ON THIS DATE (43 YEARS AGO)
May 30, 1969 – The Beatles: “The Ballad Of John And Yoko” b/w “Old Brown Show” (Apple R 5786) 45 single is released in the UK (June 4, 1969 in the US).
“The Ballad of John and Yoko” is a song written by John Lennon, attributed to Lennon–McCartney as was the custom, and released by The Beatles as a single on this date in May 1969. The song, chronicling the events surrounding Lennon’s marriage to Yoko Ono, was the Beatles’ 17th and final UK number one single.
The song is a ballad in the traditional sense of a narrative poem in a song, not in the sense used in modern pop music where the term usually refers to a slow, sentimental love song. Authored by Lennon while on his honeymoon in Paris, it tells the events of his marriage (in March 1969) to Ono and their publicly-held honeymoon activities, including their ‘Bed-In’ at the Amsterdam Hilton Hotel and their demonstration of ‘bagism’.
Lennon brought the song to McCartney’s home on 14 April 1969, before recording it that evening. The song was recorded without George Harrison (who was on holiday) and Ringo Starr (who was filming The Magic Christian). In his biography, McCartney recalls that Lennon had had a sudden inspiration for the song and had suggested that the two of them should record it immediately, without waiting for the other Beatles to return. Reflecting this somewhat unusual situation, the session recordings include the following exchange:
Lennon (on guitar): “Go a bit faster, Ringo!”
McCartney (on drums): “OK, George!”
This session also marked the return of Geoff Emerick as recording engineer of a Beatle session after he quit working with the group during the tense White Album sessions nine months earlier.