Your Mother Should Know

Magical Mystery Tour album artworkWritten by: Lennon-McCartney
Recorded: 22, 23 August; 16, 29 September 1967
Producer: George Martin
Engineers: John Timperley, Geoff Emerick, Ken Scott

Released: 8 December 1967 (UK), 27 November 1967 (US)

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

Available on:
Magical Mystery Tour
Anthology 2

Your Mother Should Know was written by Paul McCartney at his home in London. It took its title from the screenplay of A Taste Of Honey, and the music harked back to Busby Berkeley showtunes and the golden age of music hall.

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I wrote it in Cavendish Avenue on the harmonium I have in the dining room there. My Aunty Jin and Uncle Harry and a couple of relatives were staying and they were in the living room just across the hall, so I just went to the dining room and spent a few hours with the door open with them listening. And I suppose because of the family atmosphere Your Mother Should Know came in. It's a very music-hall kind of thing, probably influenced by the fact that my Aunty Jin was in the house.
Paul McCartney
Many Years From Now, Barry Miles

It's likely that the song was briefly considered for the Our World satellite broadcast of 25 June 1967. The Beatles went instead with All You Need Is Love, a simpler message and one more readily understood by a worldwide audience. But the idea of a big old-fashioned singalong clearly stayed with McCartney when planning the Magical Mystery Tour film.

The big prop was that great big staircase that we danced down, that was where all the money went: in that particular shot on that big staircase. I said, 'Sod it, you've got to have the Busby Berkeley ending,' and it is a good sequence. Just the fact of John dancing, which he did readily. You can see by the fun expression on his face that he wasn't forced into anything.
Paul McCartney

In the studio

Your Mother Should Know was begun in Chappell Recording Studios in Maddox Street, London, as Abbey Road was booked for other artists.

On the first day, 22 August 1967, they recorded eight takes of the rhythm track. The following day - their last session at Chappell - they recorded overdubs for the song. This was also Brian Epstein's last-ever visit to a Beatles recording session; he died on 27 August.

On 16 September they began a remake of Your Mother Should Know, recording 11 more takes. The arrangement was harmonium, piano, vocals and drums, with a military-style snare rhythm. The eighth of these can be heard on Anthology 2.

The remake was eventually abandoned, and on 29 September Lennon and McCartney completed the song by going back to the Chappell tapes and overdubbed organ and bass.

49 responses on “Your Mother Should Know

  1. Bruce

    Ahhh this song is amazing, just as every single one on the album. With 12/8 time, like most of paul’s songs. Bloody outstandingm that upright mccarneyish bass, that piano, those beatles-style choruses, yooooooooour mo-ther- shooould., aaaah aaaaaaaaahh.. And that organ on the interlude, so …psychedelic

    Beatiful. Magical Mystery Tour is the only album i really cant get tired of listenin to. Along with Revolver maybe

        1. paulsbass

          I’ve never heard of a thing called 12/8, and it’s definitely not the metrum of “most of Paul’s songs” and definitely not the metrum on this one.
          And it’s no shuffle.
          It’s like LetsPlayCool says: It’s a simple 4/4.

          There are songs with 6/8 metrum, which is a fast waltz. “I me mine” (verses) would be an example.

          1. vonbontee

            Maybe not a literal shuffle, but Paul DID do a lot of those 4/4 songs with the swing/shuffle feel, either literal or implied. Most of his “granny” songs do that; also “Michelle”, “Penny Lane”, the middle of “A Day In The Life”, etc.

            John & George did this in certain songs too, but less often than Paul.

          2. Bradlee TheDawg

            @PaulsBass, if you’ve never heard of 12/8 you don’t read music. It’s very common, and It is a shuffle. 12/8 is to 4/4 what 6/8 is to 2/4 (March music) Anything that sounds like dot dah | dot dah | dot dah instead of dot dot | dot dot is a shuffle – dotted eight notes. So you take the dotted eighth notes and you get 4 sets of triplets – thus the 12/8 meter. 6/8 is not a “fast waltz” waltzes are in 3/4 so the equiv. would be 9/8. 6/8 is commonly used in MARCH music. Sousa used it all the time. You might want to take a couple music theory classes at your local community college

    1. Nina Bean

      Now, I clearly think it’s all just fantastic! It’s wonderful, each and every last bit. And people tell me I’m too young to know about any this but when your father sings about anything in the car constantly and he has some of the albums, *_* ,you’re gonna learn about the Beatles and their wisdom and beauty and you have to know about them. They had 5 movies and a cartoon! And then after the broke up Ringo was in Caveman and The Magic Christian and John was in How I Won the War. Plus they are soooo darnnnn cutee! Especially Ringo, so tiny and cute. <3 Bless John and George and keep on reelin' Paul!

    2. Juan Blanco

      THOSE WHO NEVER HEARD of 12/8 time signature may be due to the fact that they’ve never opened a piece of sheet music with that time signaturte in their lives, which doesn’t necesarily mean it doesn’t exist…. I did, in fact. The very first time I saw 12/8 that on a sheet music was a BEATLES SONG, called Oh Darling (ring a bell?)

      Now, I’m gonna try to settle this topic for good… I came with the answer to this after years of transcribing Beatles songs, specially piano tunes, most of which fit Lennon’s description of ‘Granny’. Everything I’m about to say can be easely verified with sheet music software (namely, Guitar Pro, to cite the simplest)

      Most computer sheet music software have a button called ‘Triplet Feel’, that when activated, adds ‘shuffle’ to the beat no matter what the time signature is… The Following beatle songs are all in 4/4, but feature this triplet feel:

      1- Michelle
      2- Good Day Sunshine
      3- Penny Lane
      4- When I’m Sixty Four
      5- With a Little Help From My Friends
      6- your Mother Should Know
      7- Honey Pie
      8- Maxwell’s Silver Hammer.

      Another song that is commonly mistaken all over the internet as being a 12/8 but is actually a 4/4 with Triplet feel, is The Beach Boys’ “Wouldn’t It Be Nice”.

      Now here is the magic: Any of this 4/4 songs can be written either in 4/4 or 12/8 in sheet music software, and in both signatures they are going to sound correct and exactly the same as long as they have the above mentioned ‘Triplet Feel’ activated. I admit I do not know what applies to conservatory musicians’ sense of rythm, but at least to computers, 12/8 is virtually the same as 6/4 (which is the same as 4/4 + 2/4), that being the reason why they sound the same.

      Oh! Darling, however, is an example of authentic 12/8 blues song, with no triplet feel. (In fact, if you activate the triplet feel it stops sounding right (give it a try).

      Hope this clarifies the matter. Cheers!

      1. PianoHarry

        12/8 time does exist and is usually referred to as a “Compound Quadruple”. Each beat is made up of a “triplet”. (three notes). Any time signature with a 12 on the top is a compound quadruple. 12/8 and 12/16 are the most common.

      2. earwicker

        One thing you’d need to clarify further is:

        > Another song that is commonly mistaken all over the internet as being a 12/8 but is actually a 4/4 with Triplet feel, is The Beach Boys’ “Wouldn’t It Be Nice”.

        And then:

        > Any of this 4/4 songs can be written either in 4/4 or 12/8 in sheet music software, and in both signatures they are going to sound correct and exactly the same as long as they have the above mentioned ‘Triplet Feel’ activated.

        If “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” would sound exactly the same notated as 12/8 or 4/4-with-triplet-feel, what makes you say that it’s “actually” 4/4-with-triplet-feel and anyone calling it 12/8 is “mistaken”?

    3. Roland St Germain

      By itself, Magical Mystery Tour is a great album, I agree – what makes it even more amazing is that it was released six months after Sgt. Pepper. Most groups today would follow the misguided advice of their management and just sit on such an album until sales of the current release started to die down, a strategy that doesn’t always work. I remember at the time watching the chart position of both albums in 1967 as they had a period of swapping back and forth between #1 and #2.

      In typical Beatles fashion at the time, each album had its own unique feel – it was among the reasons why we all anxiously awaited the next release, and provided plenty of material for us to try to figure out “How did they pull THAT off?” in sooooo many garage band jams. There has not been another group since that continues to sell as well as The Beatles over 50 years later, and I doubt there will ever be another.

  2. grego mac

    Check out the mono version of this if you haven’t. It is completely different. It is phased. More like dance-hall on acid, kind of. Great sounds on this song.

  3. Tweeze

    This is an instantly appealing tune which ultimately goes no where. It’s not like it necessarily should mean anything, right? The Beatles have plenty of nonsense lyrics and this is just another. Yet it ultimately frustrates by pulling the listener in with a compelling melody worthy of a pied-piper and then hits with a repetitive lyric that almost sounds like an insult involving ‘your mother’. She should know. I’ve often thought what stratospheric heights this song could have become if the lyrics had actually be worthwhile, but I tend to think this of a lot of McCartney tunes – especially his solo work. A great tune that becomes dispensible. Sorry, folks.

    1. paulsbass

      You got it:
      “It’s not like it necessarily should mean anything, right?”
      It’s just a fantastic song that doesn’t mean anything!
      Well done, Paul, I love it!

    2. brian

      It’s kind of meaningless yes, in a “granny shit” kind of way as John might say. But would anyone throw stones let alone pebbles at The Beatles quntessential meaningless song “I Am The Walrus” ?

    3. wopthedo

      I agree wholeheartedly. The song starts so well, but it’s not developed, as if PM was saying ‘Where do I go from here?’. I suppose he could have asked Lennon. In fact, the laziest song the Beatles ever produced

  4. william

    This is one of the weakest tracks ever released by the Beatles. There was no point to this song. I know these types of turn of the century songs were being recorded by Pink Floyd and the Stones during this period, but Paul’s were far weaker. I have put together a list of the 5 worst Beatle songs and this one is number three:

    1. Mr. Moonlight
    2. Honey Pie
    3. Your Mother Should Know
    4. Maxwell’s Silver Hammer
    5. I Dig a Pony

    When I’m 64 escapes the list because its whimsicality sort of fits on Sergeant Pepper, but then Paul went on and did it three more times. The fifth worst Beatles’ song, I Dig a Pony is far, far stronger than Honey Pie, Maxwell’s Silver Hammer or I Dig a Pony (or Good-Night, which is probably 6th–indeed, the White Album didn’t have the greatest ending).

    1. GeorgeTSimpson

      I would call their first four british albums their 55 worst songs. I like Your Mother Should Knows as I like all of Paul’s granny songs (my ranking is
      1. Honey Pie
      2. Maxwell’s Silver Hammer
      3. Your Mother Should Know
      4. When I’m 64; these are the four beatles songs which I would call “granny music”)

  5. Joaco

    I think it’s awesome this song actually has a video. Also I don’t see what’s the deal with all this worst song rating (why aren’t you guys listning Revolution 9 there for that matter?). I love Paul’s “granny” songs just as much as his heavier tracks like Helter and I’ve Got A Feeling.

  6. Russ

    Its one of my favorite songs. Not the best song but a favorite. A memory I have is playing it for my mother in my room on a record player when she wanted to know what stuff I was listening to. Guess what? she said it was just ok!

  7. iselliot

    Just to clarify some earlier comments this song is definitely in 4/4 time. But it does have a slight swing in the melody which you would notate as dotted eighths on paper. As for 12/8 – there certainly is such a thing and Old Brown Shoe is a good up-tempo example although you could also just call it a fast shuffle. Many old doo-wop tunes and songs like “The Stroll” are in 12/8. “I Can’t Help Falling In Love With You” comes to mind. ONE two three, TWO two three, THREE two three, FOUR two three. Lots of gospel music is in this signature.

    1. Bryan

      12/8 can be found in bluesier tunes such as the Stones version of Robert Johnson’s “Love In Vain” as well as Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Tuesday’s Gone”.

      1. Bubba McGee

        I never liked this song at all. There was some obvious junk in the later albums…Revolution #9 is absurd. “Dig It” etc. But as far as something that is actually a song, this one I have always considered one of McCartney’s weaker songs. There is nothing about it that compels me to want to hear it ever again. The only McCartney song that is worse, that I can think of, is Every Little Thing. But hey, he gave us like 100 great songs, songs I love to hear again and again. There has got to be a couple throw ins.

        1. Joseph Brush

          Well Bubba, this song is not junk. Neither is Every Little Thing. Paul’s so called “granny songs” like Your Mother Should Know are unique to this timeframe in popular music especially when one considers the other songs on the MMT album. It’s on the same soundtrack as I Am The Walrus and Blue Jay Way!
          Paul McCartney (and Ray Davies) were writing several songs that harken back to the days before rock and roll. Pre-rock has its merits as well.

  8. James Ferrell

    I think one of the problems in the perception of Magical Mystery Tour is that a few of the songs are sort of re-dos of Sgt Pepper songs. This makes MMT seem a bit formulaic. There is again an introduction song (SPLHCB vs. MMT) and a Paul granny song (WISF vs YMSK) and a dirge/Indian-like George song (WYAWO vs, BJW). So at the time the latter suffered as a repeat of the former.

    I was a kid when the two came out and I got to know the MMT songs before I got to know the SP songs, and so I have a particular affinity for the MMT songs. That said, even now in retrospect, “Your Mother Should Know” is really good in any context. A nice melody, nice chord changes, and a cool scene in the MMT movie.

    Time to shovel some more spaghetti!


    There was no Magical Mystery Tour LP initially released in the UK. Instead, an EP was released with a few songs written for the movie. I agree that Your Mother Should Know is weak, but it fits with the goofy movie scene. The US LP release was a copulation of MMT movie tunes and British released singles.

  10. John S

    Regarding the discussion of time signature: there is often more than one correct method for counting a piece of music. 12/8 is surely a tenuous way to count this one, though. Your foot will be flapping manically, as well as with a two against three polyrhythm, which is surely not the feel of this old-timey two-beat here. 12/8 does apply fittingly to Oh, Darling, which has the familiar blues triple feel, which can also be thought of as 6/8, and is nothing like the two-beat music hall bounce of Your Mother Should Know. This is more of a cut time feel. Imagine trying to count the typical 4/4 jazz cymbal ride if you actually counted the triplet, rolling undercurrent. You can’t practically count it that way.

    Here is a good discussion of cut time that I looked up after reading the posts here.

  11. Jay

    An additional comment on the 12/8 time signature: Another example old song with a 12/8 beat is the song ‘Impossible Dream.’

    And, have anyone already mentioned “All My Loving” as an example of a 4/4 beat with a triplet feel or swing feel?

    The triplet feel on ‘All My Loving’ was made more obvious by John’s “triplet beat strumming” that added thick rhythm / accompaniment to the song.

  12. Lennon-Harrison fan

    This is the most boring filler song since
    Fixing a Hole and Lovely Rita, which were also McCartney songs, and before that
    Good Day Sunshine, which was also a McCartney song, and before that I’ve Just Seen A Face, which was also a- ah, you get the point.

    1. Jay S

      LH fan…….are you daft? That’s akin to suggesting that A Day In The Life, Tomorrow Never Knows and Help! were filler songs as well. For crying out loud!!!

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