Recording: Michelle

Studio Two, EMI Studios, Abbey Road
Producer: George Martin
Engineer: Norman Smith

One of the highlights of the Rubber Soul album, Paul McCartney’s ‘Michelle’, was recorded on this day at Abbey Road.

There were two scheduled sessions, from 2.30-7pm and 7-11.30pm, although the day was effectively one continuous session. During the afternoon the group rehearsed and arranged the rhythm track, which was recorded in a single take onto several tracks of the multi-track tape.

The backing track contained McCartney’s Epiphone Texan acoustic guitar, George Harrison playing John Lennon’s Framus 12-string acoustic guitar, and Ringo Starr’s drumming. Each of the guitars on the rhythm track was capoed at the fifth fret. The recording was then given a reduction mix to free up extra tracks for overdubs.

Paul McCartney's handwritten lyrics for Michelle

In the evening Lennon filled track two with his Ramírez acoustic guitar, on which he played the descending notes in the song’s introduction and transitions, plus a bass guitar part by McCartney, and an electric guitar solo played by Harrison.

On track three were Lennon, McCartney and Harrison’s harmony vocals, and onto the final track McCartney recorded his lead vocals.

Because it was only on four little tracks, it was very easy to mix. There were no decisions to make, we’d made them all in the writing and in the recording. We would mix them, and it would take half an hour, maybe. Then it would go up on a shelf, in a quarter-inch tape box. And that was it. That was the only thing we ever did to ‘Michelle’.
Paul McCartney
Many Years From Now, Barry Miles
Last updated: 26 June 2023
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