Mary Hopkin’s first two Apple singles, ‘Those Were The Days’ and ‘Goodbye’, had been hits, but the label was unsure what to release as her third.
Paul McCartney had been due to produce her second album after the completion of The Beatles’ Get Back album, but plans ran aground when the group began recording Abbey Road.
McCartney eventually selected the Doris Day classic ‘Que Sera, Sera (Whatever Will Be, Will Be)’, a choice which Hopkin didn’t care for. However, she agreed to record it, with the folkier ‘The Fields Of St Etienne’ on the b-side. Both songs were recorded at EMI Studios in between sessions for the Abbey Road album.
As far as I remember, it’s just Paul and Ringo. I don’t think he added anything else. It was all finished in that one afternoon.
Goldmine magazine, 1992
‘Que Sera, Sera’ had a basic track featuring McCartney on acoustic guitar and Ringo Starr on drums. McCartney overdubbed bass guitar and lead guitar, the latter fed through a Leslie speaker, and Starr added more drums. Hopkin performed vocals and acoustic guitar.
At the time, it was just one of Paul’s fun ideas. It was one sunny afternoon, we were sitting in Paul’s garden, and he said, ‘Do you like this song?’ I said, ‘Well, I used to sing it when I was three!’ And he said, ‘My dad likes it, let’s go and do it.’ And so Ringo came along; it was all done in an afternoon. I was sort of swept along with Paul’s enthusiasm, really.
By the time I was halfway through the backing vocals, I said, ‘This is awful.’ I really thought it was dreadful and I didn’t want it released.
Goldmine magazine, 1992
‘The Fields Of St Etienne’ featured Hopkin’s double-tracked lead vocals, acoustic guitars played by Hopkin and McCartney, bass guitar and drums by McCartney and Starr respectively, and woodwind and backing vocals by unknown performers.
That’s one of my all–time favourites. Beautiful song. Apparently, the first time it was released on an album, it was a different arrangement. It might’ve been the chap who did ‘Those Were The Days’, Richard something. Paul produced the other version, which was a bit over the top. And having been told that they were re–releasing it, I begged them to find the version I did with Benny and Graham. Which I think this is.
The single was due to have been released on 12 September as Apple 16, but was released only in France. It was also announced that ‘The Fields Of St Etienne’ would have been the a-side, with a 3 October release date in the UK, but this never happened.
Eventually, Hopkin’s third UK single was ‘Temma Harbour’, produced by Mickie Most and issued in January 1970.
Also on this day...
- 2016: Paul McCartney signs to Capitol Records
- 1968: George and Pattie Harrison fly to Greece
- 1966: Live: Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto, Canada
- 1965: Live: Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto, Canada
- 1963: Live: Odeon Cinema, Llandudno
- 1962: Live: Tower Ballroom, New Brighton, Wallasey
- 1962: Live: Majestic Ballroom, Birkenhead
- 1961: Live: St John’s Hall, Liverpool
- 1960: The Beatles’ first performance in Hamburg
Want more? Visit the Beatles history section.
Paul apparently also wrote some new sections to “Que Sera Sera”, the “There’s a song that I sing…”-bit, which is not in the original; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0mip6UNhWi8
My friend Ray Evans wrote the original lyric, I wish I could have asked him about this recording, but I had never heard it. I imagine he loved it, the beat was very much is favorite style. He did say however he loved the Pink Martini version, in a minor key, Very much!