The next tune on the first side of the first record of "The Beatles" white album is an original Lennon/McCartney composition written mainly by Paul entitled "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da". This tune was performed in a "ska" or "reggae" type feel. The expression "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da" was coined by a conga player Jimmy Scott.
The recording of the song commenced on July 03 1968 at EMI studio two with the basic track of Paul playing an acoustic guitar and guide vocal while Ringo played the drums. Seven takes were completed and the seventh take was chosen to receive overdubs including a second acoustic and Paul's lead vocals. After this was done, Paul McCartney decided that he enjoyed the feel of take four rather than take seven and therefore it was decided that the overdubbed acoustic (running slightly hot to make it sound a little distorted) was to be added to take four rather than take seven.
The next day on July 04 1968 at EMI studio two, the vocal overdubs onto take 4 were added with two Paul McCartney vocals (one being the lead and the other one being harmonization). John and George also added backing vocals and "la-la"s in the chorus. A tape reduction was also completed at this session bringing the song into take 5.
The next day on July 05 1968 at EMI studio two, three saxes and bongos (played by Jimmy Scott himself) were overdubbed onto the track. Also added were percussion and bass by Paul. The recording of this version was completed and a mono mix was taken away by Paul over that week-end and it was decided to scrap the whole recording !! The raw studio tape of this version can be heard on Yellow Dog's CD "Unsurpassed Masters 7" and this version can also be heard on the Apple/EMI 3-LP/2-CD "Anthology 3".
On Monday July 08 1968 again in EMI studio two, the song was re-made starting from scratch. The basic track consisted of drums, George on acoustic, John on piano and Paul on bass. Twelve takes were required to perfect the basic track. Once this was completed, a reduction mix was made placing all of the above instruments of the basic track onto track one bringing the song into take thirteen. Overdubbed at this session were the lead vocals and backing vocals as well as percussion. This concluded the session and a mono mix was taken away by Paul once again.
The next day on Tuesday July 09 1968 at EMI studio two, a second re-make was attempted by The Beatles to complete the song. Only two takes of the second re-make were completed before it was decided to abandon the idea of a second re-make and to go back to the first re-make originally recorded the previous day. The previous day's vocals were wiped and the new commercial vocals were completed at this session. Also added to the track were handclaps and percussion. The percussion/handclaps were added after another reduction mix was completed bringing the song into take 22 (although this was only to keep some kind of consistency to the recording since the first re-make would have brought the song to take 14).
On July 11 1968 at EMI studio three, an overdub of three saxes were overdubbed onto the re-make of "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da". Bass guitar was also added after a reduction taking the song into takes 23 and 24. Also at this session the song was given it's first mono mix.
The next day on July 12 1968 from EMI studio two, two more mono mixes (named 10 and 11) were completed for commercial release.
On Monday July 15 1968 at EMI studio two, one of the mono mixes was taken away by Paul McCartney and it was decided to re-record his lead vocal on this night as he was not completed satisfied with it. Once the vocal overdub was completed, 10 more mono mixes were attempted (named 12-21) and completed.
On Saturday October 12 1968 from the control room of EMI studio two, "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da" was given a stereo mix. Four attempts were completed for the stereo mix.
"Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da" can be found on the Apple 2-LP/2-CD "The Beatles" (White Album) as well as the Apple 2-LP/2-CD "The Beatles 1967-1970". On November 08 1976, Capitol Records in North America released "Ob-La-Da, Ob-La-Da" as a single with the B-side being "Julia". This single only made number 49 in Billboard becoming the first Capitol Beatles single not to chart in the top 30.
Paul McCartney has performed "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da" for his "Up and Coming" tour of 2010 at various venues around the world.