- Published on 1964
- Author: Lennon/McCartney
- Track 3 on “Beatles For Sale“
JOHN 1980: “Written together in the same room.”
PAUL circa-1994: “We wanted to write something a little bit darker, bluesy… 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… When people wrote out the music score they would ask, ‘Which one is the melody?’ because it was co-written that you could actually take either. We rather liked this one.”
About “Baby’s in Black”
“Baby’s in Black” was co-written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney. It appears on the United Kingdom album Beatles for Sale and on the United States album Beatles ’65, both released in 1964. The time signature of the song is 6/8, which is typical for waltzes with a moderate tempo. An AllMusic critic described the song as “a love lament for a grieving girl that was perhaps more morose than any previous Beatles’ song.” Musicologist Alan W. Pollack notes that Baby’s in Black” is relatively complex in format, with a refrain, bridge, and a guitar solo. He describes the song as having “mishmash” of stylistic elements—among them, “bluesy” chords and country music-inspired vocals.
In August 1964, “Baby’s in Black” was recorded as the first song for Beatles for Sale. Both Lennon and McCartney sang simultaneously through the same microphone. This was done at their own insistence in order to achieve a closer feel to the performance. Their music publisher contacted McCartney in 1964 to ask which melody line was the main tune (Paul’s higher or John’s lower melody). McCartney later said that he told the publisher they were both the main melody.
“Baby’s in Black” was performed live by The Beatles on their final tour from late 1964 to 1966. McCartney said they introduced the song by saying, “‘And now for something different.’ … We used to put that in there, and think, ‘Well, they won’t know quite what to make of this, but it’s cool.’ The song was released as a B-side of “Real Love“, their second single from the Anthology series, in 1996.
Meaning of “Baby’s in Black”
The song is about a woman who is mourning the loss of her lover, who has passed away. The lyrics describe her wearing black as a symbol of her grief and mourning. The narrator expresses sympathy and understanding for her sorrow, acknowledging the depth of her pain.
While the song has a somber theme, musically it features a catchy melody and harmonies, which is characteristic of The Beatles’ early style. The contrast between the upbeat music and the melancholic lyrics creates an interesting emotional dynamic.
“Baby’s in Black” showcases The Beatles’ ability to infuse depth and emotion into their songs, even within the framework of their pop-oriented sound. It’s considered one of the more mature and emotionally resonant tracks from their early period.
- John Lennon – vocal, acoustic rhythm guitar
- Paul McCartney – vocal, bass guitar
- George Harrison – lead guitar
- Ringo Starr – drums, tambourine
How to play “Baby’s in Black” on guitar
“Baby’s in Black” features a blend of folk and rock elements, and it’s known for its melancholic lyrics and harmonies.
The guitar parts in “Baby’s in Black” are played using a combination of acoustic and electric guitars. The song starts with a distinctive arpeggio picked on an acoustic guitar, which sets the mood for the song. This arpeggio is played throughout most of the song. During the verses, the guitar maintains a fingerpicked pattern.
In the chorus, the guitar chords become more strummed, giving the song a fuller sound. The electric guitar may also come in with some subtle lead lines or fills to complement the vocals and add texture to the music. The guitar work in “Baby’s in Black” is relatively straightforward, making it accessible for intermediate players.
The following video features guitar cover (rhythm and lead parts) with tab of “Baby’s in Black”:
How to play “Baby’s in Black” on bass
“Baby’s in Black” features a fairly simple but effective bassline played by Paul McCartney. It is primarily played on a Hofner 500/1 bass, which is the iconic bass guitar associated with McCartney.
During the verses, the bassline maintains a steady rhythm, often emphasizing the root notes of the chords being played by the guitars. In the chorus, the bassline becomes more dynamic, following the chord changes more closely. It provides a strong rhythmic and harmonic support to the vocals and guitars.
Paul McCartney’s bass playing in “Baby’s in Black” is a great example of his melodic and supportive bass style. It complements the song’s melancholic atmosphere and contributes to the overall sound of the track.
The following video features bass cover with tab of “Baby’s in Black”:
“Baby’s in Black” karaoke
For those who want to sing “Baby’s in Black”, the following video presents the karaoke version of the song: