Recording "Piggies"

Thursday, September 19, 1968 • For The Beatles

Part of


"The Beatles" (aka the White Album) sessions

May 30 - Oct 15, 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
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio One, Abbey Road

Master album


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About

On this day, The Beatles started working on the George Harrison-penned “Piggies“. From Wikipedia:

The Beatles recorded the basic track for “Piggies” at EMI Studios (now Abbey Road Studios) in London on 19 September 1968. After Harrison had performed the song alone on the Esher demo – playing acoustic guitar and whistling over the solo – the use of harpsichord on the official recording came about through happenstance. Acting as a producer in George Martin’s absence on some of the White Album sessions, Chris Thomas noticed the instrument set up in preparation for a later session, for a classical recording, in EMI’s Studio 1. Harrison agreed that a harpsichord part would suit the song, and so the Beatles’ session was moved from Studio 2.

The group taped eleven takes of “Piggies” before achieving the requisite performance. The line-up was Harrison on acoustic guitar, Thomas on harpsichord, McCartney on bass and Ringo Starr on tambourine. Lennon was present at the session but, with only 4-track recording facilities available in Studio 1 (and the available tracks taken up by the other four musicians), he did not play on the basic track. Having attended London’s Royal Academy of Music as a child, Thomas performed the harpsichord solo in an authentic classical style, according to Pollack, who highlights how “the melody played by the last three fingers [of the right hand] alternates with a repeated note played by the thumb”.

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 – The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions, Mark Lewisohn

The session ended at 5.30am in the morning, and work on overdubs would start later this day.

Last updated on May 28, 2021

Songs recorded


1.

Piggies

Written by George Harrison

Recording • Take 1


2.

Piggies

Written by George Harrison

Recording • Take 2


3.

Piggies

Written by George Harrison

Recording • Take 3


4.

Piggies

Written by George Harrison

Recording • Take 4


5.

Piggies

Written by George Harrison

Recording • Take 5


6.

Piggies

Written by George Harrison

Recording • Take 6


7.

Piggies

Written by George Harrison

Recording • Take 7


8.

Piggies

Written by George Harrison

Recording • Take 8


9.

Piggies

Written by George Harrison

Recording • Take 9


10.

Piggies

Written by George Harrison

Recording • Take 10


11.

Piggies

Written by George Harrison

Recording • Take 11

Staff

Musicians

Paul McCartney:
Bass
Ringo Starr:
Tambourine
George Harrison:
Acoustic guitar
Chris Thomas:
Harpsichord

Production staff

Chris Thomas:
Producer
Ken Scott:
Engineer
Mike Sheady:
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/1968/09/19/recording-piggies/

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