Birthday (Beatles song)
|Song by the Beatles from the album The Beatles|
|Released||22 November 1968|
|Recorded||18 September 1968|
|Genre||Hard rock, rock and roll|
|The Beatles track listing|
"Birthday" is a song written by Lennon–McCartney and performed by the Beatles on their double album The Beatles (commonly known as The White Album). It is the opening track on the third side of the LP (or the second disc in CD versions of the record). The song is an example of the Beatles' return to more traditional rock and roll form, although their music had increased in complexity and it had developed more of its own characteristic style by this point. McCartney and Ringo Starr performed it for Starr's 70th birthday at Radio City Music Hall on 7 July 2010.
The song was largely written during a recording session at Abbey Road Studios on 18 September 1968 by John Lennon and Paul McCartney. McCartney: "We thought, 'Why not make something up?' So we got a riff going and arranged it around this riff. So that is 50-50 John and me, made up on the spot and recorded all in the same evening." During the session, the Beatles and the recording crew made a short trip around the corner to McCartney's house to watch the 1956 rock & roll movie The Girl Can't Help It which was being shown for the first time on British television. After the movie they returned to record "Birthday".
George Martin was away so his assistant Chris Thomas produced the session. His memory is that the song was mostly Paul's: "Paul was the first one in, and he was playing the 'Birthday' riff. Eventually the others arrived, by which time Paul had literally written the song, right there in the studio." Everyone in the studio sang in the chorus and it was 5 am by the time the final mono mix was completed.
John Lennon said in his Playboy interview in 1980: "'Birthday' was written in the studio. Just made up on the spot. I think Paul wanted to write a song like 'Happy Birthday Baby' [sic], the old fifties hit. But it was sort of made up in the studio. It was a piece of garbage."
"Birthday" begins with an intro drum fill, then moves directly into a blues progression in A (in the form of a guitar riff doubled by the bass) with McCartney singing at the top of his chest voice with Lennon on a lower harmony. After this section, a drum break lasting eight measures brings the song into the middle section, which rests entirely on the dominant. A repeat of the blues progression/guitar riff instrumental section, augmented by piano brings the song into a bridge before returning to a repeat of the first vocal section.
- Paul McCartney – lead vocal, piano, lead guitar, handclaps
- John Lennon – lead and backing vocals, lead guitar, handclaps
- George Harrison – six-string bass, handclaps, backing vocals (sporadically)
- Ringo Starr – drums, tambourine, handclaps
- Pattie Harrison – backing vocal, handclaps
- Yoko Ono – backing vocal, handclaps
- Mal Evans – handclaps
|Single by Paul McCartney|
|B-side||"Good Day Sunshine"|
|Released||8 October 1990 (UK)
16 October 1990 (US)
|Paul McCartney singles chronology|
McCartney released a live version in 8 October 1990 in the UK, with a US release albeit only as a cassette on 16 October. The single reached number 29 on the UK singles chart. The B-side was a live version of "Good Day Sunshine". McCartney also released a 12" single and CD single with those songs and two more tracks, "P.S. Love Me Do" and "Let 'Em In". "P.S. Love Me Do" is a combination of "P.S. I Love You" and "Love Me Do".
Underground Sunshine scored a Top 40 hit with this song in the US in 1969.
Paul Weller covered the song for McCartney's 70th birthday. This version was available for download on 18 June 2012 for one day only. Even with this limited mode of distribution, the track reached #64 on the UK charts. John Farnham recorded a version and featured it on compilation set Anthology 3: Rarities There is also a version performed by (the voices of) the Looney Tunes characters.
In other media
- Sound & Vision, Volume 67, Issues 2-5. Michigan: Hachette Filipacchi Magazines. 2001.
Go forward to 1968 and The Beatles (a.k.a. The White Album) and you get a veritable hard-rock clinic on what used to be, in the days of vinyl. Side 3: "Birthday," "Everybody's Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey," "Helter Skelter"
- Gibron, Bill (21 December 1968). "An in-depth Look at the Songs on Side-Three". Rolling Stone. The White Album Project. Retrieved 28 October 2013.
- Fields, Gaylord (8 July 2010). "Paul McCartney Gives Ringo Starr 'Birthday' Present Onstage in New York". spinner.com. Retrieved 14 October 2010.
- "Beatles Songwriting & Recording Database: The White Album". Beatlesinterviews.org. 22 November 1968. Retrieved 17 August 2011.
- Miles, Barry (1997). Paul McCartney: Many Years From Now. New York: Henry Holt & Company. ISBN 0-8050-5249-6.
- Sheff, David, p. 190.All We Are Saying. St Martin's Griffin. 2000. ISBN 0-312-25464-4.
- MacDonald, Ian (2005). Revolution in the Head: The Beatles' Records and the Sixties (Second Revised ed.). London: Pimlico (Rand). p. 316. ISBN 1-84413-828-3.
- Miles, Barry; Badman, Keith, ed. (2001). The Beatles Diary After the Break-Up: 1970–2001 (reprint ed.). London: Music Sales Group. ISBN 978-0-7119-8307-6.
- "Official Charts: Paul McCartney". The Official UK Charts Company. Retrieved 2011-10-13.
- Paul McCartney - Birthday (Vinyl) at Discogs
- Paul McCartney - Birthday (CD) at Discogs
- "Song Premiere: Paul Weller, 'Birthday'". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2012-06-22.
- "The Music of Veronica Mars: Episode 1-11: Silence of the Lamb". Mars Investigations: The (In)Complete Guide to Veronica Mars. Retrieved December 13, 2014.