YELLOW SUBMARINE, Written By: Paul McCartney (90%) John Lennon (10%) credited as Lennon-McCartney.
Recorded on May 26th, 1966 (Studio 3, Abbey Road Studios & June 1st, 1966 (Studio 2, Abbey Road Studios, London)
Mixed June 2-3, 1966 & June 22, 1966. Song Length: 2:46.
Musicians: John Lennon: harmony vocals, rhythm guitar (1964 Gibson J160E)
Paul McCartney: harmony and background vocals, bass guitar (1964 Rickenbacker 4001S), rhythm guitar
(1964 Epiphone FT-79 "Texan")
George Harrison: harmony vocals, tambourine
Ringo Starr: lead vocals, drums (Ludwig), maracas
Mal Evans: bass drum, backing vocals
Mal Evans, Neil Aspinall, George Martin, Geoff Emerick, Patti Harrison, Brian Jones, Marianne Faithfull, Alf Bicknell, John Skinner, Terry Condon: backing vocals
First released: August 5, 1966 (UK: Parlophone R5493), August 8, 1966 (US: Capitol 5715)
Highest chart position: US: 2 (August 20, 1966), UK: 1 (four weeks beginning August 18, 1966)
|History: Written by Paul one night in the summer of 1966 while lying in bed and thinking of making a children's song. It was almost immediately decided that Ringo should sing the lead, since he was thought of by fans as the most lovable group member. To that end, Paul purposefully kept the words and the melody simple. A deceptively simple song, it tells the story of a group of sailors and their idyllic life in the ship of the title.
- Folk singer Donovan, with whom McCartney had just begun a friendship, suggested the "sky of blue and sea of green" lyric; John Lennon helped put some slight (and unknown) finishing lyrical touches.
- The single's sonic effects -- recorded in a separate session on June 1 -- were created in a variety of ways. John blew bubbles through a straw and into a pan of water; Paul and John talked through cans to give the impression of submarine chatter; John spoke through the back of his Vox amp in order to sing along with the final verse; John Skinner and Terry Condon of Abbey Road Studios swirled chains in a bathtub to create the "ocean," and the session's invited musical guests, in addition to singing along with the chorus, created a "party" atmosphere around it all. Finally, engineer Geoff Emerick came up with a recording of a brass band in the EMI vaults and subtly altered it to obscure its source. (This can be heard after the line "and the band begins to play"; it has possibly been identified as a recording of Georges Krier and Charles Helmer's 1906 composition "Le Reve Passe.")
- This is generally considered the "a-side" of the Beatles "Yellow Submarine" / "Eleanor Rigby" single, although neither side was designated as such, simply because of the order on the front of the 45 sleeve and how the single was stocked. (In the UK, both sides of the single charted as one, which was common practice.)
- There are some variations in the mix on this single, more prominent than on some other Beatles releases. Specifically, the repetition of lines in the last verse by John starts a bit earlier in stereo ("life of ease") than the original mono ("every one of us"). A reduction of stereo into mono was also done in 1969 for the Yellow Submarine soundtrack.