"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 Anthology 3 Official album.
- EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road
More from year 1968
Some songs from this session appear on:
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On this day, The Beatles continued working on George Harrison’s “Not Guilty“ and started working on Paul McCartney’s composition “Mother Nature’s Son“.
The Beatles had worked on “Not Guilty” during the past two days.
According to Mark Lewisohn in “The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions“, on August 8, they brought the number of takes to 101, with take 99 considered to be the best. And on this day (August 9), they made a reduction mix of take 99, named take 102 and started the overdubbing process.
But in “The Beatles” Super Deluxe edition book (2018), the details vary and take 102 was created on August 8:
[…] They kept going until take 97. There were several reduction mixes of this take in which drums and bass were combined on track one and harpsichord and guitar were mixed on track two. When a third attempt at a reduction mix took the number of takes to 100, Ken Scott made a point of marking this milestone by announcing the number with tape echo on his voice! The final reduction mix – called take 102 – was given overdubs the following night.
In terms of overdubs, they added “a second drum track, a second lead guitar and a second bass track” according to Mark Lewisohn. According to “The Beatles” Super Deluxe edition book (2018), “more drums and a lead guitar were overdubbed“.
About the guitar overdub played by George:
George asked us to put his guitar amplifier at one end of one of the echo chambers, with a microphone at the other end to pick up the output. He sat playing the guitar in the studio control room with a line plugged through to the chamber.Brian Gibson, studio engineer – The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions, Mark Lewisohn
A final overdub would be added by George on August 12, before “Not Guilty” was shelved.
The session was due to end at 10 pm. But Paul stayed while the rest of the band went home, and started the recording of “Mother Nature’s Son“.
Mountain streams, fields of grass, swaying daisies. A lazy song sung beneath the sun. In fact it was sung by Paul in the middle of the night beneath the artificial moonlight of EMI studio lamps! Almost folksy simplicity about this little number. It was done at a sort of after-session session when the rest of the fellows had gone home. Paul just sat in the box, sang and played his acoustic guitar. At three o’clock in the morning.Mal Evans – From the Beatles Monthly Book, N°64, November 1968
Paul played acoustic guitar and sang. Twenty-five takes were recorded. Take 2 was the first complete take and was released on “Anthology 3“.
Its lyrics inspired by the text of a lecture heard in Spring in India, the basic track of Mother’s Nature Son was recorded one summer’s evening in London a few months later. The White Album master was Take 26, a reduction of the “best” take (24) with overdubbed drums, timpani, brass and a second acoustic guitar passage, the brass players being the only musicians apart from Paul McCartney to play on the recording of his new song. En route to the master the composer taped a succession of strictly solo pieces, seeking out the right sound and feel – this Anthology selection is Take 2, the opening strand of conversation emphasising well the willingness, common to all Beatles, to seize upon a new sound or effect, whether discovered accidentally or otherwise.From the liner notes of “Anthology 3”
Take 25 was released on the White Album’s 50th anniversary re-release in 2018. In it, Paul experimented with different vocal inflections. At the end of the take, the following dialog between him and George Martin in the control room was recorded:
Paul: What’s been happening so far, Mr. Martin?
George: You’ve done one or two nice ones, um, you’ve done a lot of others where you’ve fucked up, you know.
Paul: Is there no one listening up there, by any slight chance?
George: Yeah, we’re listening all the time! (George realizing there is a communication problem). Sorry, I’m, I’m pushing the wrong button.
Paul: Oh. What’s happening?
George: I thought we’d run into…a couple of nice ones, um.
Paul: Have you remembered which is which?
George: When you think you’re absolutely a breakdown, then breakdown.
Paul: Right, yeah, ok.
George: It’s sometimes worth it.
Paul: Yeah right, ok.
At the end of take 25 (the last take recorded), Paul was unsure if he preferred take 24 or take 25 and declared:
I’ll listen to ’em both or I’ll listen to one. Somewhere in there, there’s something!Paul McCartney – From “The Beatles” Super Deluxe edition book (2018)
It was finally decided that take 24 was the best one. Overdubs would be added to it on August 20. The session ended at 2 am.
Last updated on September 19, 2021
Written by George Harrison
Tape copying • Tape reduction take 99 into take 102
Written by George Harrison
Recording • SI onto take 102
Recording • Take 1
Recording • Take 2
Album Officially released on Anthology 3
Recording • Take 3
Recording • Take 4
Recording • Take 5
Recording • Take 6
Recording • Take 7
Recording • Take 8
Recording • Take 9
Recording • Take 10
Recording • Take 11
Recording • Take 12
Recording • Take 13
Recording • Take 14
Recording • Take 15
Album Officially released on The Beatles (50th anniversary boxset)
Recording • Take 16
Recording • Take 17
Recording • Take 18
Recording • Take 19
Recording • Take 20
Recording • Take 21
Recording • Take 22
Recording • Take 23
Recording • Take 24
Recording • Take 25
Musicians on "Mother Nature's Son"
Musicians on "Not Guilty"
- George Martin:
- Ken Scott:
- John Smith:
- 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 Recording Reference Manual: Volume 4: The Beatles through Yellow Submarine (1968 - early 1969)
The fourth book of this critically acclaimed series, "The Beatles Recording Reference Manual: Volume 4: The Beatles through Yellow Submarine (1968 - early 1969)" captures The Beatles as they take the lessons of Sgt. Pepper forward with an ambitious double-album that is equally innovative and progressive. From the first take to the final remix, discover the making of the greatest recordings of all time. Through extensive, fully-documented research, these books fill an important gap left by all other Beatles books published to date and provide a unique view into the recordings of the world's most successful pop music act.
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.
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