“Hello, Goodbye” is a Beatles’ song which was also a single release for them in 1967. Indeed, the song reached the number one spot worldwide. However it also appears on a few Beatles’ albums too.
Format: 7-inch single (A-side) (B-side being “I Am the Walrus“)
Recorded: 2nd, 19th, 20th, 25th October & 2nd November, 1967
Studio: EMI Studios, London
Track Duration: 3:27
Record Label: Parlophone (UK), Capitol (US)
Producer: George Martin
Engineers: Ken Scott, Geoff Emerick
Paul McCartney: double-tracked lead vocal, backing vocal, piano, bass, bongos, conga
John Lennon: backing vocal, lead guitar, Hammond organ
George Harrison: backing vocal, lead guitar
Ringo Starr: drums, maracas, tambourine, backing vocal (over coda)
Kenneth Essex, Leo Birnbaum: viola
Written primarily by Paul McCartney but credits go to Lennon-McCartney, this single was the first release after the death of manager, Brian Epstein. However, it was Epstein’s assistant, Alistair Taylor, who appears to spark an idea in McCartney’s mind. This follows the theme of simplicity and randomness which was a phase the band would go through at the time.
One day, during August, 1967, Taylor paid a visit to McCartney at his home Cavendish Avenue, St John’s Wood, London. It was then that the subject of songwriting cropped up. While McCartney claimed it was easy to compose a song, Taylor said, “Oh, come on, Paul, don’t be silly, if that were the case, everybody would be writing”.
“Paul [then] marched me into the dining room, where he had a marvellous old hand-carved harmonium. ‘Come and sit at the other end of the harmonium. You hit any note you like on the keyboard. Just hit it and I’ll do the same. Now whenever I shout out a word, you shout the opposite and I’ll make up a tune. You watch, it’ll make music’…
‘Black,’ he started. ‘White,’ I replied. ‘Yes.’ ‘No.’ ‘Good.’ ‘Bad.’ Hello.’ ‘Goodbye.’
I wonder whether Paul really made up that song as he went along or whether it was running through his head already.”
Their ad-libbed ditty continued for a while as they had fun and they even used the odd swear word. However, their exercise in word association never resulted in the song itself. Be that as it may, Paul McCartney now had something to go on.
The B-side to the “Hello, Goodbye” single is “I Am the Walrus”, a John Lennon composition. Lennon wasn’t happy about his song being on the flip side because he thought his song was the better of the two.
“‘Hello, Goodbye’ beat out ‘I Am the Walrus’ … Can you believe that?”
George Martin and Paul McCartney insisted that “Hello, Goodbye” would be more of a commercial success and they were correct. Furthermore, the BBC banned “I Am the Walrus” so there would have been less exposure to the single. The Beeb banned it because of the phrases, “pornographic priestess” and “naughty girl you let your knickers down.”
In hindsight, it’s clear to see that this was a time when The Beatles, especially Lennon and McCartney, were not seeing eye to eye. Obviously, their next album after “Magical Mystery Tour” was “The Beatles” aka “The White Album”. This would see the band members drift further apart.
Although John Lennon’s song didn’t get A-side status for this single, he did write “All You Need Is Love” which was The Beatles contribution to the “Our World” TV show. Broadcast on the 25th June, 1967, this was the world’s first live international television show, so that was some consolation.
The Beatles began recording “Hello, Goodbye” on the 2nd October, 1967, in Studio Two of the EMI Studios, London, during the 10.00pm-2.30am session. They recorded 14 takes and the last one proved to be suitable as the basic rhythm track with piano, organ and percussion instruments. Returning to it again on the 19th, they added guitar pieces and vocals as the total number of takes increased.
Further overdubs and tweaks occurred on the 25th October and the 2nd November making the song complete.
The single made it to number one in the UK, the US, Australia, Canada and New Zealand as well as some European countries. In the UK, the single stayed top for 7 weeks while in America it topped the charts for 3 weeks. It was a worldwide commercial success despite John Lennon’ “A-side, B-side” protest.
Although the single was a success story in itself, in the US, both sides were on the 1967 album “Magical Mystery Tour“. However, in the UK, that release was in the form of a double EP. The B-side, “I Am The Walrus”, appeared on those while “Hello, Goodbye” didn’t.
In 1987, when CD releases of The Beatles’ back catalogue appeared, the American version of the album “Magical Mystery Tour” became standard across the world.
Take 16 is included on their 1996 album, “Anthology 2”, while the song qualifies for their 2000 album, “1” that includes the band’s number one songs.
The band made 3 promotional videos for “Hello, Goodbye” on the 10th November, 1967, at the Saville Theatre in London.
The first of these feature the band wearing colourful Sgt. Pepper uniforms, although around half-way through, there is a quick glimpse of them waving to the cameras wearing clothes from the period around 1963. During the coda, female hula dancers join the band for the “Maori finale”. John Lennon is not wearing his trademark “granny glasses” in this psychedelic music video.
The second music video sees the band in more conventional attire with a rural backdrop. The third video combines outtakes from the previous two videos. All videos were for different promotions, but there were hurdles to jump because of the Musicians Union’s ban on miming on television.