Today marked the beginning of one of the biggest ordeals of The Beatles’ career: the recording of “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da.” Although it took only a week and a relatively modest (for the White Album) 22 takes, “Ob-La-Di” was repeatedly scrapped and started over from scratch, fraying the nerves of all involved — most notably those of John Lennon, who never liked it to begin with.

Part of the problem was that it was supposed to have a ska rhythm, with the accent on the downbeat, which did not come naturally to four Caucasian lads from Liverpool. The melody was simple enough, but they had a very hard time getting the feel that Paul wanted. In the end it would be John who, out of sheer frustration, stepped in and made it happen.

Today’s session began straightforwardly enough, with Paul recording seven takes of an acoustic guitar track with guide vocals and Ringo playing drums. But at this point indecision began to creep in. After initially favoring take 4 and overdubbing more guitar onto it, Paul changed his mind and decided that take 7 was the best. He then added a distorted acoustic guitar track onto take 7.

With a bare-bones backing track in the can, it probably seemed like a reasonable amount of progress had been made, and that finishing the song would be a simple matter of fleshing it out with overdubs. This did not turn out to be the case.

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