Recording "Eleanor Rigby", "I'm Only Sleeping"

Friday, April 29, 1966 • For The Beatles

Part of

Recording "Revolver"

April 6 - June 22, 1966 • Songs recorded during this session appear on Revolver (UK Mono)

Album Songs recorded during this session officially appear on the Revolver (UK Mono) LP.
EMI Studios, Studio Three, Abbey Road

Master release

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This was the sixteenth day of the recording sessions for the “Revolver” album. The session lasted from 5 pm to 1 am. This time was spent adding overdubs on “Eleanor Rigby” and “I’m Only Sleeping“.

The backing track of “Eleanor Rigby“, played by a double string quartet and no Beatles, had been recorded the previous day. On this day, overdubs were added onto take 15. Paul McCartney recorded his lead vocals and ADT (artificial double-tracking) was applied in some places to provide harmonies.

I didn’t think I was singing it well. I remember talking to George (Martin). I said, ‘I’m not singing this (well)’ He said, ‘No, it’s ok.’ He was calming me down. And we double-tracked it, I think probably because I didn’t think I’d sung it well. So when we would double-track it, we’d cover any sins.

Paul McCartney – From McCartney 3,2,1 documentary series, 2021 – Transcribed by

John Lennon and George Harrison also contributed harmony vocals, singing a few “Aaah, look at all the lonely people“.

According to The Beatles Recording Reference Manual – Volume 2 – Help! through Revolver (1965-1966) by Jerry Hammack, Ringo Starr also played some congas while another Beatle contributed finger cymbal. This overdub was dropped in favour of a second lead vocal recorded on June 6, 1966.

Three mono mixes were then made but would never be used.

Towards 7 pm, The Beatles switched to “I’m Only Sleeping“. They had recorded the rhythm track two days before, on April 27. But they were not entirely satisfied with the result, as, on this day, they started working on a remake.

They recorded some rehearsals with acoustic guitar, drums and vibraphone, before recording five formal takes of this new version (numbered takes 1 to 5), with John on acoustic guitar and vocals, Starr on drums, and Paul on vocals. One of those rehearsals and Take 1 were released on Anthology 2 in 1996.

A brief instrumental rehearsal – distinguished, unusually, by a vibraphone part being played along with the acoustic guitar and drums. This recording nearly didn’t survive: the session tape was spooled back after the Beatles had finished rehearsing and five proper, numbered takes were recorded anew form the top, wiping over the earlier sounds. The last of these stopped just short of where the rehearsals had concluded, leaving the final minute intact.

From Anthology 2 liner notes

Take 1. The other version presented here (in mono, because it was taped that way) is the first of these proper, numbered takes – recorded, curiously, two days after the Beatles had already cut takes 1 to 11, the last of which led to the Revolver master. None of these five further takes (acoustic guitar, simple percussion and joint John and Paul vocals) was used.

From Anthology 2 liner notes

Not satisfied by this remake, The Beatles finally decided to return to take 11, recorded two days before, and record John Lennon’s lead vocals onto it.

They made use of the remaining time in the studio on this day to overdub John’s lead vocals onto the previously recorded ‘take eleven,’ clipping off a brief acoustic guitar introduction in the process. “We tried to get the vocals to sound like somebody’s asleep, which is very difficult,” George Harrison explained.

More “vari-speed” experimentation ensued, the rhythm track being played back at 47 ¾ cycles which slowed down the original recording tremendously since it was recorded at 56 cycles as previously noted. John’s vocals were then recorded at 45 cycles so that it would come through with a higher tonality when played at regular speed. While this sounds confusing, the resulting effect is especially noteworthy on the finished product, the rhythm track being recorded faster and being slowed down while the lead vocals were recorded slower and sped up. This puts the finished song in the very odd key of E-flat minor (instead of E-minor as probably originally played). Finally, by 1 am the following morning, the lead vocals of “I’m Only Sleeping” were complete.


After this day, the “Revolver” sessions were paused for nearly a week. Work would continue on “I’m Only Sleeping” when they restarted on May 5, 1966.

Last updated on October 16, 2022

Songs recorded


Eleanor Rigby

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording • SI onto take 15


Eleanor Rigby

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording • Mono mixing - Remix 1 from take 15


Eleanor Rigby

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording • Mono mixing - Remix 2 from take 15


Eleanor Rigby

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording • Mono mixing - Remix 3 from take 15


I'm Only Sleeping

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording • Remake - Take 1

Album Officially released on Anthology 2


I'm Only Sleeping

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording • Remake - Take 2


I'm Only Sleeping

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording • Remake - Take 3


I'm Only Sleeping

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording • Remake - Take 4


I'm Only Sleeping

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording • Remake - Take 5


I'm Only Sleeping

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Recording • SI onto take 11


Musicians on "Eleanor Rigby"

Paul McCartney:
Lead vocals
Ringo Starr:
John Lennon:
Harmony vocals
George Harrison:
Harmony vocals
Finger cymbal

Musicians on "I'm Only Sleeping"

Paul McCartney:
Ringo Starr:
John Lennon:
Vocals, Acoustic guitar

Production staff

George Martin:
Geoff Emerick:
Phil McDonald:
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 2 - Help! through Revolver (1965-1966)

The second book of the Association for Recorded Sound Collections (ARSC)-nominated series, "The Beatles Recording Reference Manual: Volume 2: Help! through Revolver (1965-1966)" follows the evolution of the band from the end of Beatlemania with "Help!" through the introspection of "Rubber Soul" up to the sonic revolution of "Revolver". 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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