Oh! DarlingWritten by: Paul McCartney (100%)
(credited as Lennon-McCartney)
Recorded: April 20 and 26, July 17-18, 22-23, August 8 and 11, 1969 (Studio 2, Abbey Road Studios, London, England)
Mixed: April 16, 18, and 20, 1969
John Lennon: backing vocals, piano (1905 Steinway Vertegrand "Mrs. Mills")
Paul McCartney: lead and backing vocals, bass guitar (1964 Rickenbacker 4001S)
George Harrison: backing vocals, lead and rhythm guitar (1968 Fender Rosewood Telecaster), bass guitar (1961 Fender Bass VI)
Ringo Starr: drums (1968 Ludwig Hollywood Maple)
Available on: (CDs in bold)
- Fittingly, Paul McCartney introduced this new '50s-style rocker, based heavily on the New Orleans piano and "swamp pop" traditions, to the band in January 1969 during the rehearsals for the Let It Be project. As with all the other songs introduced, the group gamely attempted several variations of the song, most with Paul on piano. (At some point, Billy Preston took over on electric piano and Paul switched to bass.) Why the song never made the final cut is not known, but McCartney knew it had potential and resurrected it for the Abbey Road sessions. On April 20, the band -- now with John on piano -- easily nailed the new arrangement, then went back to work on "I Want You (She's So Heavy)." And that would have been that, except that the romantically tortured vocal called for by the track, clearly more Little Richard than Fats, required quite a bit from Paul.
- Paul attempted his first lead vocal on April 26 but was dissatisfied with the results. A full three months later, taking a page from John's past, he decided to keep recording the vocal over and over each day until he achieved the perfect raw mix of ragged and powerful he was looking for. Living just a few blocks from the Abbey Road studios, he could arrive early each morning and make a new attempt. (Lennon had inadvertently accomplished the same thing way back during the day-long sessions for the band's debut album, when he was forced to sing a shredded "Twist and Shout" after a full day's work on the mic.) He finally achieved it on August 5, near the end of the sessions for the album. On the 11th John, George and Paul added the backing vocals, at which point they put some near-finishing touches on "Heavy" and "Here Comes the Sun."
- Engineer Geoff Emerick recalls Paul complaining about losing his vocal prowess by not being on stage every night: "Five years ago," he was heard saying, "I could have done this in a flash."
- Lennon, who loved the song, was reportedly upset that he wasn't asked to sing lead, asserting his style was much more suited to the track. This may have been the reason "Oh! Darling" never made the "rooftop concert."
- Or perhaps Paul's reluctance to let John sing "Oh! Darling" came from his impromptu performance during the Let It Be sessions. Hearing that Yoko Ono's first husband had finally agreed to grant her a divorce, Lennon joyously belted out his own new lyrics, which can be heard on the outtake preserved on Anthology 3: "I'm free / This morning / Baby told the lawyer it's okay..."