The Paul McCartney Project

Oh! Darling

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Album This song officially appears on the Abbey Road Official album.
Timeline This song has been officially released in 1969
Sessions This song has been recorded during the following sessions

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Song facts

From Wikipedia:

Oh! Darling” is a song by the English rock band the Beatles, composed by Paul McCartney (credited to Lennon–McCartney), and appearing as the fourth song on the 1969 album Abbey Road. Its working title was “Oh! Darling (I’ll Never Do You No Harm)“. Although not issued as a single in either the United Kingdom or the United States, a regional subsidiary of Capitol successfully edited it as a single in Central America, having “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer” as its B-side. It was also issued as a single in Portugal. Apple Records released “Oh! Darling” in Japan with “Here Comes the Sun” in June 1970.

Background

McCartney later said of recording the track, “When we were recording ‘Oh! Darling’ I came into the studios early every day for a week to sing it by myself because at first my voice was too clear. I wanted it to sound as though I’d been performing it on stage all week.” He would only try the song once each day; if it was not right he would wait until the next day. According to sound engineer Alan Parsons, McCartney once lamented that “five years ago I could have done this in a flash“. In a 1980 interview with Playboy magazine, John Lennon said, “‘Oh! Darling’ was a great one of Paul’s that he didn’t sing too well. I always thought I could have done it better – it was more my style than his. He wrote it, so what the hell, he’s going to sing it.

George Harrison described the song as “a typical 1950s–’60s-period song because of its chord structure“.

Let It Be session

After an early attempt at this song on 27 January 1969 during the Let It Be sessions, Lennon announced, “Just heard that Yoko’s divorce has just gone through“, after which he and the band burst into an improvised version of the song, substituting “I’m free at last” for a part of the lyric. The song and the following improvisation are included on the Anthology 3 CD. This version also features a keyboard part played by Billy Preston.

Recording

The basic track was recorded on 20 April 1969. There were many overdub sessions, including McCartney’s attempts at the lead vocal (as described above). According to Ian MacDonald, the backing vocals were “exquisite“, but “sadly underplayed in the mix“. Engineer Geoff Emerick recalled that McCartney sang while the backing track played over speakers, instead of headphones, because he wanted to feel as though he was singing to a live audience. The song is one of several tracks on Abbey Road that have never been performed onstage by McCartney or any other of the Beatles to date.

During their recording, the group meet the New Zealand rock band The Fourmyula, who were recording in the adjoining studio.

Influences

Oh! Darling” appears to have drawn heavily on the New Orleans rhythm and blues sound popularised during the 1950s and early 1960s by African-American musicians such as Fats Domino; it also seems to have drawn on the Louisiana swamp blues sound found in songs like Slim Harpo’s “Raining in My Heart” and Charles Brown’s “Please Come Home for Christmas“. Furthermore, it may have drawn on the related Louisiana genre known today as swamp pop, whose distinctive sound bears an uncanny resemblance to the basic structure of “Oh! Darling” – so much so that some in Louisiana originally thought the song had been recorded by a local musician. (When swamp pop musician John Fred met the Beatles in London in the 1960s, he was shocked to learn that “they were very familiar with Louisiana music.“) Fittingly, swamp pop musician Jay Randall eventually covered “Oh! Darling” for the Lanor label of Church Point, Louisiana.

Paul McCartney in "Many Years From Now", by Barry Miles:

I mainly remember wanting to get the vocal right, wanting to get it good, and I ended up trying each morning as I came into the recording session. I tried it with a hand mike, and I tried it with a standing mike, I tried it every which way, and finally got the vocal I was reasonably happy with. It’s a bit of a belter, and if it comes off a little bit lukewarm, then you’ve missed the whole point. It was unusual for me, I would normally try all the goes at a vocal in one day.

From The Usenet Guide to Beatles Recording Variations:

[a] stereo 12 Aug 1969.
UK: Apple PCS 7088 Abbey Road 1969.
US: Apple SO-383 Abbey Road 1969.
CD: EMI CDP 7 46446 2 Abbey Road 1987.

Last updated on August 11, 2019

Lyrics

Oh! Darling, please believe me
I'll never do you no harm
Believe me when I tell you
I'll never do you no harm

Oh! Darling, if you leave me
I'll never make it alone
Believe me when I beg you
Don't ever leave me alone

When you told me
You didn't need me anymore
Well you know I nearly broke down and cried

When you told me
You didn't need me anymore
Well you know I nearly broke down and died

Oh! Darling, if you leave me
I'll never make it alone
Believe me when I tell you
I'll never do you no harm
Believe me darling

When you told me
You didn't need me anymore
Well you know I nearly broke down and cried

When you told me
You didn't need me anymore
Well you know I nearly broke down and died

Oh! Darling, please believe me
I'll never let you down
(Oh, believe me darling)
Believe me when I tell you
I'll never do you no harm

Officially appears on


Abbey Road

Official album • Released in 1969

3:27 • Studio versionA • Stereo

Paul McCartney:
Backing vocals, Bass, Guitar, Vocals
Ringo Starr:
Drums
John Lennon:
Backing vocals, Piano
George Harrison:
Backing vocals, Guitar
George Martin:
Producer
Phil McDonald:
Engineer
Chris Thomas:
Producer
Jeff Jarratt:
Engineer

Session Recording:
Apr 20, 1969
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Three, Abbey Road

Session Recording:
20, 26 Apr, 23 Jul, 8, 11 Aug 1969
Studio:
EMI Studios, Abbey Road

Session Mixing:
Aug 12, 1969
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road


Anthology 3

Official album • Released in 1996

4:08 • OuttakeB • Stereo • Faded up a few seconds into the performance because the tape-machine operator missed the start, this is the Beatles routining another new Paul McCartney song that came to rest not with the Get Back/Let It Be project but on the later Abbey Road album. (That version was recorded May to August 1969.) Paul plays bass guitar here so the piece lacks the later version's piano foundation, although Billy Preston does contribute a keyboard part, and it soon develops into a jam, culminating in a newsflash that a clearly delighted John Lennon was quick to share with his fellow bandsmen.

George Martin:
Producer
Glyn Johns:
Engineer

Session Recording:
Jan 27, 1969
Studio:
Apple Studios, 3 Savile Row, London


Abbey Road (2019)

Official album • Released in 2019

3:27 • Studio versionA2019 • Stereo • 2019 Stereo Mix

Paul McCartney:
Backing vocals, Bass, Guitar, Vocals
Ringo Starr:
Drums
John Lennon:
Backing vocals, Piano
George Harrison:
Backing vocals, Guitar
George Martin:
Producer
Giles Martin:
Producer
Phil McDonald:
Engineer
Chris Thomas:
Producer
Jeff Jarratt:
Engineer
Sam Okell:
Mix engineer

Session Recording:
Apr 20, 1969
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Three, Abbey Road

Session Recording:
20, 26 Apr, 23 Jul, 8, 11 Aug 1969
Studio:
EMI Studios, Abbey Road

Session Mixing:
Aug 12, 1969
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road


Abbey Road (2019)

Official album • Released in 2019

3:31 • Alternate takeC • Take 4

Giles Martin:
Producer
Sam Okell:
Mix engineer

Session Recording:
Apr 20, 1969
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Three, Abbey Road

Bootlegs


Abbey Road Sessions

Unofficial album

3:28 • Outtake • Get Back Session 27.56 Stereo


Abbey Road Sessions

Unofficial album

4:07 • Outtake • Take 26 Mono


Abbey Road Sessions

Unofficial album

3:26 • Outtake • Unknown Take Stereo


Abbey Road Sessions

Unofficial album

0:57 • Outtake • Vocal Overdub Session Mono


Abbey Road Sessions

Unofficial album

2:07 • Outtake • Vocal Overdub Session 1 Mono


Videos

Album • Abbey Road (2019)

Album • Abbey Road (2019)

Live performances

Paul McCartney has never played this song in concert.


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