Song facts: Honey Pie

On October 1st 1968, The Beatles recorded Honey Pie, a new Paul McCartney song for the band's forthcoming White Album, at Trident Studios, London. 

Only one take was recorded on this day, with McCartney on piano, Ringo on drums, Lennon on lead guitar and Harrison on bass; the following day McCartney taped his vocals, and according to George Harrison, Lennon provided the distinctive lead guitar.

On October 4th, session musicians were then used to record George Martin’s woodwind arrangement. This consisted of five saxophones and two clarinets.

John played a brilliant solo on Honey Pie - sounded like Django Reinhardt or something. It was one of them where you just close your eyes and happen to hit all the right notes... sounded like a little jazz solo. - George Harrison
"We put a sound on my voice to make it sound like a scratchy old record. So it's not a parody, it's a nod to the vaudeville tradition that I was raised on." - Paul McCartney

Honey Pie was written solely by McCartney as a homage to the old British music hall style of music. Honey Pie, an actress who hits the big time in the USA leaves behind a lover forlorn and lamenting her return on the boat that took her from him. To get the authentic effect on Paul's voice George Martin fed his vocals through a compressor and superimposed actually noise from a scratchy old phonograph record. 

"Both John and I had a great love for music hall, what the Americans call vaudeville... I very much liked that old crooner style, the strange fruity voice that they used, so Honey Pie was me writing one of them to an imaginary woman, across the ocean, on the silver screen, who was called Honey Pie. It's another of my fantasy songs." - Paul McCartney
 

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Personnel

  • Paul McCartney – vocal, piano, lead guitar, rhythm guitar, saxophone and clarinet arrangement
  • John Lennon – rhythm guitar, lead guitar
  • George Harrison – six-stringed bass
  • Ringo Starr – drums
  • George Martin – saxophone and clarinet arrangement

Woodwind musicians

  • Harry Klein – saxophone
  • Dennis Walton – saxophone
  • Ronald Chamberlain – saxophone
  • Jim Chester – saxophone
  • Rex Morris – saxophone
  • Raymond Newman – clarinet
  • David Smith – clarinet
The Beatles working on Honey Pie for the White Album, at Trident Studios, October 1968. 

The Beatles working on Honey Pie for the White Album, at Trident Studios, October 1968. 

Paul McCartney and George Harrison recording Honey Pie with session musicians, October 1968. 

Paul McCartney and George Harrison recording Honey Pie with session musicians, October 1968. 

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