Today’s session, for reasons unclear, took place not at Abbey Road but at Olympic Sound Studios on Church Road in London. Olympic’s manager, Keith Grant, was known for working fast and getting things done; so maybe The Beatles were looking for that after spending so much time finagling details for Sgt. Pepper. According to Grant,

The Beatles said that this was the fastest record they’d ever made. They were used to a much more leisurely pace. We started the session at about 9pm and it was finished and mixed by about 3am, vocals and everything.

The song they were working on — “Baby, You’re a Rich Man” — was, like “A Day in the Life,” spliced together from what had been two separate songs. The verses were John’s, the chorus was Paul’s; John’s bits may have been inspired by his attendance of the 14 Hour Technicolour Dream.

Opinions on this song seem to be divided, but I have always rated it highly. I find its combination of upbeat encouragement and psychedelic strangeness very winning. Doubtless there’s some level of irony in John’s question “How does it feel to be one of the beautiful people?”, but I’m more than happy to take it at face value. As a matter of fact, John, it feels great. Thanks for asking.

And sure, it’s easy enough for a millionaire rock star to say “Baby, you’re a rich man too.” Many people listening will not in fact be rich, or even a man… but it’s always worth taking the time to appreciate what you do have going for you. And whenever this songs comes on I feel a little richer and more beautiful for the next three minutes.

Olympic Sound, by the way, was a favorite of the Rolling Stones, and Mick Jagger was present in the studio today. He may or may not have contributed backing vocals. Let’s just say that he did, though, because it’s more fun that way.

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