You Never Give Me Your Money

Abbey Road album artworkWritten by: Lennon-McCartney
Recorded: 6 May; 1, 15, 30, 31 July; 5 August 1969
Producer: George Martin
Engineers: Glyn Johns, Phil McDonald, Geoff Emerick

Released: 26 September 1969 (UK), 1 October 1969 (US)

Paul McCartney: vocals, backing vocals, bass, piano, guitar, chimes, tape loops
John Lennon: backing vocals, guitar
George Harrison: backing vocals, guitar
Ringo Starr: drums, tambourine

Available on:
Abbey Road

A lament about The Beatles' business wranglings of early 1969, You Never Give Me Your Money was written by Paul McCartney and was the genesis of the 'long medley' that dominated the second half of the Abbey Road album.

Abbey Road - The Beatles
This was me directly lambasting Allen Klein's attitude to us: no money, just funny paper, all promises and it never works out. It's basically a song about no faith in the person, that found its way into the medley on Abbey Road. John saw the humour in it.
Paul McCartney
Many Years From Now, Barry Miles

The song is made up of a number of disparate parts, joined together in the manner of Lennon's Happiness Is A Warm Gun. The first part begins with a thinly-veiled protest at the influence of Allen Klein, whom McCartney profoundly distrusted.

'Funny paper' - that's what we get. We get bits of paper saying how much is earned and what this is and that is, but we never actually get it in pounds, shilling and pence. We've all got a big house and a car and an office, but to actually get the money we've earned seems impossible.
George Harrison, 1969

The second part is a fondly nostalgic look back to The Beatles' earliest days, with a boogie-woogie backing led by McCartney on piano. Wistfully recalling the days when the group yearned to be "toppermost of the poppermost", having left college with no money and few job prospects, it describes "that magic feeling: nowhere to go."

The Beatles' future may be gone, but McCartney is determined to salvage their spirit, and that of the Sixties, for his future. You Never Give Me Your Money marks the psychological opening of his solo career.
Revolution In The Head, Ian MacDonald

A lengthy guitar solo acts as a bridge to the penultimate part of the song ("One sweet dream, pick up the bags and get in the limousine"). This section was written while McCartney was in New York with his wife Linda, and referred to their fondness for getting purposefully lost in the countryside.

The climax of You Never Give Me Your Money is the repeated chant: "One two three four five six seven, all good children go to heaven". It is backed by a motif of guitar notes that would later return as the bridge between Carry That Weight and The End.

The song plays out with a selection of tape loops, with which the song segues into Sun King.

That's Paul. Well, that's not a song, you know. Abbey Road was really unfinished songs all stuck together. Everybody praises the album so much, but none of the songs had anything to do with each other, no thread at all, only the fact that we stuck them together.
John Lennon
All We Are Saying, David Sheff

In the studio

The Beatles began recording You Never Give Me Your Money on 6 May 1969. They laid down 36 takes of the song, which at this point ended abruptly immediately before the "One two three four five six seven" refrain.

On this day the line-up was McCartney on piano and guide vocals, Lennon on distorted guitar, Harrison on another guitar, fed through a revolving Leslie speaker, and Starr played drums.

McCartney alone returned to it on 1 July, overdubbing his lead vocals onto take 30. Two weeks later, on 15 July, more vocals were added, as were chimes - heard towards the end of the song.

On 30 July, when The Beatles prepared a rough mix of the long medley, they tried various ways to merge You Never Give Me Your Money into Sun King. At this point they settled upon a long organ note. More vocals were also recorded.

These vocals were scrapped the next day, and McCartney completed the song with the addition of bass and piano. The crossfade into Sun King, meanwhile, was finally settled on 5 August, when he assembled a collection of tape loops containing the sounds of bells, birds, bubbles and insects.

73 responses on “You Never Give Me Your Money

  1. Elizabeth

    I like the Beatles, but I can`t believe that the song “you never give me your money was sung by Paul McCartney, I thought that was John, really I`m amazed.
    Anyway I love the Beatles. Iam Paul McCartney`s fan.
    This site open my eyes(my son help me)

    1. Tory

      It’s cool! I remember when I didn’t know who was singing. The more you listen, the more you start recognizing the voices. Some still stump me though!

      1. Will G.

        I know what you mean, it blew my mind when I realized John was singing ‘Anna’ (from Please Please Me) and not George. I blame Lennon’s cold for my confusion.

    2. MVP

      Great tune. When I first heard it, I was pretty certain that was Paul singing, though at times it sounds like he’s trying to imitate John’s style.

      What I had trouble with was determining who’s playing the guitar parts the follow the piano introduction.

      To me, it sounds like someone playing guitar, but as if they were soloing on a bass (i.e. as if they practiced the lines on a bass, but recorded it with a guitar).

      1. ForgetScowl

        You know you’re right. It does sound like John in the beginning however Paul was also very influenced by Elvis. “Back in the U.S.S.R.” (to me) was Paul’s vocal imitating Elvis while the song & the band were imitating The Beach Boys. Back to this song, When Paul sings “Out of college, money spent…” He’s doing Elvis again. (Just sayin’.)

  2. Michael

    Paul is listed as playing the main piano part but there is some rather fast “boogie woogie” piano in the section that starts “Out of college…”. I’ve always wondered whether this was played by someone else as it sounds a lot more difficult than most other Paul piano parts.

          1. Doug Cannon

            Isolating the left side and playing at half-speed helps to uncover the actual speed that the track was recorded at and Paul’s “boogie woogie” virtuosity. It also explains the chiming “tack” piano sound created by doubling the speed in normal playback (similar to Alvin & the Chipmunks). And even more interesting is that the right hand riffs were recorded on separate tracks (also at half speed) and later reduced to the one final track evident by the disparity of the levels and the intricacy of the parts. Hats off to Geoff Emerick in creating Meade Lux McCartney through creative editing and gave us a memorable piano performance.

      1. Andrew

        I’m pretty near certain that it’s George Martin. If you listen to outtakes of this song, Paul plays the piano in this part, but the piano part is totally different to the finished version. Listen to Mr Martin’s honky tonk piano in Rocky Raccoon, then listen again to You Never…it’s the same style. Paul is a good piano player, but not quite technical enough to play this part.

        1. Doug

          Listen to the piano performance slowed down to half the normal speed (the speed at which it was recorded) and you will realize that Paul was most certainly the player on this. The right hand triad fingering is somewhat similar to the piano style that he played on “A Day in the Life.” Mr. Martin stuck to a more classical or “learned” style of piano playing such as the double-speed boogie woogie “Rocky Raccoon” or the baroque double-speed “In My Life.”

      2. ForgetScowl

        I agree with that Joe. My son who’s a self taught piano player put a lot of work into “Lady Madonna” and “Martha my Dear” but he finally nailed them both. Thanks to Paul.

    1. Andrew Shakespeare

      I’m pretty sure it’s George Martin. If you listen to the bootleg versions, Paul’s just playing chords when it goes to that part. It sounds to me like George M ‘dropped in’ a piano part. Listen to his playing on Lovely Rita and Rocky Racoon – more boogie woogie playing. I’ll bet it’s George M.

      1. Doug Cannon

        Maestro Martin’s right-handed style of piano playing always incorporated a “flowery” or busy right hand and a generally simpler left hand. A left-handed person (Paul) would be more inclined to play chords with their weaker right hand and a busier dominant left hand (Lady Madonna, Martha, My Dear, and most of his solo material). The answer to this is found by slowing the track to half speed (most audio software has this ability such as audacity or pro tools) and giving the piano tracks a good listen. The timbre of the piano is very specific…..especially when it is doubled or halved in speed. If you slow a “normal” piano to half-speed, it is sloppy and unintelligible…..which is why we know that this piano was recorded at half-speed. The keyboard player and his engineers created this wonderful part in the overdubbing process of the recording. While playing to a half-speed playback and an octave down, simple chords were played with the right hand (track 1) while boogie boogie octaves (at the slower speed) were played separately on the left hand (track 2). The final track (tracks 1 & 2), when played at normal speed, was now an octave higher, far brighter than a normal piano, and pretty impressive.

  3. Luke

    According to Mark Lewisohn (forgot how to spell his name) but in his book “The Complete Beatles Chronicle” says that the day they were recording this song that George was on Distortion and John was on a “bright guitar”…you might have it mixed up…

    1. Joe Post author

      I didn’t mix it up. From Lewisohn’s book: “Certainly recorded with the medley in mind, the Beatles taped 36 basic track takes (the 30th being “best”): piano and guide vocal (Paul), drums (Ringo), distorted electric guitar (John) and chiming electric guitar (George).”

    1. Andrew

      I think of this song as being directly influenced by Happiness Is A Warm Gun. They always rose to the challenges set by the others, and Happiness… was Paul’s favourite White Album track.

  4. Robert M.

    An update for all concerned: Allen Klein, the attorney about whom the song “You Never Give Me Your Money” was written and performed, passed into the legal hereafter yesterday, aged 77.

  5. Zeke L

    This is my favorite song, and it was my gateway to real rock and roll – I feel like the bridge is one of the hardest-rocking sounding pieces of Beatles work ever!

  6. B.H.Z.

    Hmm, never thought about it like that before, but I guess it could be viewed as the psychological beginning of Paul’s solo career.

    Which, in turn, would explain why I’m neither a big fan of this song nor Paul’s solo stuff.

    1. Elsewhere Man

      Yeah, I agree. This was the first of many suite-type songs that Paul was doing in the early ’70s like “Uncle Albert,” “Band On The Run,” and “Live And Let Die.”

  7. DrYattz

    I’ve always been fascinated by the melodic overtones while Paul sings “Oh, that magic feeling, nowhere to go.” It first sounds like bells, but then resolves into a distinct electric guitar tonality, as if it is a guitar effect (which I don’t believe existed commercially until years later).

    1. Jamie Shields

      those melodic overtones are the result of george’s guitar being fed into a rotating leslie speaker… that and some creative miking and eq’ing helped to create those bell-like overtones.
      that was george’s party trick for a number of years (listen to the middle of “Badge” by Cream, a part that george helped write for them, as well as any other number of early solo pieces).

    1. Joe Post author

      Yes, but I’ve also read that McCartney recorded a number of instruments that were left out of the final mix. I think chimes might have been among them. As there’s some confusion I’ve left them in there for now.

      1. Deadman

        Guitars, not chimes, during the “but, oh, that magic feeling” section, and you can hear a string bend (impossible on chimes) after the first “Nowhere to go…”.
        Chimes, not guitars, panned between centre and left during the outro.

  8. A. Robson

    I just noticed that the chord structure for “You Never Give Me Your Money”, (which is really nice), is identical to the chord structure of the first part of “The Earle of Salisbury” pavan written by William Byrd in the 1600’s. Specifically, Am, Dm7, G7, Cmaj7, Fmaj7, Bm7b5, E7, Am. Has anyone asked Mr. McCartney if this is where he got the inspiration or is this just a much more common progression than I thought?

    1. Rocky0912

      Many famous songs have similar chord changes that range through a wide variety of musical genres. for example, the jazz standard “Autumn Leaves,” which was written in the 1940’s, also has changes very similar to this song(except that the “Fmaj7” would be an “F#minor” when played in the same key, and the “E7” would be minor as well) a later song with similar but not identical changes would be Gloria Estefan’s “I will survive”.

      1. Michael

        Further to the reply above, the chord sequence in question is based on the “circle of 4ths” ( or circle of fifths if you move in the opposite direction). As Rocky says, it’s very common. “I say a little prayer” and “Caroline No” are other contemporary examples although both of these songs only use the sequence in part.

      2. Boo Long

        Gloria Gaynor!
        While I’m here correction Glorias ;o) , have you ever noticed how the same chord sequence started one bar late becomes ‘Stranger In Paradise’?

  9. DarioFortuna

    “The Beatles began recording You Never Give Me Your Money on 6 May 1969. They laid down 36 takes of the song, which at this point ended abruptly immediately before the “One two three four five six seven” refrain.”

    Yeah but take 30 (the final version) lasts 6 minutes, with a jam at the end.

  10. YouNeverGiveMeYourMoney

    This isn’t my favorite song (don’t let the username fool you) but I enjoy it very much. My favorite part is when they’re singing, “1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, all good children go to Heaven.” I love the chorus on that part, it just sounds so amazing. <3

  11. David

    I always thought that this line was strange but recently I’ve tried to find some sense in it because I really love that line and song. I don’t know if it is 100% right what George said, I wanna hear Paul say the meaning.

    What I thought of this line is that funny papers are money and all they get is funny papers, all they got was money from everyone but no one gives them real money, real love or real feelings, they used money as a metaphor.

  12. JR

    “Step on the gas and wipe that tear away”…. This song really seems to symbolize the end of the Beatles. Probably my favourite song on the whole album which is saying a lot.

    1. ForgetScowl

      There was more symbolism at the end of Abbey Road and that was the song titled “The End” which signified the end of one of their best albums but also “The End of The Beatles” and they went out in rock-smashing style, didn’t they?

  13. Nelson

    You Never Give Me Your Money” with various sections, beautiful harmonies, varioius guitar sounds, prog like movement, ambient loops all in 21 chords in less than 4 minutes

  14. DB

    A very creative song by Paul, with great piano and bass work by him. George is strong on the guitar, and I think John plays some of his best guitar as a Beatle (with lead-like parts) on this song. One of my favorites.

    1. Andrew

      I think this is my favourite song on the album. Paul was still ambitious, and full of musical confidence. It was delicate; it rocked. Paul used three different voices; the clean arpeggio lines are almost textbook Beatles; the drumming is inventive…oh, I could go on.

  15. Doug Cannon

    Isolating the left side and playing at half-speed helps to uncover the actual speed that the track was recorded at and Paul’s “boogie woogie” virtuosity. It also explains the chiming “tack” piano sound created by doubling the speed in normal playback (similar to Alvin & the Chipmunks). And even more interesting is that the right hand riffs were recorded on separate tracks (also at half speed) and later reduced to the one final track evident by the disparity of the levels and the intricacy of the parts. Hats off to Geoff Emerick in creating Meade Lux McCartney through creative editing and gave us a memorable piano performance.

  16. aak

    One of the best tracks on the album I’d say. All four Beatles’ are at their finest instrumentally and vocally. Great guitar work by George and John, a nice piano part by Paul, incredible drumming by Ringo, and a sick vocal.

  17. Manuel

    There is one fact wrong. The book Recording The Beatles, says that on May 6th, Lennon was on the Fender VI bass, not in a distorted guitar. And on July 11th, Paul added another bass over John’s original recording. Sounds fair for me… 🙂


  18. mauricio

    The most difficult drum made by Ringo (whit a day in the life and dear prudence)
    The mos difficult piano made by Paul (whit Lady Madonna)
    One of the best guitar solo
    This song is one of the best

    1. Yann

      Sorry, but “Lady Madonna” is quite easy piano part to play… as well as most of McCartney’s piano parts, with two exceptions : the “boogie-woogie” part of YNGMYM, and “Martha my dear” (according to Macca himsef, he tried to create the most difficult he was able to play, but still not that hard for an average piano player, as me for example…). The boogie part is too hard for me, though…

      1. Chris

        From what I’m hearing, it seems the left and right hand parts were recorded separately. There is someone on YouTube who plays them together, but it’s too hard for me right now, so it makes sense Paul played the left hand base part first, and then did the improv/right hand on another track later. If you listen to the right hand part, it DOES sound like an improvisational, made up on the fly, type of fill. Just my opinion, though. Someone should ask Paul…

  19. beatallabout

    Paul plays bass throughout, but I’m sure George”R.Raccoon”Martin plays the honky tonk piano in the “Out of college” section.It’s too technical for Paul

  20. James Ferrell

    This is probably my favorite section of Abbey Road. Musically I especially like the chords and lead guitar building up to the “One sweet dream…” section. Genius. Lyrically I like everything. Even the supposedly bitter opening lyrics sound more nostalgic and wistful than bitter to me, coming in the beautiful harmonic setting of the opening.

    The Beatles used terrific guitar arpeggios over and over on Abbey Road, but the arpeggios under the “1-2-3-4-5-6-7” part are among the best.

    So great!

  21. Beatleken

    PIANO-on NIcky Hopkins site it is listed that he did a lot of piano overdubs uncredited. Tha boogie part is definitely his style. listen to the Stones piano parts. He did play on REVOLUTION-single version,

  22. Julie

    I can’t imagine John singing this. Not to sound snobby but I don’t hear John singing this by any stretch of the imagination beyond ‘what if’ sorta thinking. Excepting the end bit of course.

  23. Heavy

    Just found this site recently – I can only say ”wow”’.

    As for the song, i love it, and what always bugged me: if George plays guitar in this one, how come the Leslie-tampered lowering guitar part (”all that magic feeling”) sounds almost identical to the similarly descending guitar in ”Maybe i’m amazed”? I always felt that song as if an out-take from Abbey Road.

  24. Marc Tewksbury

    I first heard this in 1969 and thought it was such a cool song. Paul sings all the way through. From a delicate beginning to an Elvis style in the middle. Listen to the bootleg and hear how the song develops. The chord changes that move the song into the last section is just so inventive and sonically takes the song higher, starts in C and ends up in A. Lennon would never write anything like this and McCartney’s vocals are superb.

  25. BeatleKen

    Could be Nicky Hopkins on the boogie piano. He was supposed to have overdubbed some piano parts on Beatles songs. Although he is only credited on Revolution the single.

    1. Bob

      There’s a lenghty conversation about this question higher up in the comments.
      It’s McCartney, who recorded left and right hand seperatly and in slow tempo.

  26. Bob B.

    Paul’s voice, during the “Out of college” sequence goes from the right speaker to the left speaker.
    He and George Martin were fiddling with all kinds of stuff on this album.

  27. Anthony Polson

    only after reading these posts did i really listen to the boogie woogie piano and its definitely sounds been recorded at a slower speed, something they did with vocals of course…i think it’s one of the best songs ever recorded, and once again showcses McCartney’s songriting and vocal flexabiliy, it’s rare to hear him this overtly political

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