- Published on 1969
- Author: Lennon/McCartney
- Track 4 on “Abbey Road“
JOHN 1980: “‘Oh! Darling’ was a great one of Paul’s that he didn’t sing too well. I always thought that I could’ve done it better– it was more my style than his. He wrote it, so what the hell, he’s going to sing it. If he’d had any sense he should have let me sing it.” (laughs)
PAUL circa-1994: “I mainly remember wanting to get the vocal right, wanting to get it good, and I ended up trying each morning as I came into the recording session. I tried it with a hand mike, and I tried it with a standing mike, I tried it every which way, and finally got the vocal I was reasonably happy with. It’s a bit of a belter and if it comes off lukewarm then you’ve missed the whole point. It was unusual for me– I would normally try all the goes at a vocal in one day.”
GEORGE: “A typical 1950s–’60s-period song because of its chord structure”
Info about “Oh! Darling”
“Oh! Darling” was primarily composed by Paul McCartney with some input from John Lennon. It was released on 1969 album “Abbey Road.” The initial working title for the song was “Oh! Darling (I’ll Never Do You No Harm).”
The basic track for the song was recorded on April 20, 1969, followed by numerous overdub sessions. During these sessions, McCartney made multiple attempts at recording the lead vocal. Ian MacDonald, a Beatles historian, described the backing vocals as “exquisite,” though lamented that they were somewhat subdued in the mix. Engineer Geoff Emerick recalled that McCartney chose to sing with the backing track playing over speakers, rather than using headphones, to capture the sensation of performing for a live audience.
An early demo of “Oh! Darling” was recorded by McCartney at Twickenham Studios on January 16, 1969, during the Get Back sessions. Notably, the other Beatles were absent during this recording. The song and the following improvisation are included on the Anthology 3. This version also features a keyboard part played by Billy Preston.
The song’s musical style is rooted in rhythm and blues, incorporating elements of doo-wop and the New Orleans rhythm and blues sound popular in the 1950s and early 1960s. It is thought to have drawn influences from the Louisiana swamp blues sound found in songs like Slim Harpo’s “Rainin’ in My Heart” and Charles Brown’s “Please Come Home for Christmas.”
Moreover, it may have been influenced by the related Louisiana genre known as swamp pop. Its distinctive sound bears striking resemblance to the basic structure of “Oh! Darling” to the point where some in Louisiana initially believed the song was recorded by a local musician. In fact, when swamp pop artist John Fred met the Beatles in 1960s London, he was astonished to discover that ‘they were very familiar with Louisiana music.’ Fittingly, swamp pop musician Jay Randall eventually covered “Oh! Darling” for the Lanor label, based in Church Point, Louisiana.
The song continues to be celebrated as a significant piece in the Beatles’ extensive discography, known for its passionate vocals and emotional intensity. It was even performed live by Paul McCartney and Chrissie Hynde of The Pretenders during a memorial concert for Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins on September 3, 2022.
Meaning of “Oh! Darling”
The lyrics of the song express a plea for love and affection. The narrator is singing to a lover, expressing a deep desire for his affection and attention. The song is filled with emotional intensity and longing, and McCartney’s passionate vocals add to the raw, heartfelt nature of the lyrics.
Overall, “Oh! Darling” is a love song that conveys the yearning and desperation one might feel when they are deeply in love and are afraid of losing their beloved. The title phrase “Oh! Darling” is an exclamation of intense feelings and desire for lover.
- Paul McCartney – lead and backing vocals, bass
- John Lennon – backing vocals, piano
- George Harrison – backing vocals, electric guitar
- Ringo Starr – drums