Recording, mixing, editing: Yer Blues, Mother Nature’s Son, Etcetera, Wild Honey Pie

Studios Two and Three, EMI Studios, Abbey Road
Producer: George Martin
Engineer: Ken Scott

This day featured two separate sessions for the White Album, in which two songs were completed and two more were recorded.

The first session lasted just half an hour, from 5-5.30pm in Studio Three. The "Two, three" count-in was added to Yer Blues; this wasn't a new recording, as it was on the original tape, but it was mixed louder and added to the master version.

Revolution 9 was one of The Beatles' most complicated recordings. It had been mixed in stereo on 21 June 1968 and edited four days later.

To create a mono mix from scratch would have been too much work, and would likely have sounded substantially different from the stereo version. The final stereo edit from 25 June was therefore copied to a mono tape to create a mono master during this session, although a second mono copy, which was used on the album, was made on 26 August.

The evening session began at 8pm and ended at 4am. This was primarily for overdubs to Mother Nature's Son, the backing track for which had been recorded on 9 August.

The session was led by Paul McCartney; George Harrison was on holiday in Greece, and John Lennon and Ringo Starr were mostly absent.

Paul was downstairs going through the arrangement with George [Martin] and the brass players. Everything was great, everyone was in great spirits. It felt really good. Suddenly, half way through, John and Ringo walked in and you could cut the atmosphere with a knife. An instant change. It was like that for ten minutes and then as soon as they left it felt great again. It was very bizarre.
Ken Scott
The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions, Mark Lewisohn

At the beginning of the session, Mother Nature's Son featured just two tracks, containing vocals and acoustic guitar. Onto the third McCartney added a bass drum, which was recorded in the stairwell just outside the studio.

Paul wanted an open [echoing] effect on his drums and we ended up leaving the studio itself and putting the drums in the corridor, halfway down, with mikes at the far end. It wasn't carpeted then and it gave an interesting staccato effect.
Alan Brown, technical engineer
The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions, Mark Lewisohn

Track four contained an extra vocal, and the sound of McCartney tapping on a book. A tape reduction, numbered take 26, combined the bass drum and percussion to allow room for the brass overdub.

While waiting for the session musicians to arrive, McCartney recorded a song titled Etcetera. McCartney taped a single take of the song, listened to a playback, then the tape was taken away by George Martin's assistant Chris Thomas.

This was a very beautiful song. I recall it was a ballad and had the word 'etcetera' several times in the lyric. I only heard it twice: when he recorded it and when we played it back to him. The tape was taken away and I've never heard of it since.
Alan Brown, engineer
The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions, Mark Lewisohn

Although McCartney later remembered it as a song written for Marianne Faithfull, Etcetera was in fact a version of Thingumybob. The tune had been recorded by the Black Dyke Mills Band on 30 June 1968 and was released as a single on Apple Records in August.

McCartney's version from this day featured lyrics, in which the word 'etcetera' appeared several times. It also had an extra bridge and a softer introduction which was similar to that of Here, There And Everywhere.

Mother Nature's Son featured two trumpets and two trombones. The instruments were overdubbed along with a brief guitar solo towards the song's end, after which recording was complete. It was mixed in mono in eight attempts towards the end of the session, although new mixes were made on 12 October.

The final song recorded was Wild Honey Pie, though it was listed on the session records as Ad-Lib. McCartney performed the song in a single take, with vocals and acoustic guitar. He then repeated the process twice more, and filled the fourth track with a bass drum.

Wild Honey Pie was given six mono mixes, the last of which was included on the White Album.

Also on this day...

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