Song facts: Hello, Goodbye

On October 2nd 1967, The Beatles recorded a new Paul McCartney song Hello, Goodbye for their forthcoming Magical Mystery Tour film and record. 14 takes were recorded on this day and take 14 was chosen as the best.

"From the recording aspect I remember the end bit where there's the pause and it goes 'Heba, heba hello'. We had those words and we had this whole thing recorded but it didn't sound quite right, and I remember asking Geoff Emerick if we could really whack up the echo on the tom-toms. And we put this echo full up on the tom-toms and it just came alive. We Phil Spector'd it. And I noticed that this morning and I said to Linda, 'Wait! Full echo on the toms, here we go!' And they came in quite deep, like a precursor to Adam and the Ants." - Pau McCartney

Personnel

  • Paul McCartney – lead vocal, backing vocal, piano, bass, bongos, conga
  • John Lennon – backing vocal, lead guitar, Hammond organ
  • George Harrison – backing vocal, lead guitar
  • Ringo Starr – drums, maracas, tambourine

    The song was written solely by Paul, although credited to Lennon/McCartney as standard. According to McCartney he wrote Hello, Goodbye while reflecting on duality and his astrological sign of Gemini. 

    "Hello, Goodbye was one of my songs. There are Geminian influences here I think: the twins. It's such a deep theme in the universe, duality - man woman, black white, ebony ivory, high low, right wrong, up down, hello goodbye - that it was a very easy song to write. It's just a song of duality, with me advocating the more positive. You say goodbye, I say hello. You say stop, I say go. I was advocating the more positive side of the duality, and I still do to this day." - Paul McCartney

    Brian Epstein's former personal assistant Alistair Taylor claimed that Paul wrote the song in London with Taylor present, after he enquired about McCartney's songwriting.

    "Paul marched me into the dining room, where he had a marvellous old hand-carved harmonium. 'Come and sit at the other end of the harmonium. You hit any note you like on the keyboard. Just hit it and I'll do the same. Now whenever I shout out a word, you shout the opposite and I'll make up a tune. You watch, it'll make music'...

    'Black,' he started. 'White,' I replied. 'Yes.' 'No.' 'Good.' 'Bad.' Hello.' 'Goodbye.'

    I wonder whether Paul really made up that song as he went along or whether it was running through his head already." - Alistair Taylor

    Release

    The song was recorded too late to be used in the Magical Mystery Tour film; instead Hello, Goodbye was chosen as The Beatles' Christmas single of 1967. Lennon had argued that I Am the Walrus should be the A-side, but George Martin and Paul McCartney disagreed, insisting on Hello, Goodbye as the more commercially viable song. It was released on November 24th in the UK and three days later on November 27th in the US. 

    "That's another McCartney. Smells a mile away, doesn't it? An attempt to write a single. It wasn't a great piece; the best bit was the end, which we all ad-libbed in the studio, where I played the piano. Like one of my favourite bits on Ticket To Ride, where we just threw something in at the end." - John Lennon

    Chart success

    The single reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 on December 30th 1967, remaining there for three straight weeks. It also climbed to the top of the UK Singles Chart on December 9th, 1967.

     Paul McCartney and George Harrison filming the promo video for Hello, Goodbye, November 10th 1967. 

    Paul McCartney and George Harrison filming the promo video for Hello, Goodbye, November 10th 1967. 

    Promotional video

    On November 10th 1967, The Beatles filmed three promotional clips for Hello, Goodbye. McCartney directed the videos at London's Saville Theatre.

    "I directed the promo film we made for Hello, Goodbye. Directing a film is something that everyone always wants to get into. It was something I'd always been interested in, until I actually tried it. Then I realised it was too much like hard work. Someone summed it up when they said: 'There's always someone arriving saying: "Do you want the gold pistols or the silver pistols?"' Then you think: 'Um, um...' There was so much of that going on - so many decisions to be made - that I ended up hating it.

    I didn't really direct the film - all we needed was a couple of cameras, some good cameramen, a bit of sound and some dancing girls. I thought, 'We'll just hire a theatre and show up there one afternoon.' And that was what we did: we took our Sgt Pepper suits along and filmed at the Saville Theatre in the West End." - Paul McCartney

    "I said, 'Look, can we get a theatre anywhere? How about Brian's? Is it ever empty for a minute or two? An afternoon? Sure, great.' So we went down there, got some girls in Hawaiian skirts, got our Sgt Pepper outfits on, and I just ran out there: 'Get a shot of this! Do this for a bit now! Let's have a shot there! Get a close-up of him! Get the girls on their own! Go back there! Get a wide angle! We'll edit it, we'll make it work.' It was very thrown away. Nice to do stuff like that." - Paul McCartney

     Hello, Goodbye/I Am the Walrus single sleeve, 1967.

    Hello, Goodbye/I Am the Walrus single sleeve, 1967.

     Hello, Goodbye/I Am the Walrus single sleeve, 1967.

    Hello, Goodbye/I Am the Walrus single sleeve, 1967.

     Hello, Goodbye/I Am the Walrus single sleeve, 1967.

    Hello, Goodbye/I Am the Walrus single sleeve, 1967.