The Beatles (White Album)

The Beatles (White Album) artworkRecorded: 30 May - 17 October 1968
Producers: George Martin, Chris Thomas, John Lennon, Paul McCartney
Engineers: Geoff Emerick, Peter Bown, Ken Scott, Barry Sheffield, Ken Townsend

Released: 22 November 1968 (UK), 25 November 1968 (US)

John Lennon: vocals, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, bass guitar, piano, organ, Hammond organ, harmonium, harmonica, tenor saxophone, drums, timpani, percussion, tape loops, effects, samples, handclaps
Paul McCartney: vocals, bass guitar, six-string bass guitar, piano, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, organ, Hammond organ, electric piano, flügelhorn, recorder, drums, tambourine, bongos, percussion, handclaps
George Harrison: vocals, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, bass guitar, Hammond organ, drums, percussion, samples, handclaps
Ringo Starr: vocals, drums, tambourine, bongos, castanets, sleigh bell, maracas, percussion, effects, handclaps
George Martin: piano, celesta, harmonium
Eric Clapton: lead guitar
Chris Thomas: piano, Mellotron, harpsichord, organ, electric piano
Yoko Ono: vocals, effects, samples, handclaps
Mal Evans: backing vocals, trumpet, handclaps
Pattie Harrison, Jackie Lomax, John McCartney: backing vocals, handclaps
Maureen Starkey, Francie Schwartz, Ingrid Thomas, Pat Whitmore, Val Stockwell, Irene King, Ross Gilmour, Mike Redway, Ken Barrie, Fred Lucas, various others: backing vocals
Jack Fallon, Henry Datyner, Eric Bowie, Norman Lederman, Ronald Thomas, Bernard Miller, Dennis McConnell, Lou Sofier, Les Maddox: violin
John Underwood, Keith Cummings, Leo Birnbaum, Henry Myerscough: viola
Eldon Fox, Reginald Kilbey, Frederick Alexander: cello
Leon Calvert, Stanley Reynolds, Ronnie Hughes, Derek Watkins, Freddy Clayton: trumpet
Leon Calvert: flügelhorn
Tony Tunstall: French horn
Ted Barker, Don Lang, Rex Morris, J Power, Bill Povey: trombone
Alf Reece: tuba
Dennis Walton, Ronald Chamberlain, Jim Chester, Rex Morris, Harry Klein: saxophone
Art Ellefson, Danny Moss, Derek Collins: tenor saxophone
Ronnie Ross, Harry Klein, Bernard George: baritone saxophone
Raymond Newman, David Smith: clarinet
Uncredited: 12 violins, three violas, three cellos, three flutes, clarinet, three saxophones, two trumpets, two trombones, horn, vibraphone, double bass, harp


The Beatles' ninth original UK album, and their 15th in the United States, was their first double-length release. Commonly known as the White Album, the self-titled collection of 30 songs stands as a majestic cornucopia of styles, born from one of the group's most creative periods.

Although financially secure, critically and commercially acclaimed, and assured as figureheads of popular music, by the summer of 1968 The Beatles were in a degree of turmoil. The previous year they'd achieved possibly their crowning glory in Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, and suffered their first major artistic failure in the Magical Mystery Tour television film.

By 1968 The Beatles' world had changed immeasurably from their early days. Having stopped touring in 1966, they were set free to explore the possibilities from inside the studio, and began enjoying the time that their fortunes allowed. Their musical output may have slowed from the mid-1960s, but their creativity was as strong as ever.

After Sgt Pepper changed the world, the world keenly awaited The Beatles' next step. They had released just the six-track Magical Mystery Tour EP and the Lady Madonna single since then, and there was widespread speculation in the press that they were a spent force.

While recording the album, the group was in the process of launching the multimedia business Apple Corps, while coping with various upheavals including drug busts, changing relationships and substance abuse.

The Beatles were old hands at dealing with such pressure. They turned away from the elaborate excesses of Sgt Pepper, recording instead a simple collection of 30 songs under an even simpler name: The Beatles.

George Martin later claimed he had wanted the group to omit the album's weaker songs and focused instead on producing a solid single-disc release.

I thought we should probably have made a very, very good single album rather than a double. But they insisted. I think it could have been made fantastically good if it had been compressed a bit and condensed. A lot of people I know think it's still the best album they made. I later learnt that by recording all those songs they were getting rid of their contract with EMI more quickly.
George Martin

Ringo Starr agreed with the sentiment.

There was a lot of information on the double album, but I agree that we should have put it out as two separate albums: the 'White' and the 'Whiter' albums.
Ringo Starr

Despite its faults as a collection, Paul McCartney stood by the album, saying that the wide variety of songs was a major part of its appeal.

I think it was a very good album. It stood up, but it wasn't a pleasant one to make. Then again, sometimes those things work for your art. The fact that it's got so much on it is one of the things that's cool about it. The songs are very varied. I think it's a fine album.

I don't remember the reaction. Now I release records and I watch to see who likes it and how it does. But with The Beatles, I can't ever remember scouring the charts to see what number it had come in at. I assume we hoped that people would like it. We just put it out and got on with life. A lot of our friends liked it and that was mainly what we were concerned with. If your mates liked it, the boutiques played it and it was played wherever you went - that was a sign of success for us.

Paul McCartney

82 responses on “The Beatles (White Album)

  1. Colonel Salt

    Colonel Salt doesn’t like The White Album. No cohesiveness, no one getting along, Revolution 9, Glass Onion, Piggies, Yoko. A real downer record. Second rate. It’s like they used up all their good juju on Sgt. Pepper and Magical Mystery Tour and then a slow slide into decay. Very sad.

    1. McLerristarr

      How can you call Abbey Road part of the slide into decay? It’s one of the greatest albums of all time. In my opinion, so is the White Album and Let It Be. Although I don’t like Revolution 9, most people probably agree there, however it is… interesting.

      1. Jan

        The Beatles original White Album from England had the 4 Beatles and Yoko Ono standing naked on the front cover. My friend was a stewardess for an airline company at the time and picked up one of the albums before they were either removed from the shelves, sold out or both. I saw the album and it strikes me as odd that no one ever mentions this piece of information. I wonder why? We all know that Europe, and that includes England is more comfortable with nudity than the US. And I doubt that will ever change. I maybe dating myself but has anyone else seen this particular cover? That’s why they call it the white album. The original picture was removed.

        1. Wingwiper

          I remember it as I bought it here in the states and I think only about 10,000 copies were released before the U.S. banned it. The front had the four Beatles with Yoko and if I remember correctly they had fig leaves over their private area, unlike the LP “Two Virgins” where it was just John and Yoko and no fig leaves.

          Do you have any links for this?

          1. Paul Ramone

            The Beatles albums were always released in Australia after their UK and US release. Sometimes it could be weeks even months before you could get a new album. So long that bands could independently import a new Beatles album, learn the songs, and incorporate them into there live shows before the official release. My cousin worked in a record shop in Sydney that received several boxes of the original White Album with original art work. By the time the shop received them – by boat from England – they had already been withdrawn from UK shops. Consequently my cousin was instructed to throw them out. Instead he took them home and put them in the garden shed. They only surfaced after he died last year. Anybody want one? $$$

            1. Rob

              YES. I have collected every copy of the white album available an even have the purple White vinyl white album framed with both Lp’s infront of their pics an opened sleeve. Please contact me. Thx

            2. Joe Post author

              Hi all, sorry, this isn’t a place for trading records. I’ve left Paul R’s comment up because it’s an interesting story (whether true or not), but I cannot facilitate sales here.

        2. Caroline

          Yes! I was a young teen in Ohio when the White Album came out.
          There was an underground newspaper that published a nude photo of the Fab Four. It said this was the cover they wanted, but that it had been censored. The article stated that some of these albums were distributed, then quickly taken from the shelves. It was decided to leave the cover blank; thus calling it the White Album. I have never heard of this story corroborated anywhere until now! The photo I saw was just of the boys, not including Yoko. I remember it quite clearly, because I had never before seen a naked man!

      2. Bob


        If ‘Abbey Road’ was one of the greatest albums of all time, it wouldn’t have “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer” and “Octopuss’ Garden” on it, which get my personal vote as the two very worst songs the band ever recorded. But it DOES have the greatest side of an album that a band ever recorded (obviously side two).

    2. dodgo

      For those four songs that you don’t like there’s 20 good songs on this double album. The point of this album was to be loose and genuine while sgt. peppers was self-conscious and self-indulgent. Sgt. Peppers had amazing production, but most of the compositions were on the weak side. Revolver and The White album has better songs IMO.

      1. Joseph Brush

        Slide into decay? LOL!!!
        There are numerous excellent songs on the White Album.
        It is different than the previous albums which was the main quality of the Beatles. Progression.

      2. Frank

        What I love about the white album is that it is chaos. Going back to rubber soul, it’s similar to revolver, which is similar to pepper, which is similar to magical mystery tour, which is similar to….yellow submarine.
        The white album is so flamboyant, from the cover to the energy, to the hate, to the love, to the length to the revolutions. It makes the world explode.

    3. LOMAN

      Magical Mystery Tour is their worst batch of songs in my opinion (still great stuff, it is The Beatles for Christ’s sske!). Of course, you can’t count that second side of singles and b-sides on Magical Mystery Tour as part of the original e.p.

  2. LOMAN

    I gotta disagree with those that suggest that The White Album should have been cut down to a single album. I think they should have added more songs to the record! They could have left “Not Guilty”, a Harrison composition, on the record and they could have put his other songs “Sour Milk Sea” and “Circles” on there as well. The McCartney track “Etcetera” (later recorded by the Black Dyke Mills Band) and the Lennon track “What’s the New Mary Jane” could have been left on as well in my opinion! The thing that makes The White Album one of my absolute favorites, and indeed, one of the best albums in history is it’s very speratic and bi-polar, if-you-will, nature. It’s up and down and back and forth, there’s so much on there but everything is completely different. The album successfully never repeates itself.

    1. brian

      I don’t count myself among those that would reduce the “The Beatles” lp down to one disc but obviously Revolution 9 is it’s most disposable track. While it does make for an interesting listen, it’s quite indulgent, certainly not musical, and makes me feel the album isn’t truly four sides of Beatle content but more like three and three quarters.

  3. Karl

    Has anyone ever heard of a Beatles White Album having the nude picture of John & Yoko holding a newspaper in front of them on the inside cover? The picture has only their lower half’s covered. I have a Korean label double LP that has that picture in it. I had my Brother, who was stationed in Korea at the time, send me albums from the PX as they were only a $1.00 to purchase.

    I have read a lot of stories, but never anything about this. I do know that John & Yoko’s album, Two Virgins, was released at the same time, with similar pictures.

    So I’m wondering, do I have something that is quite rare? I believe the records themselves are produced in Mono.

    1. John

      I was 15 or 16 when the album came out. The album had a nude picture of John Lennon and Yoko Ono. It was quickly pulled from the stores and replaced with the white album. It was even said then that whoever bought the original album it would be worth a lot of money.

    2. Will

      The only nude Beatle on the White Album is Paul, on the poster (a collage by Richard Hamilton, who designed the album cover). It’s a small photo near the middle, left of the photo of Ringo dancing with Elizabeth Taylor. There is a vertical line running through it to hide Paul’s dangly bits. You could still see his pubes though. On later printings the pubic hair was obscured.

    3. Matt

      The brown version of the White Album, with the unique photo of John and Yoko, is now posted on Ebay; listing number 301817150597. Just put that number in the search bar and hit return.

  4. beatleKen

    i’ve been readin that NICKY HOPKINS who did play on the REVOLUTION single also played on various other songs on the White Album and also on the HEY JUDE single. Someone needs to check on this.
    On his site it also says he started playin sessions startin with SPLHCB.

  5. robert

    The thing that makes the White Album interesting for me (beyond the incredible music) is that the production techniques are pretty much just as complex as Pepper and Mystery Tour – the songs however are more straight forward.

    There’s tons of orchestra, horns, weird instruments and mixing tricks, and sound effects on the White Album yet it “appears” to be a simpler album.

    Listen to the horns on Revolution 1 – the strings on Piggies or at the end of Glass Onion – elaborate stuff yet used sparingly.

    It’s very sophisticated rock album

  6. robert

    Exactly, Eyes, there’s a ton of complex yet sparingly used detail on that album.

    Almost every track has something on it that makes one think “Wow, that’s a little bit more involved than I first realized”

    The White Album, as great as it is, may be the most under appreciated album out there – and not just of the Beatles’ but in music overall.

    1. Francisco Javier Gil Vidal

      An absolutely incredible touch of production genius which goes almost unnoticed because it only involves an ordinary electric guitar; Carlos Santana would make it famous a decade later in compositions such as “Europe”, but in 1968 it must have been very difficult to carry out. What I’m talking about is this: in “Back in the USSR”, after the second “Beach Boys” bridge, Paul sings the lengthy lines

      “Show me ’round your snow peaked mountains way down South, take me to your daddy’s farm.
      Let me hear your balalaika’s ringing out, come and keep your comrade warm.”

      And, all along, A SINGLE guitar note is kept ringing with no interruption, no repeated strumming, no faltering, no nothing! As if a guitar were an electric organ you can press a key from and keep it ringing for ever! I find that little trick a wondrous feat of 1968 recording technique. And, yes, it is so spare, so lean, so unpretentious! The White Album keeps me in awe and amazement after more than four decades since my first listen!

  7. MeanMrs.Mustard

    Anyone know why it was self-titled?
    My biggest beef with this album is that the songs don’t sound very “together”– so many of them sound like a lead singer and his “backing band.” Not that there aren’t songs on this album that are group efforts!

    1. Nicole

      I know that this was originally going to be titled “A Doll’s House” but another band had something similar already. My guess and from what I’ve read is that to make it contrast Sgt Pepper (with the cover art) that they made a minimalist cover design and to go along with it, they named it after themselves. I don’t really know why it’s self titled, I more so know why it’s not it’s original name!

  8. Sara

    I saw a video of John and Yoko staring into each others eyes during the white album sessions, but I can no longer find it.. If anyone has/knows where it is, could you possibly post the link?

  9. John Day

    I have a Beatles double LP Album titled The Beatles. It is in a white cover with the songs listed on the inside left side and the pictures of the Beatles on the right side. On the outside of the white cover is printed The Beatles. Also, the number C1-46443 is printed on the inside left side. On the back is printed 1968 Original sound Recordings made by EMI Records Ltd. 1968 EMI Records Ltd. The two records have the label Capitol. The records have all the original songs. I was under the impression the label was Apple. Do I have a remake or a bootleg copy?

  10. sounds suite

    just trying to find out or maybe confirm some info about the copy of the white album i have here..
    heres some details-
    SWBO 101
    number on front – 0075953
    so from what i can tell this is a second pressing on capitol, pressed in LA.
    the titles on the label have all been corrected except for the “c” in raccoon, can anyone give any info on when the c was corrected?? any other info anyone can tell me about this copy?

  11. Will

    Ringo did NOT agree with George Martin that the White Album should have been condensed down to one disk. Watch the video of the Anthology–he is clearly being sarcastic when he says, “There was a lot of information on the double album, but I agree that we should have put it out as two separate albums: the ‘White’ and the ‘Whiter’ albums.” Even when read, that statement oozes sarcasm.

  12. Velvet Hand

    I love the white album so much that I wish they’d continued in the same way and put out a few more albums of this type. They may have quarrelled a lot while they made it, but to proceed like this (instead of lunging into the Get Back fiasco), allow for solo output, and maybe put in a few breaks, should have been possible… sigh…

  13. Bill

    Actually, this album is much more self-indulgent than Pepper. Although there’s some great music on this album, there’s also a lot of second-rate material here too, which continued with the Get Back/Let It Be sessions (not to say that there aren’t good songs on that album either). I agree with George Martin’s assessment that at least 1/3 of this album should’ve been junked & more time & effort spent on the better songs. When Paul goes from writing songs like For No One, Eleanor Rigby, Here, There And Everywhere and She’s Leaving Home to schlock like Why Don’t We Do It In The Road, you know something’s wrong. I was a kid when this came out, & not knowing anything of their internal problems at the time, I was still struck at the lack of cohesiveness of this album. It just doesn’t sound like a group album. He’ll, the re-configured earlier Capitol LP’s sounded more coherent than this. It’s very schizophrenic. If Revolution 9 isn’t self-indulgent, I don’t know what is. That being said, there’s some good material here. There’s also a morbid curiosity because you can tell that this was the beginning of the end for them as a group, & that comes through in the music.

    For those of you post-Baby Boomers who didn’t grow up with the Cold War mentality, this might not gel for you. ’68 was a bad year, especially in the US. That was the year the country came close to a collective nervous breakdown, with the twin King/Kennedy assasinations, the riots that followed & the Tet Offensive (which is when things in Vietnam REALLY started going bad), just to name a few things.
    In the midst of that scenario, here come The Beatles with a new single & album that just by some of the song titles alone, sound a little bit subversive, mainly Revolution, Back In The USSR & Happiness Is A Warm Gun. It was a violent time back then & some people were wondering what point the boys were trying to make. With hindsight being 20/20, we know now that the songs weren’t subversive, but back then with the Cold War paranoia, some folks weren’t so sure.
    John said “count me out” in the single version of Revolution, but it’s still a very harsh, angry-sounding song to the casual listener. I remember some folks trying to make a Lennon/Lenin connection too. It all seems silly now, but back then a lot of folks took that kind of stuff seriously.

    The Manson connection the following year didn’t help this LP’s reputation either. Funnily enough, I don’t remember any controversy surrounding the next album released (Abbey Road), aside from the silly Paul is dead thing…

    1. mainer555

      Hello, I don’t know if anyone might ever read this but, I was 9 years old and my sister 14 when this album came out. We lived in Maryland about 20 miles out side of Washington, DC since 1962. My father worked the federal government with NIH and that area as well as the rest of the country and the world for that matter was a far different place than now. I remember all those revolutionary times in the USA. JFK/RFK/MLK assassinations, the riots downtown, the Vietnam War, the generation gap and culture clash and Watergate and Nixon were just on the horizon. I remember when my sister bought her first Beatles album in 64 and times had really changed. It was my childhood and it was real. And everyone was charged up! It did not matter which side you were on – it was all very charged up !! The summer of love, then Neil Armstrong, Woodstock it was one sonic boom after another. Just go back and look at the newsreels.

  14. Bill

    Actually, the more I’ve thought about it over the years, the more I’ve thought about this scenario: The best of this album should’ve been released as a single LP, while the lesser songs should’ve been placed on side 2 of the Yellow Submarine soundtrack (they weren’t released that far apart), & George Martin’s score should’ve been scrapped. He could’ve always put it out on his own, like he did with his earlier Beatle-related material. I didn’t know of anyone at the time who ever played side 2 of that LP…

    1. SouthofReality

      Interesting concept. Side 1: “Yellow Submarine” Side 2: “Why don’t we do it in the Road?” Hmmm not completely sure that those two mesh really well.

  15. Bill

    In fact, out of the original US LP’s in my collection, the only 2 I never kept were Yellow Submarine & Hey Jude (aka The Beatles Again), because I thought they were both rip-offs. In the case of the Hey Jude LP, I already had all those singles (which I preferred, since the majority of them were in mono anyway), so why buy the LP? The only US single I didn’t have was If I Fell b/w And I Love Her. Hell, I’ve even got The Beatles Introduce New Songs, which is an extremely rare 1964 promo-only Capitol EP, plus the 1-sided Dialogue From Let It Be promo 45. At one time, I had Vee-Jay 498, with the mis-spelled “Beattles” (still kick myself for selling it)…

  16. trev

    Say what you want about this album but there is more variation of musical styles than on almost any other album I have ever heard and that includes some various artists compilation albums. In the UK this album appeared for about 3 weeks in the new musical express singles chart. (it was actually at that time a best sellers chart but album rarely sold enough to enter the top 30) . I think it appeared at 11 and dropped to 18 then 30 before disappearing. I agree that a single album would be great but I have tried to do this personally and trying to keep it to about 40 odd minutes is impossible, Ob la di would have made a fantastic Xmas single and would have saved us from that awful marmalade version which topped the charts in Jan 1969. Lose revolution 9 put Goodnight maybe on B side of Obladi single, lose why don’t we do it. and wild honey pie but that still leaves far too much for one LP. Another single could have followed in March instead of Get Back but when ever did the beatles hold tracks back like this. Its great in retrospect to say all this. If they had done this we would probably be saying why didn’t they do a doulble album. Just think of all the NEW stuff which would have been on bootleg or anthology…..

    1. Francisco Javier Gil Vidal

      Honestly and modestly, I think you people keep on making the same old mistake of butchering a fully organic masterpiece and examining the excised bits, to conclude they’re individually great / OK / crap. It’s like disemboweling a beautiful woman to scrutinise her spleen!

      “Why don’t we do it in the road” is bad? It follows so seamlessly after the lingering violin of “Don’t pass my by” (in turn an individually questionable song that segues admirably in the “Westerm” theme previously sketched by “Rocky Racoon”). The song’s stark yet quite subtle percussion-cum-drum kit intro resolutely takes over where the cowboy fiddle morosely left. Feel the complete change in tone, the voluntary brutality and sleazy sensuality, the morbid, fanatical obsession, the oozing sex …. And, in the technical department, try and SING the way Macca does, repeating the otherwise lame words in an UTTERLY DIFFERENT, ABSOLUTELY FANTASTIC way with every new iteration, experience the orgasmic animality, the single-minded sense of purpose and striving towards a goal…..

      And, how do you stop such a train flung into a tremendous, frantic course? The only way you can: with a CRASH! And what then? A fraction of a second’s worth silence, and THE VERY SAME beastly Mc Cartney, in an astonishig feat of transvestism, with the mellowest of voices, launches the schmaltzy “I will”, as if the previous brutality had never happened! Sex is transmuted, from the stern carnality of “Why don’t we do it in the road”, to the emasculated “Neil Sedaka-ism” of “I Will”, with no transition, and BY THE SAME ARTIST! You really get the impression of a wolf in sheep’s clothing here! And it was quite fitting that the insincere Mc Cartney performed this double stunt of posing and pretending …. only to lead into the ultra-sincere vulnerability of Lennon’s “Julia”. And, after this sonic treat, one is struck by the deepest of awes….

      The White Album is also The Wise Album, the ultimate “concept” album if by such we understand, not banging around variations on a theme to propel a story, as heralded by The Who’s “Tommy” (not perchance from the same year), but an organic integration of disparate members into a harmonious, LIVING whole.

  17. robert

    Here’s an opinion I’ve come to regarding the White Album. If you watch the interviews of John and Paul announcing Apple, which is right after India and during the White Album time, you’ll see John saying how regardless of the value TM – everyone came back more relaxed and with clearer minds.

    The you have the demos for the White Album made at George’s house – which are the songs written in India which make up most of the White Album.

    Looking at the John’s songs on the White Album – it seems to me that he was about to emerge as dominant songwriting force again. The biting rock attack of songs like Glass Onion, Revolution 1, Everybody’s Got Something To Hide, etc – the return to gentleness as in Julia, Good Night, even Cry Baby Cry – throw in Yer Blues, Sexy Sadie, Bungalow Bill – it seems to me John was back in strength – not full not complete but returning.

    What happened?

    Yoko and heroin. Even though he’d “started up” with Yoko before India, it wasn’t until the return that he ditched Cynthia and went full time Yoko. That’s where the heroin use came in as well.

    That ended John’s role for a long time. Consider how John’s writing, playing etc, would have emerged if he’d kept on the path he was on after India. More relaxed and ready to write and play. They returned ready to work more – thus all the Apple announcements etc.

    A close examination of the White Album shows where John was headed, – amazing songwriting – heroin derailed it. Sad.

    Just my view of things

    1. James Ferrell

      I’ve thought the same thing too. John wrote a lot of songs for the White Album and they were strong. Not so for the next project Get Back/Let It Be. Maybe it was his involvement with Yoko or heroin or both that led to the decline.

      On the other hand, his contributions to Abbey Road, whose recording began immediately after the Let It Be sessions ended, were strong. His leftovers from India (Polythene Pam, Mean Mister Mustard) were good and his new songs (Because, Come Together, I Want You, Sun King) were at least as good. So maybe the Let It Be era slump was just a slump.

      1. Francisco Javier Gil Vidal

        “Era”? For Christ’s sake, that’s a three-month period! And the Beatles had committed the total MADNESS of secluding themselves in a chilly barren film studio in early January 1969, a mere FORTY DAYS after the release of the mammoth White Album, on November the 22nd! (forty-seven years ago today, by the way). It’s as if they had set themselves into masochistic mode! They really gave themselves no time to rest, in one of the strangest moves by ANY band EVER…..

        Returnig to Lennon and the alleged “weaknesses” of this supposedly infertile “era” (during which he got divorced and re-married, in circumstances which would have stifled the creativity of lesser artists), we must remember before decrying his “stumbling creative powers” that he somehow managed to compose “Don’t let me down”, “Dig a pony” and “The ballad of John & Yoko” (apart from improvising the magnificient “Give peace a chance” throwaway), in my book three excellent, highly original songs, during this “barren” period.

        Not bad for a “derailed heroin junkie”!

        1. Joe Post author

          In 1969 Lennon was possibly more active than in any other year, apart perhaps from the peak of Beatlemania. The sheer amount of stuff he did with Yoko in that time (films, recordings, peace campaigns etc) was pretty remarkable, even if the actual output isn’t to everyone’s taste. It’s a shame he didn’t devote the same amount of energy to The Beatles.

    2. Art

      I think the opposite view has some validity: Yoko and heroin were s much symptoms as causes of his disaffection – from the Beatles as well as his status quo generally. There is ample evidence and “scholarship so to speak that John’s process of checking out began way before the White Album. He’d said so himself – not in this conclusive form but in effect about what he and or the group might do next – in contemporaneous interviews in the mid-sixties at the latest. One think I think you can say is the dissociation, whatever its causes, robbed him of his strongest asset beyond his own talent, which was the collaboration with Paul.

    3. also-Paul

      After research and considerations for years I agree that the main reason for the split-up of The Beatles was Yoko (there were other reasons, too: the death of Brian Epstein, the low esteem of Georges compositions by John and Paul, and eventually Alan Klein).
      Yoko was selfish enough to want John for herself, most probably also as a tool to boost her own career, jealous of the group – and step by step she sabotaged the mood in the group completely.
      How can one talk reasonably to John (e.g. “C´mon, we never had our women in the studio, so what´s up with Yoko, simply leave her out”) when she´s always at his side? She was very intelligent and focused on her ultimate target to split up the group. Heroin was only one component …
      To the “White Album”:
      Sure there are great songs – and less great songs. But even the 2nd rate songs are much better than the bulk of releases by other groups in these days – and the diversity of this double album is one of its major strengths. There is one track – Revolution 9 (which is 99% influenced by Yoko) – that I wouldn´t miss at all … and I would prefer if George´s “Not Guilty” or perhaps “You Know My Name” would be there instead, but all other songs, even “Wild Honey Pie”, have their value …
      I´m a musician and composer myself, so I know a bit about creativiness … the way they did it is essentially connected with the eventual results. If they had concentrated on a single album from the beginning, many songs would never have been recorded at all – and the remaining ones wouldn´t be any better instead.
      I agree that all but 4 songs on the “Yellow Submarine” album (especially the back side) could be substituted by the lesser tracks from “The Beatles” – but all you would get is a definitely weak album! It is a difference if for instance “Glass Onion” follows “Back in the USSR” and “Dear Prudence” – or is heard between “Wild Honey Pie”, “Cry Baby Cry” and “Revolution 9” – to name some lesser songs.
      So I think it´s fine like it is – I don´t want to miss it.

    4. Bob

      Robert, I agree with you that ‘The White Album’ showed John emerging as a major songwriting force again, and I actually believe, after listening to all of the Beatles’ albums in succession according to how they were released, that it has aged the best of all the group’s work. It’s fresh, diverse and covers the widest spectrum of musical styles the band ever attempted.

      To be honest (and I know I’m in the minority opinion on this), the album that I find the most overrated of the band’s collective work is ‘Abbey Road’. Yes, I know the second side is magnificent from start-to-finish, but side one is VERY erratic and contains what may very well be the two worst songs the band ever recorded (“Maxwell’s Silver Hammer” and “Octopuss’ Garden”) as well as a below par Lennon song with simplistic, weak lyrics (“I Want You (She’s So Heavy)”). In my opinion, if it wasn’t for the twin magnificence of “Come Together” and “Something”, side one might be THE worst side of an album the group ever made. I truly believe that.

  18. Art

    Regarding the group contretemps over releasing (or deciding not to release) Revolution 1 as a single, it really would have been far out and Solomonic to have put out both versions on the same single. Although I think the uptempo Revolution is the more commercial (and indeed I like it better) it would have been mind-blowing to make it the B side. Wind down Rev 1 with the fade out, then flip it over and that screaming riff and screaming scream, hello! [Cross-posting this to the Revolution page as the decision on which version was suitable for the single is also discussed there.]

  19. Torch Corpses

    Even though Yoko really deserves nothing but pure contempt for her irresponsibility, shallow selfishness and underhanded motives(she’s nothing but scum)…she wasn’t really the root of the issues. The Beatles were really 2 different groups. Pre and Post August 1966. When you don’t play live anymore, you’re not really a “band”. At that point it’s more of a “collective”…an artists co-op. Which is great and cool, too…But it’s a different thing. Then Epstien kills himself and thats really the end. I mean, you can easily see it in their faces after hearing the news of it on national TV in September 67′. Lennon was maybe the most brilliant and wise dude who ever lived so, he’s not easily fooled. But I think Yoko was his way to get out of this lie he felt he was in. Sad but he would found a way with or without her to quit The Beatles.

    1. Rigby's quartet

      Or how about this: John simply couldn’t keep up with Paul’s output and enthusiasm, not willing to try and keep up with him or God forbid let Paul be the “leader” John once was. This is the conclusion from the excellent Rolling Stone 2009 piece titled Why The Beatles Broke Up.

      Here is the last page from the article but I highly recommend it from the beginning.

  20. Hammer 109

    The White Album is the first Beatles album I really listened to repeatedly. After all these years, looking at it again, my feeling is that, while the album as a whole is uneven (hardly an original thought), Lennon wrote 4 or 5 of his best works – and the best Beatles songs ever – for this album. I’m So Tired, Glass Onion, Julia, Dear Prudence, Yer Blues. There are a lot of musicians who make a very nice living but never come to close to that in an entire career. Really incredible.

  21. Beatle Chris

    I love Art’s thought about releasing Revolution and Revolution 1 on the A and B-side of a single. That’s a Beatle fan thinking like a Beatle. That would have been one of the coolest singles ever. Regarding the White Album, I’ll say again, these people commenting that it’s not their best work or that a lot of songs should have been left off, should have their Beatle albums taken away from them. What dumb thought! As Paul said, “It’s the Beatles bloody White Album, shut up.” I agree, please shut up, unless you’re praising it for it’s absolute greatness!!!

  22. Sam

    Wow, I guess most of you were either not around then, or lacking in musical understanding.

    The White Album is one of the legends in sheer brilliance and majesty.

    There is no reason for ridiculous banter.

    There are a few minor songs, that aren’t great, but on the whole, it is fantastic.

    Of course, it should have been a double.

    The Beatles chose this, and they, like any band, should have the final say.

  23. Dan Diamond

    I think most of the songs on the white album are excellent and in fact, Why Don’t We do it in the Road is one of my favorites (one of Paul’s great “belting it out” songs). But I agree with many of the previous posts here… the album would be better without Revolution 9, Good Night, Wild Honey Pie, and in my opinion Bungalow Bill too. I always skip over these when listening to the white album.

  24. andre

    i like the album a lot! regardless Revolution 9, Wild honey pie and Good Night. I still think it is great work! the last great moment of John Lennon with the Beatles.

  25. Coco

    The Beatles were so wise. After listening to this album all the way through, I feel like I found something out about the universe that I hadn’t known before. I’m not sure what, but I feel like they knew something that most people didn’t, and they taught it through their music. Every time I listen to this I feel like I learn something new about myself.

  26. Graham Paterson

    One of the greatest albums of all time and near the top of the double album list. I got this for Christmas in 1980, just a couple of weeks after the tragic murder of John Lennon.Whilst there are good arguments both ways on the should it have been a single or double album debate; I favor that the band members got it right over George Martin in releasing it as a double. From its cover in obvious contrast to Sgt Pepper and the sprawling eclectic brilliance of the songs make this utterly unique.I love all the tracks though some like to pick through citing ones in there opinion that should not have been their. We see Paul McCartney as the contrasting rocker/ balladeer and sometime country singer at his best with Back In The USSR,Martha My Dear,Blackbird,Rocky Raccoon, Birthday, Mother Natures Son, Honey Pie and one of my favorites the ripsnorting Helter Skelter.John Lennon is in transition from the dreamweaver period to the sometime harsh realities of his first solo album two years later. We see a bit of both of these sides of him on this and the results are brilliant; Dear Prudence,Glass Onion,The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill,Happiness Is A Warm Gun,Im So Tired,Julia,Yer Blues,Everybodys Got Something To Hide Except Me and My Monkey,Sexy Sadie,Cry Baby Cry and Revolutions 1 and 9. George Harrison is also heading towards his solo masterpiece in1970 with songs like While My Guitar Gently Weeps,(one of his best) and Long,Long,Long. Ringos Dont Pass Me By is a gem. Before I forget Why Dont We Do It In The Road? by McCartney, great song. I cant help but like the catchy but sometime derided Ob- La- Di, Ob– La Da.Then there is Good Night. Despite the growing dysfunction in the band and them not always playing on each others songs, the White Album works because the songs are brilliant and the musicianship of the highest order. Revolver is brilliant at the time of there perhaps peak in unity , this is brilliant despite the growing disunity.This after all was the Beatles.

  27. robert

    I love this album – when it came out no one knew what to think- we’d just gotten used to Sgt Pepper/MMT Beatles and now there were all normal looking (sort of) again. I’ve said this in forum but repeat again – what is fascinating to me about The White Album is that if you take only John’s songs – you have an amazing album. I don’t think it’s as strong as just Paul songs – but John’s songs on this album all by themselves create an exceptionally strong record.

  28. Bongo

    You folks with the US version, should get on Ebay asap and get an original UK 1968 “Top Loading” White album before they get insanely expensive. Stereo or Mono, your choice. Try to get as low as a number as you can. Why buy the reissues when you could have the real thing!

  29. MyValentine

    I love the White-Album ! Sure as a double – and as Paul said “It´s already been sold, so that´s it”.

    But …. I would enjoy it even more without Revolution #9 (despite it´s historical status as the best selling “avantgarde composition” ever) – and have rather instead “Not Guitly”, “Junk”, “You Know My Name” or even “What´s The New Mary Jane” which is at least funny.

    To start an interesting discussion, two hypothetical questions:

    1) Which songs would you like to leave out of the DoLP – and substitute with others ?

    2) Which songs would you leave out for a SINGLE LP “The Beatles” (facing the fact that there would never have been a 2nd patch “Whiter Album” as Ringo said) ?

    Please when listing remember that the running time still has to be in the usual 40 to 45 min per LP.

  30. johnsain

    I think The Beatles White Album is their best and likely best double album of all time as sales figures attest to,…however,…if it were issued as a single disc, it would have to be considered the greatest record ever!…I’ve often thought about this when considering questions about the Beatles best albums.

    For me, it would all rest upon being anchored by Hey Jude/Revolution being on the album, and not on the Hey Jude album (just a collection of singles from different eras). Hey Jude/Revolution were done right about the same time and were released less than 2 months prior to the White Album.

    Here is the album they way I’d have liked to have seen it (kept it at a reasonable and standard single album time length – tough decisions on which songs to select!) released in November 1968, in the following order:

    Side 1: Hey Jude / Dear Prudence / I Will / Sexy Sadie / Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da / Cry Baby Cry / Back in the U.S.S.R.
    Side 2: Revolution / While My Guitar Gently Weeps / Mother Nature’s Son / Blackbird / Glass Onion / Helter Skelter / Happiness is a Warm Gun

  31. Roland St Germain

    Ah, the White Album – I was one of the first kids in the neighborhood to get a copy. I would bring it around to friends’ houses to play it, and in most cases, it got the same reaction – they couldn’t make it past the first two sides. This could be called “Beatles Overload” – it was too much material to handle at one sitting; with an average playing time of 23 minutes per side, it was difficult for most kids to digest at one time. There were exceptions, particularly those who played an instrument, but even then those were few and far between.
    I have to admit that it took a bit of effort to get through it all. The nearly flat engineering made the record sound more like a polished demo than a final mastered edition, and the “cheap shot” of playing with the panning controls for certain instruments; maybe that helped to create a “Whoa!” moment for people who were listening to it on acid, but as someone who had no use for that kind of chemical entertainment, any sense of wonder from such an uninspired audio trick escaped me.
    Still, it was a “new Beatles album,” and for this 15 year-old, that’s all that mattered. None of us were aware of the internal tensions within the group, and if someone had told us any of that, we wouldn’t have cared. What was important was that scores of garage band players (like me) had to hunker down and figure out what we had to do in order to make our instruments sound like those of The Beatles. Of course, since we didn’t have any of their gadgets, it rarely happened.
    In retrospect, there were elements of the White Album that reflected some garage band tendencies for those of us who sought them. Here’s one for ya: get to the guitar solo towards the end of “Yer Blues”, and pan to the opposite channel – there you will be able to witness some truly sloppy jamming! Is it any wonder why George Martin felt the need to try to drown out that the solo on the other channel? This is a testament to his ability to achieve the audio version of “polishing a turd.”
    All the foregoing having been said, it’s still a pretty good album.

  32. johnleninthecommie

    Okay, I’ll take a stab. This could have been a rocking affair and would’ve achieved God-like status if the weaker tracks hadn’t watered down its potential. It would’ve been better than Revolver (which is their absolute best, IMO). In fact, it would arguably be the greatest album of all time.

    Side One:
    Back In the USSR / Dear Prudence / While My Guitar Gently Weeps / Happiness Is A Warm Gun / I’m So Tired / Blackbird / Everybody’s Got Something To Hide (Except For Me And My Monkey)

    Side Two:
    Birthday / Yer Blues / Savoy Truffle / Sexy Sadie / Cry Baby Cry / Helter Skelter / Julia


    Hey Jude / Glass Onion
    Revolution / I Will
    Ob-La-Di-Ob-La-Da / Long, Long, Long

  33. David

    This was final album where Lennon still cared about being a Beatle. His 1969 output and best songs were about or inspired by Yoko Ono. Because The Ballad Of JOhn And Yoko and Dont Let Me Down throw in Come Together and the rest of Johns output for 1969 was not very good. Throw in the fact that Harrison couldn’t record his best for with mostly Paul holding him. Back and you can see. Beatles. Didn’t have a chance going forward sad to this day.

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