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The Beatles Songs: Fixing a Hole

The history of this classic Beatles song

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The Beatles Songs: Fixing a Hole

UK sheet music for "Fixing a Hole"

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Fixing a Hole

Written by: Paul McCartney (100%)
(credited to Lennon-McCartney)
Recorded: February 9 and 21, 1967 (Regent Sound Studios, London, England; Studio 2, Abbey Road Studios, London, England)
Mixed: February 21, April 7, 1967
Length: 2:33
Takes: 4
Musicians:
John Lennon: bass guitar (1964 Rickenbacker 4001S), backing vocals
Paul McCartney: lead vocals (double-tracked), harpsichord, lead and rhythm guitar (1964 Fender Esquire), backing vocals
George Harrison: lead guitar (1961 Sonic Blue Fender Stratocaster), backing vocals
Ringo Starr: drums (Ludwig), maracas
Available on: (CDs in bold)
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (UK: Parlophone PMC 7027, PCS 7027; Capitol (S)MAS 2653; Parlophone CDP 7 46442 2)

History:

  • This wistful, introspective number was written by Paul in February 1967, a time when, as the group's only remaining bachelor, he was heavily involved in the London social scene. Although still in a relationship with actress and model Jane Asher, he was no longer living with her family, as he had from 1964-1966, and was enjoying the freedom of living on his own. Some have also seen the celebration of freedom in this song as another nod to Paul's marijuana use and the freeing effect he felt it had on his mind. In any event, "Fixing a Hole" was written about being in control of one's life, and was very possibly inspired by a line in the Elvis Presley song "We're Gonna Move," which the band had covered in its Cavern days: "Well, there's a hole in the roof where the rain pours in" is remarkably similar to Paul's "I'm fixing a hole where the rain gets in." It's also been theorized that McCartney was inspired by fixing the roof of his High Park farm in Mull of Kintyre, Scotland, which he'd purchased sight unseen the year before; however, Paul himself has said he never did any repairs on the farm until he moved in with wife Linda in 1969.
  • The bridge of the song also, however, refers to the flip side of this freedom: Paul had many fans visiting his new home at 7 Cavendish Avenue in London, and many of them seemed to be doing whatever they could to get in. This inspired the lines "See the people standing there who disagree and never win / and wonder why they don't get in my door" and "Silly people run around they worry me / and never ask me why they don't get past my door." The third verse's depiction of a freely "wandering" mind is probably alluding to the aforementioned drug regimen.
  • Longtime Beatles associate and friend Mal Evans was present during the song's inception, and apparently suggested several lyrics used in the final draft. What these are is unclear, since Mal died in a mysterious confrontation with the police in 1976; however, it is known that he was paid a one-time fee for his assistance and given no songwriting credit or royalties.
  • Paul was eager to record the song right away, but since Abbey Road was booked, the band moved to Regent Sound Studio across town for only the second Beatles session to that time not to take place at Abbey Road. (The band had recorded "Can't Buy Me Love" at EMI Pathe' Marconi Studios in Paris while on tour in 1964.) The basic track was laid down very simply, with Paul on harpsichord, John on bass, Ringo on drums, and George on rhythm guitar; after laying down three takes, the song was put away. Two weeks later, Paul recorded a fourth take back at Abbey Road, then decided take 2 was the best of the lot, and double-tracked his vocal. Ringo added maracas, George came up with a solo, Paul laid down a second rhythm guitar track, John, George, and Paul added some backing "oooh"s and "doos" from the second bridge on, and the song was complete.

Trivia:

  • There's been some confusion over who played what on this track. Some claim producer George Martin played the harpsichord, and Paul bass, while there also seems to be some confusion over the maracas and guitar solo. What is known is that the vocal was recorded at the same time as the backing track, unusual for the group and a sign that Paul could not have played bass and harpsichord both. Another band associate, Neil Aspinall, claims to have witnessed Paul playing the harpsichord, and the bass performance seems rather more like John's style (and, frankly, level of technical expertise). This was verified by second engineer Richard Lush. The sound of the guitar phrases during the verses are noticeably different than those of the solo.
  • The mono mix of this song actually edits two separate mixes together; it's therefore a few seconds longer during the end fade, allowing for more of Paul's vocal adlib, much like what had happened earlier with "Got to Get You into My Life."
  • Ironically, one visitor to the Cavendish Avenue home did get past Paul's door -- a confused man who explained to Paul that he was Jesus Christ. McCartney, figuring him for an acid casualty, led him inside and discussed the theological implications for a while in order to calm him down. Then Paul invited him to the Regent session, on the condition he sit quietly in a corner. He did. And was never seen again.
  • Major Beatles fan Jeff Lynne of ELO refers to this song in his 1974 smash "Evil Woman," midway through the first verse: "There's a hole in my head where the rain comes in."

Covered by: George Burns, The Fray, Cheap Trick, Jackie & Roy, Gloria Loring, Paula West, Big Daddy, Nancy Harrow, Duffy Power, Royal Academy of Music Symphony Orchestra, Marcelle Gauvin, Ray Hamilton, Hue & Cry, San Francisco Medicine Ball

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