Recording, mixing: Eleanor Rigby, I’m Only Sleeping

Studio Three, EMI Studios, Abbey Road
Producer: George Martin
Engineer: Geoff Emerick

In a session that began at 5pm on 29 April 1966 and finished at 1am the following morning, The Beatles worked on two songs for Revolver: ‘Eleanor Rigby’ and ‘I’m Only Sleeping’.

The backing track for ‘Eleanor Rigby’ had been recorded with a string octet the day before. On this day, Paul McCartney added his lead vocals onto track four, and he, John Lennon and George Harrison sang harmonies for the chorus on track three.

The song was considered finished at this stage, and three mono mixes were made during this session. However, George Martin requested an additional vocal overdub from McCartney on 6 June 1966, leaving these mixes redundant.

Paul McCartney's handwritten lyrics for Eleanor Rigby

The Beatles had recorded the backing track for ‘I’m Only Sleeping’ on 27 April. On this day, however, they recorded five takes of a remake.

A number of rehearsals were taped first, with drums and vibraphone on track one of the four-track tape, and acoustic guitar on the second, all of which were performed simultaneously. One of the surviving rehearsal performances was eventually mixed in mono and included on 1996’s Anthology 2.

The five proper takes were recorded over the first nine minutes of the rehearsal. Only the first take was complete, and featured acoustic guitars, percussion, and vocals by Lennon and McCartney, all of which were recorded simultaneously onto track one of the four-track tape. It, too, was eventually released on Anthology 2.

The Beatles evidently thought this version inferior to the 27 April one, and they returned to take 11 from that night to overdub further instruments. Lennon added his lead vocals, with the tape running at 45 cycles per second instead of the normal 50. Upon playback, therefore, it sounded faster and higher.

Last updated: 22 June 2023
Recording: Eleanor Rigby
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  1. David Harvey Wednesday 29 June 2022

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