Today The Beatles worked some more on “A Day in the Life.” They began, says Geoff Emerick, by reviewing the previous day’s recordings and deciding which takes of John Lennon’s vocal they liked the best. “Lennon sat behind the mixing console with George Martin and me,” says Emerick, “picking out the bits he liked.”


Emerick continues:

With that done, it was time to reattack the question of the missing middle section. Paul had gone through his notebook and discovered a snippet of a song – a section of an unfinished composition written months or years before – that he felt might fit, and John quickly concurred. The four Beatles, with Paul singing a guide vocal, then recorded the backing track to this new piece, which I edited into the four-track master. In what could only be described as pure serendipity, it happened to begin with the lyric “Woke up/Fell out of bed…” which, incredibly, perfectly fit the alarm clock ringing.

That seems like plenty to have accomplished for one day, but they also recorded bass and drum tracks. Ringo, apparently, had to be egged on to play the booming drum fills that we now know so well. (“You know how much I hate flashy drumming,” Emerick quotes him as saying.) Picture John and Paul standing over his shoulder, yelling “Hit them harder, Ringo! Harder!” (“But I’ve got blisters on me fingers!” answers Future Ringo.)


Meanwhile, out in the world, the evil Beatles (a/k/a the Rolling Stones) released a new LP, Between the Buttons. Above and beyond being the Stones’ most psychedelic work to date — which was perfectly normal for 1967 — BtB is oddly in sync with the as-yet-unreleased material The Beatles had recorded recently. The opening track is called “Yesterday’s Papers” and the album ender is a day-in-the-life-type number called “Something Happened to Me Yesterday,” whose bouncy music-hall feel is downright McCartneyesque. “Cool, Calm and Collected,” too, could accurately be described as “rooty-tooty” and actually features a kazoo solo.

It’s worth noting that the UK version of Between the Buttons released today does not include “Let’s Spend the Night Together” and “Ruby Tuesday,” which were added to the US LP when it came out in February. Sgt. Pepper, when it appeared five months later, would be the first Beatles album not altered for American release. I think Capitol Records finally figured out that The Beatles were too big a deal to be trifled with; otherwise it’s easy to imagine them adding “Strawberry Fields” and “Penny Lane” and deleting…well, ideally “She’s Leaving Home” and “When I’m 64,” but more likely it would have been one or more John songs.

Parallel universe Capitol exec: “Yeah, listen, we just got the acetate of that new Beatles record and I have to tell you, I don’t hear a single. We need to get that “Penny Lane” on there, and it won’t be hard to make room. This last song, the one with the car crash and the holes, I mean what the heck is that all about? It’s like six minutes long and ends with a horrible noise and some kind of demon voices. And what kind of degenerate goes around saying ‘I’d love to turn you on?’ ”

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