and “Here Comes The Sun“.

It was a mammoth session. We had a large number of lines linking the studios and we were all walking around the building with walkie-talkies trying to communicate with each other…It cost a lot of money: all the musicians have to be paid, fed and watered; I screw every pound note out of it whenever I play the record!

Alan Brown, engineer ​ – From “The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions” by Mark Lewisohn

George Martin wrote some arrangements and booked London’s top players for a single marathon session. Unfortunately, EMI had still not installed an eight-track tape recorder or large-scale console into the Studio One control room, so we were forced to set up a complicated system of audio tie-lines and closed-circuit television that allowed the musicians to be seated in the larger Studio One while we recorded them in the control room of Studio Two.

The day was broken up into two parts: an afternoon session, overdubbing parts onto the “Golden Slumbers” / “Carry That Weight” and “The End” sections of the medley; and an evening session, when we’d be adding orchestra to George Harrison’s “Here Comes The Sun” and “Something.” Following the pattern that had been established for much of the album, the only Beatle at the afternoon session was Paul, and the only one at the evening session was George Harrison. Phil McDonald, however, was there with me for the entire day — working in two studios at once really complicated things, and we needed the extra pair of hands. George Martin did the conducting while each Beatle essentially produced his own session. Thankfully, there were no major technical mishaps and everything worked smoothly.

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

The orchestra overdubs for “Golden Slumbers / Carry That Weight“, “The End” were recorded for three hours, from 2:30 pm to 5:30 pm. The same instruments and players – 21 strings players and nine brass instruments – were used for the three songs.

The mono recording of the string and brass instruments was released on the “Abbey Road (50th anniversary boxset)” in 2019.

[Paul] laid the strings on after we had finished most of the basic tracks. I personally can’t be bothered with strings and things. I like to do it with the group, or electronics, you know. I can’t be bothered with the hassles of the musicians and all that bit, you know. It’s such a drag trying to get them together, but Paul digs that. So, that’s his scene, and it was up to him where he went with the violins, really, and what he did with them. I think he just wanted a straight kind of backing, you know, nothing freaky.

John Lennon – 1969 interview – Quoted in beatlesebooks.com

George’s session was longer than Paul’s, lasting from 7 pm to 1:15 am.

For “Something“, a 21-piece string section was recorded in stereo across tracks three and four. According to Geoff Emerick, George re-did his guitar solo live, but it is believed his solo was recorded on May 5, 1969.

The only hitch came when George Harrison announced that he wanted to redo the guitar solo on “Something.” We were perfectly willing to accommodate him, but the problem was that there was only one track available, and we needed to use that for the orchestra. The only solution was for him to play it live, right along with the orchestra, so we could record them simultaneously on the same track. I was enormously impressed when he nonchalantly said, “Okay, let’s do that”—it took a lot of nerve and self-confidence to be willing to put himself under that kind of pressure. George had to play the solo correctly all the way through, without punch-ins, because the sound coming from his guitar amp would leak onto the other mics, and he wouldn’t get a lot of whacks at it, because it was costing quite a lot to have that orchestra there. But he managed to play the intricate solo with ease, and by the end of the long night both his songs were completed and ready to be mixed.

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

The string section for “Something” was isolated and released on the “Abbey Road (50th anniversary boxset)” in 2019.

For “Here Comes The Sun“, eight woodwind players recorded their parts on track four of the tape, while a nine-piece string section was recorded onto track five, thus erasing George’s harmonium overdub from July 16.

From THE BEATLES ‘Abbey Road’ recording sessions, 40th Anniversary in Pictures | Page 10 | Steve Hoffman Music Forums – George Martin, George Harrison and the orchestra

Last updated on December 28, 2021

Songs recorded


1.

Golden Slumbers

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording • SI onto take 17

Album Officially released on Abbey Road (50th anniversary boxset)


2.

Carry That Weight

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording • SI onto take 17

Album Officially released on Abbey Road (50th anniversary boxset)


3.

The End

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording • SI onto take 7


4.

Something

Written by George Harrison

Recording • SI onto take 39

Album Officially released on Abbey Road (50th anniversary boxset)


5.

Here Comes The Sun

Written by George Harrison

Recording • SI onto take 15

Staff

Musicians on "Carry That Weight"

?:
One bass trombone, Twelve violins, Four cellos, One double-bass, Four horns, One trombone, Four violas, Three trumpets

Musicians on "Something"

?:
Four violas, Twelve violins, Four cellos, One double-bass

Musicians on "The End"

?:
Four horns, One trombone, Twelve violins, Four cellos, One double-bass, Three trumpets, One bass trombone, Four violas

Musicians on "Here Comes The Sun"

?:
Two alto flutes, Four violas, Two piccolos, Two clarinets, Four cellos, One double-bass, Two flutes

Musicians on "Golden Slumbers"

?:
One bass trombone, Four cellos, One double-bass, Four horns, One trombone, Twelve violins, Four violas, Three trumpets

Production staff

George Martin:
Producer
Geoff Emerick:
Engineer
Phil McDonald:
Engineer
Alan Parsons:
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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