- Album Songs recorded during this session officially appear on the The Beatles (Mono) LP.
- EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road
- EMI Studios, Studio One, Abbey Road
More from year 1968
Some songs from this session appear on:
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On this day, The Beatles started working on the George Harrison-penned “Piggies“. The session lasted from 7:15 pm to 5:30 am. As George Martin was on holiday for most of September 1968, Chris Thomas produced this session.
The Beatles recorded 10 takes of the basic track, with George Harrison on acoustic guitar and guide vocal, Paul McCartney on bass, Ringo Starr on tambourine (John Lennon stayed away). “I’ll just be singing to guide you,” George instructed the others, his intentions being to record his vocals later as an overdub.
Chris Thomas then had the idea to use a harpsichord on the basic track:
All four Beatles were there for the session and we were working in [studio] number two. I wandered into number one and found a harpsichord, not knowing that it had been set up overnight for a classical recording. So we discussed wheeling the thing into number two but Ken Scott said ‘No, we can’t, it’s there for another session!’. So we moved our session into number one instead.
George Harrison agreed that my harpsichord idea was a good one and suggested that I play it. This I did, but while George and I were tinkling away on this harpsichord he started playing another new song to me, which later turned out to be ‘Something’. I said ‘That’s great! Why don’t we do that one instead?’ and he replied ‘Do you like it, do you really think it’s good?’. When I said yes he said ‘Oh, maybe I’ll give it to Jackie Lomax then, he can do it as a single!’Chris Thomas – From “The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions” by Mark Lewisohn
‘Something’ was written on the piano while we were making The White Album. I had a break while Paul was doing some overdubbing so I went into an empty studio and began to write. That’s really all there is to it, except the middle took some time to sort out.George Harrison – from “Solid State” by Kenneth Womack
As explained in “The Beatles” Super Deluxe edition book (2018), the harpsichord in Studio One had been brought in for a classical session scheduled on the following day – September 20. During that session, British cellist Jacqueline Du Pré would be recording with the London Symphony Orchestra, and the harpsichord would be played by Australian virtuoso Valda Aveling.
The Beatles then moved to Studio One, to record take 11 – the last take of the day – with Chris Thomas playing the harpsichord. Overdubs onto take 11 would be added the day after.
There were a couple of other songs around at this time. Paul was running through “Let It Be” between takesChris Thomas – From “The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions” by Mark Lewisohn
Around that time, and maybe also on this day (or night), Paul recorded a demo of “The Long And Winding Road“, according to technical engineer Alan Brown, as mentioned in “The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions” by Mark Lewisohn. This story is also mentioned in the book “Hello Goodbye: The Story Of Mr. Fixit” by George Gunby:
The finest example of Paul’s songwriting turned out just as Alistair [Taylor] had hoped. It was the end of a particularly difficult week at [EMI Studios] and Apple during which he had been working twenty-hour days. He was feeling the effects of being, virtually, Paul’s personal assistant and keeping an eye on things at the office. He was very, very tired and looking forward to spending Saturday and Sunday at home with [his wife] Lesley. As the Friday night session wound down he went in search of Paul to say goodnight. John, George and Ringo had no idea where McCartney was and when he could not be found in the canteen or any of the offices Alistair pretty much gave up.
As he passed the cavernous Studio One he noticed a faint light. Stepping quietly inside, he stood in the shadows and listened as the figure hunched over the grand piano picked out a melody and began adding lyrics. The voice was unmistakably McCartney’s. Alistair listened intently as the tune developed. More lyrics were added. “This is sensational”, Alistair thought. Spellbound, he walked over to the piano when Paul stopped playing. “That is a beautiful, beautiful melody and fabulous words”, he said. “Lesley would love that”. Paul smiled. “It’s just an idea at this stage”, he said. “For ‘just an idea’ it’s sensational”.
Paul looked up to the control room. “Have you got any tape left?” he asked the engineer who nodded. “Roll it, please”, McCartney said. Alistair stood by the piano as Paul ran through the song again. Although not the finished article, the fundamental outline and character were clear and distinct. It was, Alistair felt, destined to be a classic. When the song ended he applauded quietly. Paul looked up from the keyboard. “Glad you like it”, he said. “Now go home. You look shattered”.
Monday morning came round far too quickly for Alistair. He was in the office early and had cleared most things by the time Paul appeared in mid afternoon. He sat down and asked how Lesley was. “Fine”,’Alistair replied. “Did you tell her about the song?” “No. I couldn’t do it justice”. “Well you can now”, McCartney said with a broad grin. From inside his coat he pulled out an acetate record and placed it on the desk in front of Alistair. “That’s the recording from Friday…It’s for Lesley”. “You shouldn’t have. Thank you very much”. “Give me your waste bin and a pair of scissors”, Paul said. As Alistair handed them to him, McCartney pulled a spool of recording tape from his pocket. “That’s the tape from Friday”, he said as he picked up the scissors and proceeded to cut it into small pieces that fell into the waste bin.
“Now you have the only copy of that recording in the world”, he said with a broad smile. “Thank you very much”, Alistair said. “It’s my way of saying thank you”, Paul said as he stood to leave the office. “Just one thing, what’s it called?” “The Long And Winding Road”, McCartney replied.From “Hello Goodbye: The Story Of Mr. Fixit” by George Gunby
Last updated on January 1, 2022
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 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.