Recording "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da"

Monday, July 8, 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 Two, Abbey Road

Master album


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About

After three consecutive days spent on recording “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da“, Paul McCartney decided to restart from scratch, which angered John Lennon as explained by engineer Geoff Emerick:

Throughout the preceding weeks I had noticed that John’s behavior was becoming increasingly erratic – his mood swings were more severe, and they were occurring more frequently. That was definitely the case with the recording of (this song). One moment he’d be into it, acting the fool and doing his fake Jamaican patois, the next minute he’d be sulking and grumbling about how the song was more of Paul’s ‘granny music sh*t.’ You never knew exactly where you stood with Lennon at any given time, but things were definitely getting worse.

[When McCartney explained he wanted to do a remake] John went ballistic. Ranting and raving, he headed out the door, with Yoko trailing closely behind, and we thought that we’d seen the last of him that evening. But a few hours later he stormed back into the studio, clearly in a highly altered state of mind.

‘I AM F*CKING STONED!!’ John Lennon bellowed from the top of the stairs. He had chosen to make his entrance through the upstairs door, presumably so that he could quickly gain the attention of the three startled Beatles below. Swaying slightly, he continued, waving his arms for emphasis. ‘I am more stoned than you have ever been. In fact, I am more stoned than you will ever be!’…’And this,’ Lennon added with a snarl, ‘is how the f*cking song should go.’ Unsteadily, he lurched down the stairs and over to the piano and began smashing the keys with all his might, pounding out the famous opening chords that became the song’s introduction, played at a breakneck tempo. A very upset Paul got right in Lennon’s face. For a moment I thought fists might fly.

‘Okay, then, John,’ he said in short, clipped words, staring his deranged bandmate straight in the eye. ‘Let’s do it your way.’ As angry as he was, I think that deep down inside Paul was flattered that his longtime collaborator had given the song any thought at all…even though he had obviously done so while getting out of his skull.

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

Paul McCartney had a different recollection of the event though:

I remember being in the studio with George and Ringo, struggling with an acoustic version of the song. John was late for the session but when he arrived he bounced in, apologizing, in a very good mood. He sat down at the piano and instantly played the blue-beat-style intro. We were very pleased with his fresh attitude. It turned us on and turned the whole song around. He and I worked hard on the vocals and I remember the two of us in the studio having a whale of a time.

Paul McCartney – from “Many Years From Now” by Barry Miles, 1997

During this session, the Beatles recorded 12 takes of the backing track, with Paul McCartney on bass, John Lennon on piano, George Harrison on acoustic guitar, and Ringo Starr on drums. Each instrument was recorded on a separate track, and a reduction mix, numbered take 13 was made to put all instruments on one track.

Overdubs on some lead and backing vocals, as well as maracas and bongos, were then added.

At the end of the night (the session lasted from 5 pm to 3 am), a rough mono mix was made. Paul McCartney brought it home. On the following day, they would begin working on another remake. But ultimately they would come back to the take 13 recorded on this day.

Looking back now it was great to be involved with The Beatles but there was a negative side. They spent so much time doing each song that I can remember sitting in the control room before a session dying to hear them start a new one. They must have done ‘Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da’ five nights running and it’s not exactly the most melodic piece of music. They’d do it one night and you’d think ‘that’s it.’ But then they’d come in the next day and do it again in a different key or with a different feel. Poor Ringo would be playing from about three in the afternoon until one in the morning, with few breaks in between, and then have to do it all over again the next night.

Richard Lush

Last updated on September 4, 2021

Songs recorded


1.

Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording • Remake - Take 1


2.

Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording • Remake - Take 2


3.

Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording • Remake - Take 3


4.

Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording • Remake - Take 4


5.

Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording • Remake - Take 5


6.

Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording • Remake - Take 6


7.

Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording • Remake - Take 7


8.

Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording • Remake - Take 8


9.

Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording • Remake - Take 9


10.

Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording • Remake - Take 10


11.

Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording • Remake - Take 11


12.

Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording • Remake - Take 12


13.

Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Tape copying • Tape reduction take 12 into take 13


14.

Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording • SI onto take 13


15.

Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Mixing • Mono mixing - Unnumbered rough remix from take 13

Staff

Musicians on Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da

Paul McCartney:
Vocals, Bass
Ringo Starr:
Maracas, Bongos, Drums
John Lennon:
Piano, Backing vocals
George Harrison:
Backing vocals, Acoustic guitar

Production staff

George Martin:
Producer
Geoff Emerick:
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/1968/07/08/recording-ob-la-di-ob-la-da-4/

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