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3 February 2014
3.24am
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PeterWeatherby
A Park in the Dark
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Who's singing the line "... in summer" in Penny Lane?

And before everyone fires off a from-the-hip answer, WAIT! :)

I'm asking if anyone has come across anything documented on this question. I know what it sounds like to 99% of the population, and what it sounds like is that, for some completely strange and inexplicable reason, John jumps into the lead vocal limelight just long enough to sing "in summer" before handing the rest of the song over the Paul.

But the more I listen to the song, and especially the isolated vocal track, I hear Paul's voice. A slightly coarsened version of Paul's voice, yes, and with a bit of rasp, but I think it's Paul. I can't imagine why it would be John.

So has anyone seen anything in the various books, biblios, and bibles about this? I've done a fair bit of searching around and can't find anything on the subject, but I know I don't own every book on the subject either, so I'm crowd-sourcing.

Thanks in advance for any insights!

Not a bit like Cagney.
3 February 2014
3.41am
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IveJustSeenAFaceo
Arrived Somewhere (But Not Here)
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I actually thought all of Penny Lane was sung by John for a long time. I'll get back to you on that specific line though

(This signature brought to you by Spaghetti Tuesdays. Occurring on Wednesdays since 2013.)

3 February 2014
6.59am
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Billy Rhythm
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While I haven't "come across anything documented on this question", I have a theory for what it's worth.  Straight up, I'm pretty sure that it's John singing "... in summer" when I hear it, and as to why Paul dropped out in that bit?  It's pretty obvious to me (watch the 'Penny Lane' promo film) that Paul had a hard time keeping a straight face after the "Four of Fish and Finger Pies" line that preceeds it.  I'll give you a clue in that "Four of Fish" likely means "Four Young Ladies" and I'll leave you to decipher "Finger Pies" for yourself, very clever wording for there is indeed a Bakery on Penny Lane so the BBC didn't quite catch the drift, a private joke amongst themselves, no?...:-)

3 February 2014
7.58am
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4or5Magicians
The Foothills of the Headlands
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I cannot cite very specific documentation on that part, but I have a few clues based on existing documentation and personal observation.

Going with Billy Rhythm's theory, The Beatles Bible entry for Penny Lane states that John came up with the "Four of fish and finger pies" line, and confirms the connotations of the line. Even if Paul had trouble keeping a straight face after that line, I can't see John coming up with something like that and doing anything less than belting it out loudly and enthusiastically.

Also, having listened to the song two or three times (the 2009 remaster, compressed to a higher-than-average quality ogg vorbis file), John's vocals seem to get markedly more prominent before the "meanwhile" line in every verse. It is particularly noticeable on the "in summer" part, whether it's Paul's vocals dropping out, John singing louder, or just the way they decided to mix it. I'm going to go with a combination of RFYL's 1st point and BR's theory.

3 February 2014
11.02am
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meanmistermustard
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Don’t make your love suffer insecurities, trade the baggage of self to set another one free. ('Paper Skin' - Kendall Payne)
3 February 2014
5.12pm
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PeterWeatherby
A Park in the Dark
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Thanks, meanmistermustard, for the Winn documentation and the research on the various outtakes and alternate versions.

The issue of vocal overdubs is what makes some of the theories proposed here seem less than convincing to me. However much Paul may have been amused by the "finger pies" line, I'm not convinced that he was so giddy that he couldn't manage a straight take of the lyric at least once. Same thing goes for the suggestion that he was singing harmony and couldn't switch back to the melody in time to sing the lead line; the harmonies were overdubbed, so it makes more sense that he would have just done the lead vocals on one of the takes (including the "in summer" line), and done the harmonies with John and George on a different take.

In fact, if you listen to that one track posted above, the "vocals only" track, it does sound very much like there's a clean edit between "in summer" and "meanwhile back," and I wouldn't be at all surprised if those two lines came from two different takes.

I'm in agreement that the "in summer" line sounds very much like John, but the same part on "I sit and ..." sounds like Paul, albeit with some added rasp in his voice. I think of songs like "A Hard Day's Night," when John gave up an entire bridge to be sung by Paul, and he had a definite reason for the sudden switch in lead vocalists - he said he (John) couldn't hit the notes. It just seems like there would have been a comment in an interview, or a note in one of the studio books, or something on the record somewhere to explain why John suddenly took over the lead vocal in "Penny Lane," but only for two words.

I don't have Lewisohn's books. I wonder if he mentions it at all?

Not a bit like Cagney.
3 February 2014
5.15pm
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Funny Paper
America
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Some here may be developing flop sweat and a Herbert-Lom-in-The-Pink-Panther twitch of the eye at this nightmarish topic resembling the "ahh-ahh-ahhhs" dilemma in A Day In The Life, but I like this question.

I spent 72 feverish hours like the Gene Hackman character going mad in The Conversation listening to that minuscule portion of the audio,blue-meanie with no definitive explanation, but with a tentative conviction that it is John for "in summer".

All seriousness aside, I like Scrambled Eggseses (I hate names that end in "s" and trying to figure out how to add the possessive apostrophe to the ending) theory the best, and by Jove, I think he or she is right -- John is also singing "I sit and" -- passing the baton with breathless aplomb back to Paul; which would fit lyric-wise, dramatic-wise, and most importantly, for the reason "Run For Your Life" gave:

1) It's an fun little idea, and they liked doing that sort of thing.

 

P.S.:  meanmistermustard's 5.1 clip helped me appreciate the subtle vocal contributions of John in the form of dominance during harmony singing in various places of the song -- particularly new for me is in the first time of the "There beneath the blue suburban skies" leading in to Paul's "I sit and meanwhile back".  However, speaking of that, I just noticed that Paul fails to adequately enunciate the "and" in that last connecting line back to the main part of the song "I sit and meanwhile back".  This failure is only noticeable in mmm's 5.1 track, to my ears.

 

Faded flowers, wait in a jar, till the evening is complete... complete... complete... complete...
3 February 2014
5.54pm
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fabfouremily
Sitting in an English garden
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Billy Rhythm said
While I haven't "come across anything documented on this question", I have a theory for what it's worth.  Straight up, I'm pretty sure that it's John singing "... in summer" when I hear it, and as to why Paul dropped out in that bit?  It's pretty obvious to me (watch the '
Penny Lane' promo film) that Paul had a hard time keeping a straight face after the "Four of Fish and Finger Pies" line that preceeds it.  I'll give you a clue in that "Four of Fish" likely means "Four Young Ladies" and I'll leave you to decipher "Finger Pies" for yourself, very clever wording for there is indeed a Bakery on Penny Lane so the BBC didn't quite catch the drift, a private joke amongst themselves, no?...:-)

I've always wondered what that was all about... This seems a likely explanation, actually... :)

My first thought upon seeing this thread was 'nooooo, not another one', but actaully I think it's a good question. It seems there may be little documented, but, as you say, the majority of listener's can't be wrong. It definitely sounds like him. What mmm posted seems to confirm it.

 

Moving along in our God given ways, safety is sat by the fire/Sanctuary from these feverish smiles, left with a mark on the door.

(Passover - I. Curtis)

3 February 2014
8.12pm
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PeterWeatherby
A Park in the Dark
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Haha, yeah, I came across the dreaded "Day in the Life" thread while researching this site for answers to my own question about "Penny Lane." I realized I was stepping into similar territory here, and that's part of the reason I specifically asked for recommendations on documented accounts, and not just opinions as to "who do you think sang this line?" :)

I know we all have opinions and what-not, but I figured we could avoid a flare-up by focusing on the question of what's been said on the written record on the subject. I'd still love to know if Lewisohn has anything on the subject.

Not a bit like Cagney.
3 February 2014
8.33pm
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Mincer Ray
Gainesville, Florida
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3 February 2014
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"I believe that, as long as there is plenty, poverty is evil."  - Bobby Kennedy

3 February 2014
8.42pm
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fabfouremily
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PeterWeatherby said
Haha, yeah, I came across the dreaded "Day in the Life" thread while researching this site for answers to my own question about "
Penny Lane." I realized I was stepping into similar territory here, and that's part of the reason I specifically asked for recommendations on documented accounts, and not just opinions as to "who do you think sang this line?" :)

I know we all have opinions and what-not, but I figured we could avoid a flare-up by focusing on the question of what's been said on the written record on the subject. I'd still love to know if Lewisohn has anything on the subject.

Yeah, you're right. The reason such arguments flare up is because of the lack of info re 'A Day...' and who sang who. People tend to think they know, though.

 

Moving along in our God given ways, safety is sat by the fire/Sanctuary from these feverish smiles, left with a mark on the door.

(Passover - I. Curtis)

3 February 2014
8.50pm
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Mincer Ray
Gainesville, Florida
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3 February 2014
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3 February 2014
9.12pm
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meanmistermustard
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Mincer Ray said

fabfouremily said
Yeah, you're right. The reason such arguments flare up is because of the lack of info re 'A Day...' and who sang who. People tend to think they know, though.

Of course, even when people who were *there* comment, Beatles fans argue:  We *have* first-hand info on the "ahh" in "A Day ..."  Similarly, GH stated he played bass on Old Brown Shoe:  Yet see the debate on that. We Beatles fans--myself included--are an obsessive lot.  

Obsessive!? Us? Never. We love letting things go and not getting bugged by little trivialities or errors or Apple tweaking things Here, There And Everywhere.a-hard-days-night-john-7

 

Don’t make your love suffer insecurities, trade the baggage of self to set another one free. ('Paper Skin' - Kendall Payne)
3 February 2014
9.28pm
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Ahhh Girl
sailing on a winedark open sea
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meanmistermustard said

Obsessive!? Us? Never. We love letting things go and not getting bugged by little trivialities or errors or Apple tweaking things Here, There And Everywhere.a-hard-days-night-john-7

 

paul-mccartney Speaking of cream of the crap, I just read your post as "...or errors or Apple twerking..." paul-mccartney Gotta slow down reading this stuff.

 

3 February 2014
9.39pm
Bungalow Bob
Seattle, Washington
Hollywood Bowl
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16 September 2013
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Ahhh Girl said

meanmistermustard said

Obsessive!? Us? Never. We love letting things go and not getting bugged by little trivialities or errors or Apple tweaking things Here, There And Everywhere.a-hard-days-night-john-7

 

paul-mccartney Speaking of cream of the crap, I just read your post as "...or errors or Apple twerking..." paul-mccartney Gotta slow down reading this stuff.

 

I see this dreaded Miley-Cyrus-inspired fad has reared its ugly… uh, head again. Well, its time we quit this now, like the song says… Cold Twerkey!

Back to the topic at hand! I always thought it was John's voice, but I never once thought about why it was John. Now I wonder why I never thought about it….

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