Picture sleeve for the 1970 Japanese single release
|Song by the Beatles|
|from the album Abbey Road|
|Released||26 September 1969|
|Recorded||20 April – 11 August 1969|
EMI Studios, London
"Oh! Darling" is a song by the English rock band the Beatles, composed by Paul McCartney (credited to Lennon–McCartney), and appearing as the fourth song on the 1969 album Abbey Road. Its working title was "Oh! Darling (I'll Never Do You No Harm)". Although not issued as a single in either the United Kingdom or the United States, a regional subsidiary of Capitol successfully edited it as a single in Central America, having "Maxwell's Silver Hammer" as its B-side. It was also issued as a single in Portugal. Apple Records released "Oh! Darling" in Japan with "Here Comes the Sun" in June 1970.
McCartney later said of recording the track, "When we were recording 'Oh! Darling' I came into the studios early every day for a week to sing it by myself because at first my voice was too clear. I wanted it to sound as though I'd been performing it on stage all week." He would only try the song once each day; if it was not right he would wait until the next day. According to sound engineer Alan Parsons, McCartney once lamented that "five years ago I could have done this in a flash". In a 1980 interview with Playboy magazine, John Lennon said, "'Oh! Darling' was a great one of Paul's that he didn't sing too well. I always thought I could have done it better – it was more my style than his. He wrote it, so what the hell, he's going to sing it."
Let It Be session
After an early attempt at this song on 27 January 1969 during the Let It Be sessions, Lennon announced, "Just heard that Yoko's divorce has just gone through", after which he and the band burst into an improvised version of the song, substituting "I'm free at last" for a part of the lyric. The song and the following improvisation are included on the Anthology 3 CD. This version also features a keyboard part played by Billy Preston.
The basic track was recorded on 20 April 1969. There were many overdub sessions, including McCartney's aforementioned attempts at the lead vocal. According to Ian MacDonald, the backing vocals were "exquisite", but "sadly underplayed in the mix". Engineer Geoff Emerick recalled that McCartney sang while the backing track played over speakers, instead of headphones, because he wanted to feel as though he was singing to a live audience. The song is one of several tracks on Abbey Road that have never been performed onstage by McCartney or any other of the Beatles to date.
- Paul McCartney – lead and backing vocals, bass
- John Lennon – backing vocals, piano
- George Harrison – backing vocals, electric guitar
- Ringo Starr – drums
- Billy Preston – Fender Rhodes (on the Anthology 3 version).
- Lennon also plays electric guitar on the Anthology 3 version.
- Personnel per Ian MacDonald
"Oh! Darling" appears to have drawn heavily on the New Orleans rhythm and blues sound popularised during the 1950s and early 1960s by African-American musicians such as Fats Domino; it also seems to have drawn on the Louisiana swamp blues sound found in songs like Slim Harpo's "Rainin' in My Heart" and Charles Brown's "Please Come Home for Christmas". Furthermore, it may have drawn on the related Louisiana genre known today as swamp pop, whose distinctive sound bears an uncanny resemblance to the basic structure of "Oh! Darling" – so much so that some in Louisiana originally thought the song had been recorded by a local musician. (When swamp pop musician John Fred met the Beatles in London in the 1960s, he was shocked to learn that "they were very familiar with Louisiana music.") Fittingly, swamp pop musician Jay Randall eventually covered "Oh! Darling" for the Lanor label of Church Point, Louisiana.
Notable cover versions
Robin Gibb, Bee Gees version
Picture sleeve for German and Belgian single releases
|Single by Robin Gibb, Bee Gees|
|from the album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band|
|B-side||"She's Leaving Home"|
|Recorded||September 1977 |
Cherokee Studios, Los Angeles
|Genre||Rhythm and blues, soul|
|Robin Gibb singles chronology|
|Bee Gees singles chronology|
In 1978, "Oh! Darling" was released on the Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band soundtrack. It was also released as Robin Gibb's fourth solo single. It reached number 15 on the Billboard pop chart and number 22 in the US Adult Contemporary Charts on 7 October 1978. It was Gibb's highest charting single in the United States.
|New Zealand RIANZ Singles Chart||40|
|Norway VG-lista Singles Chart||40|
|US Billboard Hot 100||15|
|US Billboard Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks||22|
- Perone, James E. The Album: A Guide to Pop Music's Most Provocative, Influential, and Important Creations. p. 213.
- "Oh! Darling" at AllMusic
- John Shepherd; David Horn (8 March 2012). Continuum Encyclopedia of Popular Music of the World Volume 8: Genres: North America. A&C Black. p. 470. ISBN 978-1-4411-4874-2. Retrieved 7 October 2015.
- Lynch, Joe (26 September 2014). "The Beatles' Abbey Road Turns 45: Classic Track-By-Track Review". Billboard. Retrieved 31 December 2018.
- Sheff 2000, p. 203.
- Lewisohn 1988, p. 174.
- The Beatles 2000, p. 339.
- Dowlding 1989, p. 282.
- Bernard 1993, p. 106.
- Lewisohn 1988, p. 168.
- Anthology 3 liner notes
- MacDonald 2005, p. 350.
- "67 - 'Oh! Darling'". 100 Greatest Beatles Songs. Rolling Stone. Retrieved 18 June 2012.
- Bernard 1993, pp. 106–107.
- "Robin Gibb - Chart history". Billboard. Retrieved 14 July 2013.
- "charts.nz - Robin Gibb - Oh! Darling". charts.nz. Retrieved 17 December 2014.
- "Robin Gibb - Oh! Darling". norwegiancharts.com. Retrieved 17 December 2014.
- The Beatles (2000). The Beatles Anthology. San Francisco: Chronicle Books. ISBN 0-8118-2684-8.
- Bernard, Shane K. (1993). Swamp Pop: Cajun and Creole Rhythm and Blues. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi.
- Dowlding, William J. (1989). Beatlesongs. New York: Fireside. ISBN 0-671-68229-6.
- Lewisohn, Mark (1988). The Beatles Recording Sessions. New York: Harmony Books. ISBN 0-517-57066-1.
- MacDonald, Ian (2005). Revolution in the Head: The Beatles' Records and the Sixties (Second Revised ed.). London: Pimlico (Rand). ISBN 1-84413-828-3.
- Sheff, David (2000). All We Are Saying: The Last Major Interview with John Lennon and Yoko Ono. New York: St. Martin's Press. ISBN 0-312-25464-4.
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