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Her Majesty by the Beatles

The history of this classic Beatles song

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Her Majesty by the Beatles

Paul McCartney with Queen Elizabeth II

beatlephotoblog.com

Her Majesty by the Beatles

Written by: Paul McCartney (100%)
(credited as Lennon-McCartney)

Recorded: July 2, 1969 (Studio 2, Abbey Road Studios, London, England)
Mixed: July 30, 1969
Length: 0:23
Takes: 3

Musicians:

Paul McCartney: lead vocals, acoustic guitar (1967 Martin D-28)

Available on: (CDs in bold)

  • Abbey Road, (US: Apple SO 383, UK: Apple PCS 7088, Parlophone CDP 7 46446 2)

    History:

    • The shortest of all Beatles songs, "Her Majesty" was a throwaway ditty, alternately described by Paul as "almost a love song to the Queen" and yet "mildly disrespectful." More of a joke along the lines of John's "Mean Mr. Mustard," it was written at Paul's farm in Scotland sometime in late 1968, and was one of several dozen ideas for songs presented to the other Beatles during the abortive Let It Be sessions in early 1969. On January 9th he showed it to the band for the first time; on the 24th they came across it again in rehearsals, wherein John gamely attempted to accompany Paul on slide guitar.
    • However, the song never developed beyond one verse -- Paul sang wordless vocals on the second attempt, a number of "doo doo doos" that brought the track to its longest form of 1:43 -- and so it was quickly shelved. On July 2, 1969, while waiting for the band to arrive to work on the "Golden Slumbers / Carry That Weight" segment of the long Abbey Road medley, Paul played three takes of the song; it's unclear whether he intended to present it as a demo or to make it a standalone track. Nevertheless, he had it spliced into the big medley between "Mean Mr. Mustard" and "Polythene Pam," using the loud final chord of "Mustard" as an intro and dropping the final note of "Majesty" to make room for "Pam."
    • Paul immediately realized it didn't work in the medley, perhaps noting that it damaged the momentum built up between the two songs, so he instructed second engineer John Kurlander to get rid of it. Producer George Martin, however, had already given strict instructions never to throw any Beatle material away, so Kurlander added 14 seconds of silence to the medley and placed it there for safekeeping. However, he passed the buck by adding a note to the box instructing Apple's Malcolm Davies to get rid of the extra song. Davies, however, didn't want to be the man who destroyed a Beatles song either, and so the lacquer copy of Abbey Road Paul heard contained the song, introductory silence, missing final note and all. Liking the effect, he left the mistake on the master, creating the world's first "hidden bonus track."

    Trivia:

    • Adding to the song's anomaly, the first pressings of Abbey Road did not list "Her Majesty" as a track on the back cover, making it valuable to collectors. Perhaps to further accent the song's status as an outlier, McCartney had the song make a complete pan from hard right to hard left in the final mix.
    • The Beatles: Rock Band includes the last note, to the dismay of some fans. Several attempts have been made by fans to splice "Her Majesty" back into the medley.
    • Surprisingly, Paul played this song live once -- unsurprisingly, during the Queen's Golden Jubilee celebrations at Buckingham Palace. Several other bands have attempted to cover the song, sometimes adding extra verses to lengthen it. At the end of HBO's "13th Annual Young Comedians Special" in 1989, comedian Dennis Miller waited 14 seconds after the credits and then sang an impromptu performance of it.

    Covered by: Chumbawamba, Phish, Dave Matthews Band, Eddie Vedder, The Low Anthem, Tok Tok Tok, Peter Combe, Great Big Sea, Twilight Singers, Bruce Coffin

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