If a genie granted me three wishes right now, I would use one to have myself magically transported to EMI Studios on these days, when John, Paul, and the studio crew spent 24 straight hours — from 5 P.M. Wednesday to the same time on Thursday — strategizing, sequencing, and creating crossfades for the White Album.

I would probably have to use another wish to get them to let me participate in the conversation and make suggestions. But if “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da” suddenly disappears from the White Album, you’ll know why. (I don’t know how I’m going to convince Paul on that one, but I’ll figure something out. I don’t actually hate that song enough to blow my last wish on it.)

Says The Beatles Bible,

All three main studios at Abbey Road were used, in addition to two extra rooms, as the final running order was decided upon and a master tape assembled. Although the styles on the White Album were varied, each of the four sides began with a strong song, each had a George Harrison song, songs with animals in the title were mostly presented together on side two, and rock songs were mostly collected on side three.

On Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, The Beatles had insisted there should be no three-second gaps between the songs. A similar policy was adopted for the White Album, and wherever possible the songs were joined via a crossfade or a straight edit.

With George out of the country, it’s a little surprising that John and Paul didn’t take this opportunity to cut more of his songs. Could it be they were finally starting to respect him as a songwriter? George’s four songs on the White Album are even more than the three he got on Revolver — though spread out over the 2 LPs, it averages out to less per side.

The decision to make this a double album was and remains controversial. At the time, only John and Paul seem to have been in favor of the idea — but their opinions were the ones that mattered.

I would have supported them in that decision, though I would have quibbled with some of the details. The sequencing of the White Album is often haphazard, almost perversely so, with (for instance) the ear-melting “Helter Skelter” followed by the quiet, delicate “Long, Long, Long,” and “I’m So Tired” incongruously sandwiched between “Martha My Dear” and “Blackbird.”

The art of sequencing is a strange and esoteric one whose importance is often underappreciated. I would say that the White Album succeeds despite, rather than because of, its sequence — which does serve, nonetheless, to highlight the sheer range and diversity of the material.

So when they finally called it quits at 5 on Thursday, they had an album. They did not, I believe, have a title or a cover. The album for a time had had the working title A Doll’s House; calling it The Beatles was a minimalist decision reflecting the minimalist cover art they eventually settled on, and also the general idea of stripping away the excesses of the wave of High Psychedelia that had crested in 1967 and was now ebbing.

I’m not sure at what point people started calling it the White Album; that is perhaps a subject for further research, as our time here today is at an end.

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