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The Beatles Songs: Honey Pie

The history of this classic Beatles song


The Beatles Songs: Honey Pie

The original US sheet music for "Honey Pie"


Honey Pie

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

Recorded: October 1-2 and 4, 1968 (Trident Studios, London, England)
Mixed: October 1 and 5, 1968
Length: 2:41
Takes: Unknown


John Lennon: lead and rhythm guitar (1965 Epiphone E230TD(V) Casino)
Paul McCartney: lead vocals, piano (C. Bechstein)
George Harrison: bass guitar (1961 Fender Bass VI)
Ringo Starr: drums (Ludwig)
Ronald Chamberlain, Jim Chester, Harry Klein, Rex Morris, Dennis Walton: saxophones
Raymond Newman, David Smith: clarinets

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)


  • "Honey Pie" was another in a line of Paul McCartney songs that paid homage to the sound of 1920's "trad jazz" dance bands, a style he learned from his father, Jim, who had played the music professionally in his younger years. Though Paul debuted this style with the Sgt. Pepper homage to family, "When I'm Sixty-Four," the romantic stakes were higher on this track, which was finished and recorded after he'd met his future wife, photographer and socialite Linda Eastman. He'd first encountered her in London in May 1967 and ran into her again almost exactly a year later at the press conference announcing the formation of Apple Corps; by the time recording commenced on this number, they were already a month into their whirlwind romance, Paul having invited her to his London home.
  • The song, nevertheless, had its beginnings in India in the spring of 1968, and was present on the "Kinfauns" demos made at George's home in Esher that May, lacking the freeform introduction, the first verse and the second half of the first bridge ("You became a legend of the silver screen..."). Coincidentally, Linda was living in New York, which may have inspired the line about being too lazy to go see her.
  • The recording of "Honey Pie" was fairly simple and took place entirely at Trident Studios while the group waited for Abbey Road to finally install its new 8-track recording console. On October 1st, the basic track was laid down, featuring Paul on piano and a rare bass track by George; the next day Paul recorded his lead vocal. That same day the track's appropriately jazzy lead guitar solo was laid down: George recalls John playing it, but other sources suggest McCartney wiped this attempt and played the solo on his own. Finally, on the 4th, George Martin came up with a perfect arrangement for five saxophones and two clarinets. That same day, the final touch was added, with Paul singing the line "Now she's hit the big time!" through a filter that made him sound like an old record. Martin recorded the sound of an old 78 and mixed it in, completing the illusion. McCartney then moved on to add some tracks to "Martha My Dear."

  • Although several rehearsals and takes were done in recording this song, only the final one was numbered, perhaps due to the increased options provided by the 8-track console. Thus there is technically only one take of "Honey Pie."
  • This song bears no similarities and has no relation to another Paul song on the album, a strange experiment called "Wild Honey Pie"; the title of that song was a play on this one and the fact that the Beach Boys, some of whom were staying with the Beatles while on retreat in India, had just written a song called "Wild Honey."
  • The mono version of this song features a slightly longer guitar solo.

Covered by: Barbra Streisand, The Pixies, Tuck and Patti, Gary Lawrence, Nicky Scott, The Downsiders, Allan Klein, The King's Singers, The Golden Gate Quartet, John Pizzarelli, Dom DeLuise

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