Recording "Martha My Dear", "Honey Pie"

Friday, October 4, 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:
Trident Studios, London, UK

Master album


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About

The Beatles spent this entire week of recording at Trident Studios. On October 1 and October 2, they worked on Paul McCartney’s “Honey Pie“. On October 3, they worked on George Harrison’s “Savoy Truffle“. And on this day, October 4, they worked on Paul McCartney’s “Martha My Dear” and resumed work on “Honey Pie“.

The session lasted from 4 pm to 4:30 am. They started working on the basic track of “Martha My Dear“, with Paul McCartney on piano and lead vocals, George Harrison on electric guitar and Ringo Starr on drums. John Lennon was absent from this session. By 6 pm, a basic track – named Take 1 – was recorded.

Solo vocal by Paul but his voice is double-tracked. That means you hear him twice over although the blending of his two vocal “takes” has been done so well it’s almost like hearing just one voice. NOT dedicated to Paul’s Good Dog Martha! A lovely ballad with rich orchestral backing. Theme is You Were Meant For Me. Incidentally Ringo bashed a hole in his brand new bass drum skin the night we started this track.

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

From 6 pm to 9 pm, The Beatles were joined by seven studio musicians to record the brass and woodwind arrangement for “Honey Pie” that George Martin had prepared.

At 9 pm, those musicians left and were replaced by fourteen other session musicians for the recording of a brass and strings arrangement for “Martha My Dear“. This was quite unusual for The Beatles to record the basic track of a song and invite external musicians to complement it during the same session (and this suggests George Martin was given a demo of some sort prior to this session to write the score recorded on this day)!


From midnight to 4:30 am, Paul McCartney re-recorded his lead vocal track for “Martha My Dear” and added handclaps. He then double-tracked both the vocals and the handclaps.

Finally, he returned to “Honey Pie” to record the line “now she’s hit the big time!“. As mentioned in “The Beatles” Super Deluxe edition book (2018):

“Now she’s hit the big time” was distorted as a ’78 vocal’ on track seven. It was an aural reference to the scratchy sound of discs played at the speed of 78 revolutions per minute from the era that “Honey Pie” evoked.

We put a sound on my voice to make it sound like a scratchy old record. So it’s not a parody, it’s a nod to the vaudeville tradition that I was raised on.

Paul McCartney – from “Many Years From Now” by Barry Miles

Work on “Martha My Dear” and “Honey Pie” continued on the next day.

Paul McCartney and George Harrison working on Honey Pie for the White Album, 1968.
From Facebook – 4 October 1968 – Photo by Linda McCartney / Linda Enterprises Ltd. © Paul McCartney (https://www.lindamccartney.com/)
From Facebook – 4 October 1968 – Photo by Linda McCartney / Linda Enterprises Ltd. © Paul McCartney (https://www.lindamccartney.com/)
From Facebook – 4 October 1968 – Photo by Linda McCartney / Linda Enterprises Ltd. © Paul McCartney (https://www.lindamccartney.com/)

Last updated on September 19, 2021

Songs recorded


1.

Martha My Dear

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording • Take 1


2.

Honey Pie

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording • SI onto take 1


3.

Martha My Dear

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording • SI onto take 1

Staff

Musicians on Martha My Dear

Paul McCartney:
lead vocals, piano, handclaps
Ringo Starr:
drums
George Harrison:
electric guitar
Tony Tunstall:
French horn
Leo Birnbaum:
Viola
Leon Calvert:
Flugelhorn, Trumpet
Reginald Kilbey:
Cello
Bernard Miller:
Violin
Dennis McConnell:
Violin
Lou Sofier:
Violin
Les Maddox:
Violin
Henry Myerscough:
Viola
Frederick Alexander:
Cello
Stanley Reynolds:
Trumpet
Ronnie Hughes:
Trumpet
Ted Barker:
Trombone
Alf Reece:
Tuba

Musicians on Honey Pie

Paul McCartney:
Vocal
Dennis Walton:
Saxophone
Rex Morris:
Saxophone
Ronald Chamberlain:
Saxophone
Jim Chester:
Saxophone
Harry Klein:
Saxophone
Raymond Newman:
Clarinet
David Smith:
Clarinet

Production staff

George Martin:
Producer
Barry Sheffield:
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/1968/10/04/recording-martha-my-dear-honey-pie/

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