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The Beatles Songs: Good Night

The history of this classic Beatles song


The Beatles Songs: Good Night

Ringo in the studio recording "Good Night"


Good Night

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

Recorded: July 22, 1968 (Studio 1, Abbey Road Studios, London, England)
Mixed: October 11, 1968
Length: 3:10
Takes: 24


Ringo Starr: lead vocals
George Martin: celesta
The Mike Sammes Singers (Ken Barrie, Ross Gilmour, Irene King, Fred Lucas, Mike Redway, Val Stockwell, Ingrid Thomas, Pat Whitmore): backing vocals
Unknown: violins (12), violas (3), cellos (3), double bass, flutes (3), clarinet, horn, vibraphone, harp

Available on: (CDs in bold)

The Beatles (a/k/a "The White Album"; UK: Apple PMC 7067-8; US: Apple SWBO 101; Parlophone CDP 7 46443 2; CDP 7 46444 2)


  • Although it seems in retrospect like the perfect closer for the bizarre and lengthy "White Album," John Lennon's tender lullaby "Good Night" was actually one of the first songs recorded for the project. Written after returning from India and beginning his divorce from his first wife, Cynthia, John composed it on piano at his "Kenwood" home in Weybridge, London, as a pledge of devotion and a measure of comfort for his five-year-old son, Julian.
  • Recording the song proved a little more difficult than anticipated for such a simple number, however. Perhaps realizing that Ringo's guilelessness was perfect for such an innocent tune -- or perhaps frightened of his own emotional vulnerability -- he elected to let the drummer sing it, and rehearsals began on June 28, 1968, with John again on piano. (One of these was captured on Anthology 3.) That same day, John added his Epiphone Casino guitar to the mix; on June 2nd, Ringo re-cut his lead and John, Paul, and George added backing vocals. Producer George Martin began writing an orchestral score.
  • For unknown reasons, this version was scrapped, John apparently deciding, as with so many Beatles songs from this period, that he was unsure whether to treat such a simple declaration seriously. With that in mind, he asked Martin to arrange it "like Hollywood. Yeah, corny," and he obliged on July 22nd, after work had been completed on Ringo's "Don't Pass Me By," with a complete remake. This version featured a 30-piece orchestra and the Mike Sammes Singers, who had already been used by the band to more sinister effect on "I Am the Walrus," singing the "Joker's" laughter ("ho ho ho / hee hee hee / ha ha ha!") and the outro's two simultaneous chants: "Everybody's got one / everybody's got one" and "Oompah, oompah / stick it up your jumper." A nervous Ringo then re-cut his lead, although without the spoken introductions John had asked for on the original take, an intro along the lines of "Come on, children, it's time to toddle off to bed."
  • The middle section of "Good Night" was almost certainly composed by George Martin; it is said to have resemblences to an earlier orchestral composition of his called "The Game."
  • As one might imagine, several entities have used "Good Night" as end music; Coldplay played themselves off stage with it every night on their 2005 tour, and at least one TV network in Sydney used it as sign-off music in the 1980s. It was also used as incidental music on the 2006 Cirque du Soleil soundtrack album Love. John himself recorded impromptu versions on his own 1969 Wedding Album and, that same year, during an appearance on an Israeli radio network.
  • The mono version of this song, unlike the stereo version, does not fade in from "Revolution 9" but rather starts cold.
  • This was the third of four songs to feature only one Beatle: Paul's "Yesterday," George's "Within You Without You," and, a few months later, John's "Julia."
Covered by: Barbra Streisand, Linda Ronstadt, The Carpenters, Kenny Loggins, Micky Dolenz, Ramsey Lewis, Manhattan Transfer, The Flirtations, Mi-ke, The Cyril Stapleton Orchestra, Teri Hatcher, Vera Lynn
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