Song facts: The Ballad of John and Yoko
The Ballad of John and Yoko was written by John Lennon in Paris in 1969; a recounting of John and Yoko's wedding and subsequent honeymoon.
"Well, guess who wrote that? I wrote that in Paris on our honeymoon. It's a piece of journalism. It's a folk song. That's why I called it The Ballad Of.
It was very romantic. It's all in the song, The Ballad Of John And Yoko, if you want to know how it happened, it's in there. Gibraltar was like a little sunny dream. I couldn't find a white suit - I had sort if off-white corduroy trousers and a white jacket. Yoko had all white on." - John Lennon
Three days after the release of The Beatles' Get Back single, on April 14th 1969, John traveled to Paul's home to work on the song.
After a brief stop at McCartney's, John and Paul went into the studio that day and recorded the song in 11 takes, with George Martin producing.
I enjoyed working with John and Yoko on The Ballad Of John And Yoko. It was just the two of them with Paul. When you think about it, in a funny kind of way it was the beginning of their own label, and their own way of recording. It was hardly a Beatle track. It was a kind of thin end of the wedge, as far as they were concerned. John had already mentally left the group anyway, and I think that was just the beginning of it all. - George Martin
Ringo was busing filming The Magic Christian and George was on holiday, so it was only Lennon/McCartney who played on the track. John was reportedly very eager to record the song in a burst of inspiration and didn't want to wait for George and Ringo's return.
"John was in an impatient mood so I was happy to help. It's quite a good song; it has always surprised me how with just the two of us on it, it ended up sounding like The Beatles." - Paul McCartney
"The Ballad Of John And Yoko only had Paul - of the other Beatles - on it but that was OK. Why Don't We Do It In The Road? was just Paul and me, and it went out as a Beatle track too. We had no problems with that. There's good drums on The Ballad Of John And Yoko, too." - Ringo Starr
11 takes were recorded in all at this speedy session, with Paul providing drums, bass, piano, maracas and backing vocals. John sang lead vocals and played lead guitar, acoustic guitar and percussion.
- John Lennon – lead vocal, lead guitars, acoustic guitar, percussion
- Paul McCartney – harmony vocal, bass, drums, piano, maracas
Backed by George Harrison's Old Brown Shoe, The Ballad of John and Yoko was released as a single in the UK on May 30th, 1969. It was released later in the US on June 4th. In Europe and the UK it was the first Beatles' single to be released in stereo, so there was no mono mix.
The single reached number one in the UK on June 11th 1969, remaining there for three consecutive weeks; making it The Beatles' 17th and final UK number one. In the US the single failed to reach the top spot, peaking at number eight on the Billboard Hot 100.