I’m Only Sleeping

“I’m Only Sleeping” is a Beatles’ song from their 1966 album, “Revolver”. However, their rehearsals and “take 1” is on their “Anthology 2” album.

In Detail

Albums

Release Date: 5th August, 1966 (UK), 20th June, 1966 (US: ‘Yesterday and Today’)
Recorded: 27th and 29th April, 5th and 6th May, 1966
Studio: EMI Studios, London
Genre: Psychedelic folk
Track Duration: 3:02
Record Label: Parlophone (UK)
Songwriters: Lennon-McCartney
Producer: George Martin
Engineer: Geoff Emerick

Performers

John Lennon: lead and harmony vocals, also the acoustic guitar
Paul McCartney: bass, harmony vocals
George Harrison: acoustic guitar, backwards lead guitars, harmony vocals
Ringo Starr: drums

Track Sources

Revolver
Anthology 2

I’m Only Sleeping is a Beatles' song from their 1966 album, Revolver.
Revolver (1966)
I’m Only Sleeping is a Beatles' song which is also on their Anthology 2 album
Anthology 2 Album (1996)

I’m Only Sleeping

Primarily written by John Lennon, with credits going to the songwriting partnership of Lennon-McCartney, “I’m Only Sleeping” sits between “Eleanor Rigby” and “Love You To” on the 1966 Beatles’ album, “Revolver”. He first wrote the song in 1966 on the back of a letter, although this was only a draft copy of an idea for tweaking later.

The Beatles had been touring for years, but that would all end on 29th August, 1966, with their last concert at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, California. Obviously, their tours were tiresome and John Lennon would often spend his time reading, writing, watching television and sleeping. From time to time, Lennon would be under the influence of drugs too. Also, on many occasions, Paul McCartney would need to wake Lennon up.

To reinforce John Lennon’s sleeping pattern his journalist friend once wrote the following:

“He can sleep almost indefinitely, is probably the laziest person in England. ‘Physically lazy,’ he said. ‘I don’t mind writing or reading or watching or speaking, but sex is the only physical thing I can be bothered with any more’.”

Maureen Cleave
London Evening Standard, 4th March, 1966

So, perhaps John Lennon was writing the song after becoming self-conscious about his own sleeping habits at the time.

Recording Studio

The Beatles began recording “I’m Only Sleeping” on the 27th April, 1966, in Studio Three at the EMI Studios, London, during the 11.30pm-3.00am session. They recorded 11 takes and the last one was suitable to become the master take for the overdubs. On the 29th April, Lennon added his vocals.

“I’m Only Sleeping” become a first in the field of backmasking when someone loaded a tape the wrong way in a studio machine.

“It played backwards, and, ‘What the hell is going on?’ Those effects! Nobody knew how those sounded then. We said, ‘My God, that is fantastic! Can we do that for real?’… So that was what we did and that was where we discovered backwards guitar. It was a beautiful solo actually. It sounds like something you couldn’t play.”

Paul McCartney
Many Years From Now, Barry Miles

George Harrison recorded the guitar pieces on the 5th May and then the band overdubbed the backing vocals the next day to complete the song. This became the first time on a pop recording with backward guitars being a unique feature.

The Beatles Anthology 2 album from 1996 has both the rehearsal and take 1 from their first day’s recording. They are both interesting pieces and well worth a listen.

Author: Bobby

I have been a Beatles fan since the early 1960s so I speak from my heart and soul. It was a pleasure to accept the role of Admin on The Beatles Forum when we left our old site. If you feel that something needs correcting with the information I provide, please contact me.

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