Recording: Martha My Dear, Honey Pie

Trident Studios, St Anne’s Court, London
Producer: George Martin
Engineer: Barry Sheffield

Recording for two White Album songs took place on this day at London’s Trident Studios: Martha My Dear and Honey Pie.

Paul McCartney had written Martha My Dear in Rishikesh, India earlier in 1968, and had presumably recorded a private demo version prior to this session, to allow George Martin to prepare a score.

McCartney was the only Beatle to perform on Martha My Dear. On this day he first recorded a guide vocal and piano part in a single take, onto which drums were overdubbed during the middle section.

From 6-9pm seven session musicians recorded parts for Honey Pie at Trident. They were saxophonists Dennis Walton, Ronald Chamberlain, Jim Chester, Rex Morris and Harry Klein, and clarinetists Raymond Newman and David Smith.

Between 9pm and midnight a different set of musicians performed George Martin’s arrangement for Martha My Dear. They were violinists Bernard Miller, Dennis McConnell, Lou Sofier and Les Maddox; viola players Leo Birnbaum and Henry Myerscough; cellists Reginald Kilbey and Frederick Alexander, trumpeters Leon Calvert, Stanley Reynolds and Ronnie Hughes; French horn player Tony Tunstall; trombonist Ted Barker; and tuba player Alf Reece. Leon Calvert also added a flugelhorn part after the main overdub had been completed.

From midnight until the session ended at 4.30am, McCartney re-recorded his vocals, also adding handclaps over the instrumental section. Martha My Dear was completed the following day, with the addition of electric and bass guitar.

During this session, McCartney also put the finishing touches to Honey Pie. He resang the line “Now she’s hit the big time”, with the signal heavily limited to remove much of the bass and treble in his voice. The sound of vinyl surface noise was also added to give a suitable period feel.

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