Saturday, May 2, 2009

The Ballad of John and Yoko

The main Beatles facts for "The Ballad of John and Yoko" are that the song was written by Lennon within a few days after his marriage to Yoko Ono on March 20, 1969 in Gibraltar, and also that Lennon and McCartney recorded the song by themselves, with no help from Starr or Harrison even though the song was released as a Beatles recording. This is surprising inasmuch as the feuding between Lennon and McCartney was at its peak during this time. The song recounts Lennon and Ono's trouble finding a place where they could be married, their subsequent honeymoon, and trips to Paris and Amsterdam, and staying in bed for a week (e.g., the bed-in at the Amsterdam Hilton).

The song was released in the UK on May 30, 1969 and in the U.S. on June 4, 1969. Ironically, it was the first Beatles' single to be released in stereo but was also the last song recorded with the intention of it being issued as a single. The song was banned on many radio stations in both the United States and Great Britain because of the line "Christ, you know it ain't easy." Because McCartney helped with the recording session, Lennon reciprocated by giving McCartney co-authorship credit for "Give Peace a Chance."

The song was recorded at Abbey Road Studios on April 14, 1969. Lennon played acoustic and lead guitars. McCartney played bass, drums, and piano. Lennon sang lead vocal, with McCartney turning in a great performance with harmony vocal. The two band members recorded a basic rhythm tracks (doing eleven takes) with only acoustic guitar, drums, and the lead vocal. They then decided on the best take and overdubbed the rest of the instruments in a single day. It is reported that John addressed Paul as "Ringo," while Paul addressed John as "George."

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