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

Tuesday, July 9, 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.
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Three, Abbey Road

Master release


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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 on July 8.

On July 9, The Beatles came into the studio for a 4 to 9pm session. Ringo Starr didn’t join, hence when Paul McCartney explained he still wasn’t happy with the re-make and encouraged the others to start working on a re-re-make, he got behind the drums.

The remake [done on July 8] was, I had to admit, quite good. It had a bouncier feel to it than the original version, which seemed a bit leaden by comparison, and when it was completed we all breathed a sign of relief that we wouldn’t have to be working on the song anymore. […] Sadly, Paul returned to his nitpicking ways the very next afternoon, announcing peremptorily that he was still dissatisfied and wanted to remake the song yet again…despite the fact that Ringo wasn’t even there.

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

Just two takes of this re-re-make were done (take 20 and 21) before McCartney acknowledged that the basic track from the previous day was fine. So the band (including Ringo) returned to the July 8 recording for overdubs during the evening session (from 10pm to 3.30am).

During that session, the lead and backing vocals, recorded the previous, were replaced, handclaps were added. At some point, McCartney, Lennon and Harrison gathered around the microphone, to record what is heard on the finished version, including laughing, joking, ho-hos and hee-hees.

Interestingly, all the bad feelings of the past weeks seemed to evaporate as soon as they gathered around the mic and I fed tape echo into their headphones. That’s all it took for them to suspend their petty disagreements; for those few moments, they would clown around and act silly again, like they did when they were kids, just starting out. Then as soon as they’d take the cans off, they’d go back to hating each other. It was very odd – it was almost as if having the headphones on and hearing that echo put them in a dreamlike state.

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

In the final verse, McCartney made an error by singing, “Desmond stays at home and does his pretty face” (rather than Molly), and had Molly letting “the children lend a hand”. This mistake was retained because the other Beatles liked it. Harrison and Lennon yell “arm” and “leg” between the lines “Desmond lets the children lend a hand” and “Molly stays at home”.

Some final overdubs would be added on “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Daon July 11.


Towards the end of the session, The Beatles began working on a remake of “Revolution 1“. “Revolution 1” had been recorded in May and June, and had been considered to be issued as the next Beatles single. But Paul McCartney and George Harrison thought that this version was not upbeat enough for a single. So on this day, they started rehearsing a faster version. Proper recording work on “Revolution” would start the day after.

Last updated on September 4, 2021

Songs recorded


1.

Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording • Re-remake -Take 20


2.

Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording • Re-remake - Take 21


3.

Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording • Remake - SI onto take 13


4.

Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Tape copying • Remake - Tape reduction take 13 into take 22


5.

Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording • Remake - SI onto take 22


6.

Revolution

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording • Rehearsal

Staff

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

Paul McCartney:
Handclaps, Vocals
Ringo Starr:
Handclaps
John Lennon:
Handclaps, Backing vocals
George Harrison:
Handclaps, Backing vocals

Musicians on "Revolution"

Paul McCartney:
Bass guitar
Ringo Starr:
Drums
John Lennon:
Vocals, Electric guitar
George Harrison:
Electric guitar

Production staff

George Martin:
Producer
Geoff Emerick:
Engineer
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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