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

Friday, July 5, 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.
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Master release

Some songs from this session appear on:

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On this day, The Beatles continued the work done on version 1 of “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da” in the past two days. Several overdubs were added by guest players brought in at the request of Paul McCartney. Three saxophones were added, as well as a set of bongos played by Nigeria conga player Jimmy Scott.

Jimmy Scott was an acquaintance of Paul McCartney. The line “Ob-la-di, ob-la-da, life goes on, brah” was an expression he used. From Wikipedia:

Following the release of “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da” in November 1968, Scott tried to claim a writer’s credit for the use of his catchphrase. McCartney said that the phrase was “just an expression”, whereas Scott argued that it was not a common expression and was used exclusively by the Scott-Emuakpor family. McCartney was angry that the British press sided with Scott over the issue. According to researchers Doug Sulpy and Ray Schweighardt, in their study of the tapes from the Beatles’ filmed rehearsals at Twickenham Film Studios in January 1969, McCartney complained bitterly to his bandmates about Scott’s claim that he “stole” the phrase. Later in 1969, while in Brixton Prison awaiting trial for failing to pay maintenance to his ex-wife, Scott sent a request to the Beatles asking them to pay his legal bills. McCartney agreed to pay the amount on the condition that Scott abandon his attempt to receive a co-writer’s credit.

Later in the evening, a piccolo was recorded (the player is unknown), but finally not used. McCartney then added a bass line played on an acoustic guitar.

One trick of ours was to over-record an acoustic guitar, so you’d swing the needle into the red and it’d be there, hard, every time you’d played it. The acoustic would come back like an electric. It wouldn’t distort too much, it would just mess around with that original sound. It’s make it hot.

Paul McCartney – From “The Beatles” super deluxe book, 2018

You can defeat the machine. For example, one trick of ours – ‘Ob-La-Di’ is one of the songs I did this on – was to over-record an acoustic guitar, so you’d swing the needle into the red and it’d be there, hard, every time you’d played it. The engineer would say ‘No, no, no this is not allowed, we have to keep it just before the red or a little into the red!’ and we’d be firm and say ‘No.’ And the acoustic would come back like an electric, it wouldn’t distort too much, it would just mess around with that original sound. It’d make it hot. You’d defeated the machine, you’d actually screwed it up a bit. They’re harder than ever to defeat now. They’ve thought of all that. If you’re going to work in the red now there’s a little computer that comes in and says ‘Limit!,’ stops it and brings it back. They’re all so clever these days and you can’t actually screw up.

Paul McCartney – Unknown source – From

According to Geoff Emerick, the mood in the studio started to get tense on this day.

It started going on and on, dragging out over three nights. Paul wasn’t happy with the rhythm of the track or with the way his vocal lay. He was after a Jamaican reggae feel and he wasn’t satisfied that the band had nailed it. The problem was exacerbated by the fact that even Paul didn’t quite know how to lock it in rhythmically, and so he was getting pretty frustrated with himself. Paul was something of a perfectionist by this point, but he also had to think that perhaps that had something to do with why he was so fussy about the recording of the song – maybe he did that just to annoy John, just to teach him a lesson.

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

On the recording sheet for this day was also this mention “Rough remix given to Paul McCartney“. Paul would listen to the recording over the weekend and decide to do a remake of the song when he came back to the studio on July 8.

This Version 1, take 5, of “Ob-la-di, ob-la-da“, would surface on the Anthology 3 album released in 1996.

Last updated on August 4, 2021

Songs recorded


Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording • SI onto take 5

Album Officially released on Anthology 3


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

Paul McCartney:
Bass part on distorted acoustic guitar
Rex Morris:
James Gray:
Jimmy Scott:
Conga drum
Cyril Reuben:

Production staff

George Martin:
Geoff Emerick:
Richard Lush:
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

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.

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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