At this time there was a bit of a pause in Beatles recording sessions, due in part to the absence of Ringo, who at this point was theoretically an ex-Beatle. His departure was not publicized, and until years later very few people were aware that The Beatles were technically a trio for awhile.

Studio technicians took advantage of this break in the schedule to make tape copies of several of the recently completed songs, including “Revolution 9,” “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da,” “Blackbird,” and “Not Guilty.” The tapes were remanded into the possession of Mal Evans, who I assume shared them among the three remaining Beatles as they contemplated their path forward.

So what if Ringo had decided not to return, and the others decided they couldn’t go on without him? (This probably wouldn’t have happened, but just for the sake of discussion….) Here are the songs they would have had in the can for their final album:

  • Back in the U.S.S.R.
  • Blackbird
  • Cry Baby Cry
  • Don’t Pass Me By
  • Everybody’s Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey
  • Good Night
  • Helter Skelter (early version)
  • Mother Nature’s Son
  • Not Guilty
  • Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da
  • Revolution 1
  • Revolution 9
  • Rocky Raccoon
  • Sexy Sadie
  • What’s the New Mary Jane
  • While My Guitar Gently Weeps (version 2, no Clapton)
  • Wild Honey Pie
  • Yer Blues

That’s already too much material for a single album, though you could easily cut “What’s the New Mary Jane” and “Not Guilty,” not to mention (ahem) “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La Da” and “Revolution 9.” And “Helter Skelter” and “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” still works-in-progress, might have been considered not ready for prime time.

That means George would have been excluded from the final Beatles album, which would have been a shame. But you still could have made a pretty good record out of the available material. There might have been a Paul side and a John side, though you’d have to fit Ringo’s song in there, something like this:

Side 1:

  1. Back in the U.S.S.R.
  2. Wild Honey Pie
  3. Rocky Raccoon
  4. Mother Nature’s Son
  5. Blackbird
  6. Don’t Pass Me By

Side 2:

  1. Revolution 1
  2. Sexy Sadie
  3. Yer Blues
  4. Everybody’s Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey
  5. Cry Baby Cry
  6. Good Night

But that’s a bit on the nose. I’d rather have it mixed up, something like this:

Side 1:

  1. Back in the U.S.S.R.
  2. Revolution 1
  3. Everybody’s Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey
  4. Wild Honey Pie
  5. Yer Blues
  6. Rocky Raccoon

Side 2:

  1. Don’t Pass Me By
  2. Sexy Sadie
  3. Mother Nature’s Son
  4. Cry Baby Cry
  5. Blackbird
  6. Good Night

Even so “Dear Prudence,” “Glass Onion,” “Long, Long, Long,” and “Why Don’t We Do It in the Road” would be missed. (Given this, I honestly don’t see how you can argue for making the actual White Album a single LP; at least three sides are needed to do it justice.)

But that’s all in the realm of speculation. In the real world Ringo would be back soon enough; and in the meantime the other three would lay down a stone fucking masterpiece.

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