Condemned upon its release for perceived references to heroin injection, ‘Fixing A Hole’ was in fact a tribute to marijuana written by Paul McCartney.

People have told me that ‘Fixing A Hole’ is all about junk, you know, this guy, sitting there fixing a hole in his arm. If you’re a junkie sitting in a room fixing a hole then that’s what it will mean to you, but when I wrote it I meant if there’s a crack or the room is uncolourful, then I’ll paint it.
Paul McCartney
The Observer magazine, 26 November 1967

It has also been claimed that the song is about repairs undertaken by Paul McCartney on High Park, his farmhouse on the west coast of Scotland, although this is untrue.

It was much later that I ever got round to fixing the roof on the Scottish farm; I never did any of that until I met Linda. People just make it up! They know I’ve got a farm, they know it has a roof, they know I might be given to handyman tendencies so it’s a very small leap for mankind… to make up the rest of the story.
Paul McCartney
Many Years From Now, Barry Miles

In truth the song, like ‘Got To Get You Into My Life’, was “another ode to pot”; it explored the joys of allowing one’s mind to wander, and the freedom from being told what to do.

It was the idea of me being on my own now, able to do what I want. If I want I’ll paint the room in a colourful way… I was living now pretty much on my own in Cavendish Avenue, and enjoying my freedom and my new house and the salon-ness of it all. It’s pretty much my song, as I recall. I like the double meaning of ‘If I’m wrong I’m right where I belong’.
Paul McCartney
Many Years From Now, Barry Miles

LSD also played a part in the song’s genesis. McCartney was the last Beatle to try the drug, in 1966.

Around that time, when I closed my eyes, instead of there being blackness there was a little blue hole. It was as if something needed patching. I always had the feeling that if I could go up to it and look through, there would be an answer…

The fact is that the most important influence here was not even the metaphysical idea of a hole, which I mentioned earlier, but this absolutely physical phenomenon – something that first appeared after I took acid. I still see it occasionally, and I know exactly what it is. I know exactly what size it is.

In the studio

The recording of ‘Fixing A Hole’ began on 9 February 1967. The Beatles used Regent Sound Studio in London as Abbey Road was unavailable. It was the first time the group used another studio to record for EMI.

According to McCartney, an unusual guest was brought to the session.

A guy arrived at my front gate and I said, ‘Yes? Hello,’ because I always used to answer it to everyone. If they were boring I would say, ‘Sorry, no,’ and they generally went away. This guy said, ‘I’m Jesus Christ.’ I said, ‘Oop,’ slightly shocked. I said, ‘Well, you’d better come in then.’ I thought, Well, it probably isn’t. But if he is, I’m not going to be the one to turn him away. So I gave him a cup of tea and we just chatted and I asked, ‘Why do you think you are Jesus?’ There were a lot of casualties about then. We used to get a lot of people who were maybe insecure or going through emotional breakdowns or whatever. So I said, ‘I’ve got to go to a session but if you promise to be very quiet and just sit in a corner, you can come.’ So he did, he came to the session and he did sit very quietly and I never saw him after that. I introduced him to the guys. They said, ‘Who’s this?’ I said, ‘He’s Jesus Christ.’ We had a bit of a giggle over that.
Paul McCartney
Many Years From Now, Barry Miles

The Beatles rehearsed ‘Fixing A Hole’ a number of times before the tapes rolled. They then recorded three takes, the last of which was incomplete. The second take became the basis for the final version. The unused take three, meanwhile, can be heard on the 50th anniversary super deluxe box set.

Paul McCartney's handwritten lyrics for Fixing A Hole

The basic track featured Paul McCartney on harpsichord, recorded to track one, along with Ringo Starr’s drums and maracas.

Bass guitar was recorded to track two, most likely played by John Lennon. McCartney recorded a first lead vocal on track four, and double tracked it on track three.

That’s Paul, again writing a good lyric.
John Lennon
All We Are Saying, David Sheff

The elements were then given a reduction mix, with the vocals combined on track four, and harpsichord, bass guitar, drums and maracas on track one.

George Harrison then double tracked an eight-bar guitar solo using his Fender Stratocaster. He did this onto tracks two and three, with backing vocals also recorded on the latter.

On 21 February, back at Abbey Road, The Beatles intended to record a remake of the song. But after one attempt – numbered take 1, despite the previous three – they decided the results of the earlier session were adequate.

Take two from the Regent Sound tape was subjected to a reduction mix to free up space. This became known as take three, even though a take with that number already existed. The mix combined the lead guitars and backing vocals on track three, and two lead vocal parts combined on track four.

This left track two vacant. Onto it The Beatles recorded another rhythm track, which featured Paul McCartney on bass guitar, George Martin playing a second harpsichord part, and Starr on drums. The song’s final master therefore contained two bass guitar parts, two harpsichords, and two different drum tracks.

‘Fixing A Hole’ was then mixed in mono. Five were made, numbered RM2-6, even though there had been no previous mix numbered one.

The final version of the song was an edit of mixes three and six. This was made at the end of the session; the join can be heard at the 2:06 mark.

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Next song: ‘She’s Leaving Home’
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