Fixing A Hole

Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album artworkWritten by: Lennon-McCartney
Recorded: 9, 21 February 1967
Producer: George Martin
Engineers: Geoff Emerick, Adrian Ibbetson

Released: 1 June 1967 (UK), 2 June 1967 (US)

Paul McCartney: lead and backing vocals, bass
John Lennon: backing vocals
George Harrison: backing vocals, lead guitar
Ringo Starr: drums, maracas
George Martin: harpsichord

Available on:
Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band

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

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

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

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 backing track featured Paul McCartney on bass guitar, Ringo Starr on drums and George Martin on harpsichord on track one, and McCartney's guide vocals and John Lennon's rhythm guitar simultaneously taped onto track three. There was some bleed between the instruments which meant the guide vocal can be heard on track one.

Backing vocals were then overdubbed onto track four, and George Harrison added an eight-bar guitar solo onto track two.

On 21 February, back at Abbey Road, they recorded a fourth take, before deciding the Regent Sound take two was the best. They created a reduction mix to free up space, which combined the guitar and backing vocals on one track. The new mix became known, confusingly, as take three.

They then overdubbed backing vocals, guitar and maracas to complete the song.

McCartney then recorded over his guide vocals and John Lennon's rhythm guitar, adding in their place a new lead vocal performance. On the fourth track he double-tracked his vocals in places. Maracas were also added by Starr.

Towards the end of the session five mono mixes of Fixing A Hole were made. These were numbered 2-6, even though there had been no previous mix numbered one. The final version was an edit of mixes three and six; the edit can be heard at the 2'06 mark on the album.

55 responses on “Fixing A Hole

    1. Aaron Currie

      The guitar is not tuned down a half step, the low e string is tuned down a full step to E however the rest of the guitar is in standard tuning

  1. Colonel Salt

    This song has always seemed like a throwaway to me. Extremely well written and superbly performed but it just does nothing for me. Gives me a weird feeling.

    1. Deadman

      However, Richard Lush could not be present at the Regent Sound Studio for the recording of the basic tracks, because he was an EMI employee.

        1. Zmash

          Lush doesn’t say he SAW John play bass on the song, he just says that he knows John played the bass. His knowledge could have come from the boys themselves.

    2. Jonathan

      No way it’s Lennon playing bass, the part is way too accomplished for his somewhat “sloppy” playing (even though there actually is a slight mistake like a minute into the son ). No, this is certainly Paul, and a grand example of that melodic playing style he began dabbling with late ’65 and which by this time had reached it’s zenith

  2. Leo-Howler-Sitar

    I think this song is supremely underrated, and although the lyrics don’t mean too much, the actual sound of it is just so completely unique and interesting that I can’t help but perk my ears up when I hear it.

    1. Thunderbuck

      I agree. It’s a brilliant melody and a brilliant vocal. There’s a few places in the song where Paul sings up a measure or so (notably, the first syllable of “fixing” in the opening line). It’s unexpected but it works beautifully.

      Drug references? I suppose you take veiled ones for granted in anything they did at the time, but this song certainly doesn’t bring heroin to mind. I think the lyrics could be interpreted as taking stock of one’s self and taking care of one’s own well-being.

    2. George

      George Harrison plays one of his better solos on this one. There is a five note/ chord sequence intermittenly throughout the song especially towards the end where paul sings the opening lyrics in a more melodic way that to me sounds like dim sunlight breaking through and warming the song a bit.
      Is that Paul or George playing that guitar phrase?

    3. ForgetScowl

      The lyrics don’t mean much? The lyrics are clever poetry which is one incredible side of Paul McCartney. After he delivers his story or his take on something… his artist leaves it up to you. I always thought that this was about the powerful drug of LSD and tripping out about anything…like a hole.
      It was far more creative than that along with a soothing melody and production.

  3. luca

    I was carefully listening to the recording and I think that the maracas are on the basic track and were not overdubbed later, probably played by John. It’s the first time that I write so I’d like to thank Joe for his beautiful job. This is the best Beatles site

      1. Sam J

        But Mac , I read, has stated he was on an airplane, because he gets about, and got the title from someone saying “please pass the Salt and Pepper. Immediately he played on the words to come u with Sgt. Pepper.

        1. Sam J

          This bit is from Paul taken right from this site on the Album Section:
          Me and Mal often bantered words about which led to the rumour that he thought of the name Sergeant Pepper, but I think it would be much more likely that it was me saying, ‘Think of names.’ We were having our meal and they had those little packets marked ‘S’ and ‘P’. Mal said, ‘What’s that mean? Oh, salt and pepper.’ We had a joke about that. So I said, ‘Sergeant Pepper,’ just to vary it, ‘Sergeant Pepper, salt and pepper,’ an aural pun, not mishearing him but just playing with the words.

    1. 4-track mind

      Yes! I read this somewhere years ago, and makes sense to me: as Macca-like as this song is, there’s something oddly un-Macca-like about it. Paul was not adverse to other uncredited “collaborations” (see “Michelle”) and was hanging a lot with Mal at this time; Mal even gushes in his diary about helping Paul write “Col. [sic] Pepper.”

  4. GabrielAntonio

    Funny thing,for me it was always clear that this lyric it’s about freedom of thinking and speech

    “I’m fixing a hole where the rain gets in.And stops my mind from wandering
    Where it will go.”

    Maybe a reference to the act of thinking about the problems of the world that surrounds us
    (not only emotional individual problems that music lyrics usually talk about)

    “And it really doesn’t matter if I’m wrong I’m right
    Where I belong I’m right
    Where I belong.
    See the people standing there who Disagree and never win.And wonder why
    they don’t get in my door.”

    Here it is said that don’t matter what my point of view is and don’t matter how many people disagree me, at least I made a reflection and showed a new point.
    “I wonder why they don’t get in my door”
    Probably a defiance to the people who contradict but don’t face a rational process and think about solutions.

    Fixing a Hole maybe represents youth engaged with political and social matters of the 60’s society.
    I know it sounds a bit vague . But that’s my interpretation…

  5. chuck

    my interpretation has always been a zen interpretation,,,im fixing a hole where the rain gets in & (via fixing this hole)> stops my mind from wandering,,,so i can concentrate on the task im engaging in & not thinking bout distracting things,,,quite a zen statement

  6. Carl

    I think this is a response (and slowed down minor version) to Elvis ‘s Were Gonna Move …”There’s a hole in the roof where the rain pours in”;…haha love it!

  7. Jacques Pariseau

    I’ve always thought the guitar solo in Fixing a Hole is one of the most musical guitar solos ever, right down to that final low note.
    P.S. I love this site and visit every day!

  8. Michael

    Well, for all those who claim that George played the excellent guitar solo on this song, you folks better correct Mr. McCartney, who has claimed several times in interviews that he himself played the solo.

  9. Riffking

    According to “The Beatles Gear” by Babiuk, Richard Lush says that Lennon’s bass part was added during a later overdub session at Abbey Road. That would seem to lend creedance to his claim that John played the bass.

  10. Valvicus

    @Jonathan re: Paul’s bass playing (post # 9 😉 ,Tuesday 26 February 2013) — I agree. As a matter of fact, I rather doubt John had much of anything to do with “Fixing A Hole” at all, what with it’s being entirely Paul’s composition, etc..

    As for the guitar playing, it is clearly George’s work: listen to the two precisely “pre-bent” downward slurs from E to D, quite characteristic of sitar playing, that follow “… past my door.” The second one is spot-on chromatic, with E falling to E-flat to D. Just listen to George’s sitar lines in “Love You To”, and you’ll hear what I ‘m referring to, regarding his style vs. Paul’s superbly played, but slightly more “rough-‘n’-ready” aggressiveness, sans any of the limpid sitar inflections George’s post-’65 work showed to an ever-increasing degree.

  11. Valvicus

    I neglected to say that the guitar is tuned down a whole step to the key of B-flat, making the aforementioned notes D, D-flat, and C… 😛

  12. RingoStarr39

    Joe, you should change the bit that says Paul recorded the lead vocals at the same time as the backing track. If you listen to the backing track, you can clearly hear a guide vocal bleeding through on the harpsichord track that is sung differently than the main vocal track. So, the vocals had to have been an overdub. The vocals are also double tracked, which must have been overdubbed.

    1. RingoStarr39

      Also, George Martin didn’t play the harpsichord. That was also Paul. The only way there would be vocal bleed through on the harpsichord track would be if Paul was singing while he was playing.

      1. Joe Post author

        Thanks. I’ve amended the article drawing on better session info. It seems that the bass, drums and harpsichord were all recorded at the same time (McCartney on bass), with a guide vocal recorded on a different track. But the vocal bled through so can be heard along with the harpsichord etc.

        1. Richard Boene

          Hey Joe,

          I have to bring another issue to your attention. While the “In the Studio” section of this article claims Lennon played rhythm guitar, the personnel at the top of the page omits this only indicating that he sang backing vocals.

            1. Richard Boene

              Actually I did read that sentence. Obviously however, I misunderstood the usage of the words “recorded over.” I’m no expert on recording or engineering and I didn’t realize that it meant the guide vocals and rhythm guitar were buried or wiped from the mix. Apologies.

  13. johnq11

    When I was a kid I always interpreted this song as “Fixin a Hole” instead of “Fixing a Hole.” “Fixin” is a Southern U.S. slang for something your about to do or something in the process of being done. So I actually thought McCartney meant he was putting a hole in the roof on purpose to let the rain come inside his house. So in my youthful imagination I imagined that he had to put a hole in his roof to let the water fall on his head to “stop his mind from wandering.” So I guess I used to think that he was just sitting around daydreaming and he needed the water to come down and wake him up sort of like a shower.

    I also used to think that Sgt. Peppers was kind of like Rock & Roll music with carnival/circus music mixed in so everything kind of feels like your at a carnival listening to this imaginary band.

  14. Dreww

    I was talking about this with a friend the other day, and after much consideration this seems to us to be McCartney’s ONLY psychedelic song!

    Paul is a master of style and he certainly stretched in many directions around this time. But when I look at Paul’s contributions 1966-68 I don’t see anything else that fits the label “psychedelic”. Penny Lane is the closest and to me that is just an incredible pop song. Almost everything I think of as psychedelic – Lucy, Walrus, Kite, Tomorrow, She said, Because, Rain, Universe- is from John, which I never realized before.

    I love the imagery, the languidness. Really, I’m not a fan of most of the songs Paul sang on Pepper. This one and When I’m 64 are the only ones I really like!

  15. philmat

    Outstanding song. Once again, the punchy attack of the Ric bass can be heard on a superb bassline (even though there’s a mistake in the third verse, where the he misses one of the riffs and then sort of fixes it). The guitar licks and solo fit the song perfectly. The spirit of the song is 100% Pepperish. Any interpretation of it that you can make is entirely subjective, and I think that was the intention with a lot of their songs.

  16. 4-track mind

    Joe, curious what your source is for the recording process, which seems quite detailed but unfortunately at odds with what appears on the final master. Not noted: both the lead guitar and the bass (yes, the bass!) are double-tracked.

    Great site; I send students here regularly.

    1. Joe Post author

      The main sources are normally Mark Lewisohn’s Complete Recording Sessions and John Winn’s That Magic Feeling, plus any other reputable source that I can uncover. This article might need a bit of attention though. Normally the entries in the history section are more detailed.

  17. Fred

    I’ve always loved this song and always considered it my favorite on the album (yes, even more than “A Day in A Life”). And if the story about the stranger being brought into the studio- can you imagine. The guy was probably too out of it to even appreciate what he was invited to witness.


    I am remiss in not saying…..

    “”I’M FIXING A HOLE”” is a great Paul song,

    masterly bass playing by Paul
    superb guitar solo & other backing motifs by the one & only George Harrison…

    Paul plays the most wonderful creative melodic bass playing, raw edgy & gutsy electric guitar, very tasteful acoustic guitar & far more than adequate Piano… ..

    I have analysed every Beatle song there is at least a thousand times over, from a playing perspective of WHO, HOW, WHEN WHEN & WHAT… do not ask me about the WHY.. It is beyond me. & then all over again all the songs, lyrics & melodic structures as a Songwriter myself..

    And even too this day, I am still hearing many new things as I listen to the recordings over & over, …it is obsessive, it never stops amazing me..

    I have experienced doing my own band recordings both live band demo’s & full production recordings on 4 track , 8 track , 16 track** & now on endless tracks using computer technology the first 2 you had to have the band members all playing their parts 100% correct or back you went again..

    16 track allowed a lot more freedom & separation of instruments, without the need to select & bounce down, so decisions could often be left till further a long the tracks creation.. but, crunch time always would come…

    But,you could never escape with sloppy or out of tune / time playing..whereas, today, your music skills, or lack of them can be made totally redundant by technology..

    These guys were very good musicians, with thousands of hours of grind behind all their natural talent..

    Ringo’s drumming as often been described as adequate at best… Ringo was perfect for the Beatles.. Ask, Phil Collins what he thinks

    Ringo is an excellent drummer… think of the thousands who have been inspired by him

    John, was a brash guitar player, rough & ready, not that good..that is Rubbish, he was a superb RHYTHM player, with basic lead playing skills.
    Excellent vocalist
    Excellent songwriter, in the Beatles & after HELP, NOWHERE MAN, I’M A WALRUS, IN MY LIFE, GIRL, YOU’RE GONNA LOSE THAT GIRL & countless others

    George, has often been put in Paul’s, shadow, an undeserving place to be… as great as Paul is, George’s guitar work has always been superb studied, well constructed ,tasteful & immaculate and always being as what the song needed.

    His live guitar work in the early days pre-fame was not so brilliant.. but when he realised what went on record would stay on record for ever..

    I remember a reading somewhere of his upon hearing his very simple guitar work on the LOVE ME DO … how nervous he was on hearing it for the first time on Radio…

    If you should listen too it …he sounds tentative & nervous…

    How that quickly changed… on the following singles, EP’s & LP’s as the Beatles music took the world by storm

    Not a note was ever out of place….again…
    That is the mark of a brilliant player/musician.. play exactly what is required perfectly….every time…

    He made both Paul & especially John strive harder to improve their own musicianship
    Good vocalist / great harmonies
    Wrote some excellent songs in the Beatles & after.. from the superb

    As Frank Sinatra said of ”SOMETHING’ , It is the best LENNON & McCartney song that they didn’t write

    I am a musician & songwriter & grew up with the Beatles music from January 11tth 1964, The day that I first heard a Beatles song “” I WANT TOO HOLD YOUR HAND “” it was just after 6pm at night on ADELAIDE, radio station 5KA,

    I think the DJ was Jim Slade if my distant memory serves me well….

    Now, to Mr El Supremo,

    Paul,from the early days (as a fellow songwriter with John) of growing strength confidence & complexity to this very day at 73.. & still going strong..

    Very heavily criticized & panned mercilessly from time to time during his solo career since the Beatles split of 1970, he has written, recorded & produced some very impressive music that will last as long as the Beatles own catulog.

    Always the superb performer,
    Always the superb musician
    bass, it was he who made rock bass playing creatively melodic & able to drive as well inspiring generations of bass players
    electric guitar, raw & exciting with strong melodic approach, creative & aggressive
    acoustic guitar very tasteful
    piano… very tasteful, melodic & as per the songs requirements..more than adequate
    drums.. apparently a very good drummer as well…as Ringo, would sometimes find out..
    vocals.. simply superb, best voice in the Beatles

    Nearly always the superb songwriter 99.9999%
    My personal favourite among so many..


    Superbly crafted & simple, I have seen McCartney do this live in ADELAIDE 1994/95 ADELAIDE OVAL CONCERT & on the net in concert countless time & I never tire of this song.

    The catalog of LENNON & McCARTNEY & post 1970 McCARTNEY is just too impressive to list, even on the down moments in McCARTNEY’S Solo career there has always been a saving grace so too speak.

    Take the LP “” RED ROSE SPEEDWAY “” there was “” MY LOVE ”’

    Now to finish where I started..


    1. Randle

      The Long And Winding Road?

      John was quoted as saying that this was Paul’s Bridge Over Troubled Water. Paul complained that Phil Spector put the orchestrated music in the song without his approval.

      While it’s not a terrible song, it’s somewhat of a plodding song that doesn’t give you a true Beatles song feel. Paul wrote many better songs than The Long And Winding Road. Sadly, Paul wrote few quality songs when he formed the group Wings.

      1. Lance Monotone

        Randle, I have to disagree with your assessment of Paul’s post-Beatles career (in and out of Wings). If you appreciate pop music as an art form, he had few peers in the 70s. His music was the soundtrack of my childhood. Here are just a few of my favorites.

        Maybe I’m Amazed, Jet, Listen to What the Man Said, Silly Love Songs, Too Many People (a cranky song about John), Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey, Let ‘Em In, Nineteen Hundred and Eighty Five, Band on the Run, Arrow Through Me, My Love, Live and Let Die, Goodnight Tonight, Magneto and Titanium Man (my personal favorite…a perfect pop song), Take It Away, Coming Up, Helen Wheels, Hi Hi Hi.

        I highly recommend listening to the albums ‘Ram’ and ‘Band on the Run’ if you want an introduction to his solo work.

  19. SaxonMothersSon

    Was 16 in ’67. Love this song and its gorgeous guitar break. This song inspired many a teen and older to cover their white or beige bedroom walls with Indian print bedspreads & Psycho posters. It really IS a wonderful stand alone song, rarely covered.

  20. Sam

    Personally I think Paul used Many Years from Now to ‘reinterpret ‘ the lyrics to many of his songs to make himself appear cooler. blackbird being a prime example. He never mentioned it was about the Black Civil rights movement till about 30 years after he had written it.hmmmm

  21. Mark K

    Great comments on this song — I’ve seen it referenced that John played the bass on this (perhaps in Emerick’s book?) but the following song summary from George Martin certainly sounds like it was McCartney, as the bass line is pivotal and he doesn’t imply anyone else played it: “Paul knew exactly where he was going with ‘Fixing A Hole,'” wrote George Martin in the book “Summer Of Love.” He continues: “As a result, it was one of the fastest tracks we recorded, in an album of 13 songs that took some five months to complete…It’s a very simply constructed song, built around a harpsichord and a bass guitar. Even before we got into the studio Paul had decided to use a harpsichord as the mainstay of his rhythm; even so, the bass line is more important than the harpsichord line.”

    The fast descending bass line on the last verse (during ‘..that weren’t important yesterday’) is pretty amazing — I think Lennon would possibly have had trouble conceiving that on a bass part, I think. On the guitar solo, that seems unequivocally Harrison, though McCartney would (in my opinion) been capable of such a part.

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