Song facts: Baby's in Black

On August 11th 1964, just over a month after the release of A Hard Day's Night, The Beatles began work on their fourth studio album Beatles for Sale.  

Just like Please Please Me and With the Beatles, Beatles for Sale is a mixture of original songs and rock and roll standards from the likes of Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly and Carl Perkins.

The first track they worked on was a John Lennon waltz called Baby's in Black, co-written with Paul McCartney. 14 takes of the song were recorded with John and Paul singing into the same microphone.

"It was very much co-written and we both sang it. Sometimes the harmony that I was writing in sympathy to John's melody would take over and become a stronger melody. Suddenly a piebald rabbit came out of the hat! When people wrote out the music score they would ask, 'Which one is the melody?' because it was so co-written that you could actually take either. We rather liked this one. It was not so much a work job, there was a bit more cred about this one. It's got a good middle." - Paul McCartney

Release

Baby's in Black was released on Beatles for Sale in the UK and Beatles '65 in North America. In 1996 a live version from their final tour in 1966 was released as the B-side to Real Love.

The Beatles performed the song live from late 1964 right up to their last tour in 1966.

"Baby's In Black we did because we like waltz time - we used to do If You Gotta Make A Fool Of Somebody, a cool 3/4 blues thing. And other bands would notice that and say, 'Shit man, you're doing something in 3/4.' So we'd got known for that. And I think also John and I wanted to do something bluesy, a bit darker, more grown-up, rather than just straight pop. It was more 'baby's in black' as in mourning. Our favourite colour was black, as well." - Paul McCartney

Personnel

  • John Lennon – vocal, acoustic rhythm guitar
  • Paul McCartney – vocal, bass guitar
  • George Harrison – lead guitar
  • Ringo Starr – drums
Beatles for Sale photo shoot by Robert Freeman, 1964. 

Beatles for Sale photo shoot by Robert Freeman, 1964. 

George Harrison and John Lennon recording Beatles for Sale, 1964.

George Harrison and John Lennon recording Beatles for Sale, 1964.

George Harrison and John Lennon recording Beatles for Sale, 1964.

George Harrison and John Lennon recording Beatles for Sale, 1964.