Song facts: Birthday

On September 18th 1968, The Beatles recorded Birthday for The White Album - a song McCartney claims to have written equally with John Lennon during a jamming session on this day.

Paul arrived early in the morning at Abbey Road to work on a guitar piece; the other Beatles showed up later and started jamming with Paul, and the track just grew out of that. 

"We thought, 'Why not make something up?' So we got a riff going and arranged it around this riff. We said, 'We'll go to there for a few bars, then we'll do this for a few bars.' We added some lyrics, then we got the friends who were there to join in on the chorus. So that is 50-50 John and me, made up on the spot and recorded all on the same evening.
I don't recall it being anybody's birthday in particular but it might have been, but the other reason for doing it is that, if you have a song that refers to Christmas or a birthday, it adds to the life of the song, if it's a good song, because people will pull it out on birthday shows, so I think there was a little bit of that at the back of our minds." Paul McCartney

20 takes of the song were recorded, with take 19 chosen as the best. Pattie Boyd and Yoko Ono sang backing vocals, while Beatle friend and road manager Mal Evans joined in providing hand claps.

Birthday appears as the opening track on side 2 of The Beatles' White Album and is an ode to their early rock and roll roots, with its sparse production values and simple rock structure.

Personnel

  • Paul McCartney – lead vocal, piano, lead guitar, handclaps
  • John Lennon – lead and backing vocals, rhythm guitar, handclaps
  • George Harrison – six-string bass, handclaps, backing vocals
  • Ringo Starr – drums, tambourine, handclaps
  • Pattie Harrison – backing vocal, handclaps
  • Yoko Ono – backing vocal, handclaps
  • Mal Evans – handclaps
John Lennon and Paul McCartney promoting Apple Corps, 1968. 

John Lennon and Paul McCartney promoting Apple Corps, 1968. 

Yoko Ono, John Lennon and Paul McCartney promoting the Beatles' newly formed Apple Corps, 1968.

Yoko Ono, John Lennon and Paul McCartney promoting the Beatles' newly formed Apple Corps, 1968.

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