Editor’s Note: This post, from back in 2018, is one of our all-time most popular. Since it’s timeless, it seemed a good time to take another look. We hope you enjoy it…
The Beatles are often considered the embodiment of perfection in terms of their musical output. For the most part, they never had a flop or suffered through a slump. The fact that they broke up while still in their prime, while causing heartbreak to their many fans, actually ensured that their recorded legacy would remain pristine. And yet throughout the years, some tiny errors worked their way into their songs. In most cases, the band knew about these little gaffes and allowed them to stay. These mistakes provide a fascinating glimpse at how the band perhaps took their own music a little less seriously than all of the people who loved it. Here are ten mistakes in Beatle songs that you might not have recognized.
1 .“Please Please Me”
On just their second single and very first Number One hit in Great Britain, The Beatles’ loose-limbed approach to recording was already in place. Though they did several takes of “Please Please Me,” which was famously quickened from its original, stately tempo at the urging of producer George Martin, the one that was used actually contains John Lennon messing up the lyrics in the final verse. You can hear the discrepancy when he and Paul McCartney are attempting to harmonize with different words.
2. “I’ll Get You”
The Beatles were always releasing singles right alongside their albums, putting out an incredible amount of product in a short span of time. In the case of this jaunty little track, it worked its way onto the B-side of the mega-smash hit “She Loves You” in late 1963. And, because of the tight schedule, a mistake in the lyrics to the bridge was allowed to stay. Again, Lennon is the culprit, but it doesn’t even stunt the momentum of the song, so fine are the Everly Brothers’ harmonies perpetuated by he and Paul.
3. “If I Fell”
By the time the band got around to their third album, 1964’s A Hard Day’s Night, they were writing ballads of startling maturity and complexity to go with the rave-ups. “If I Fell” is a particular beauty, with Lennon vacillating between the choice of two suitors. The melody is wistful and yearning in all the right places, but when it surges to a peak at the end of the middle eight, McCartney’s voice audibly cracks as he strains to hit the high harmony.
4. “I Feel Fine”
This is an example of a mistake that came up smelling like roses. Although the accounts differ, someone at some point during the recording of this late 1964 single leaned one of their guitars up against a live amplifier, creating some explosive feedback. Excited by this prospect, the band decided to include it in the opening of the song, with the squalling sound eventually morphing into George Harrison’s perfectly-picked lead guitar part for what would be a Number One smash.
Related: “Deconstructing The Beatles: The Birth of the Beatles”
5. “What Goes On”
This is the first song to ever include a writing credit for Ringo Starr, although by most accounts it was just as much a Lennon/McCartney number as anything else. “What Goes On” is a bit of an oddball country track in the midst of the contemplative songs on Rubber Soul. Perhaps the band sensed it was a throwaway, because they let Lennon run hog wild with weird rhythm guitar stylings. They are buried down in the mix, but if you focus on them, you’ll hear how disheveled they were.
6. “Hello, Goodbye”
This is a bit of a cheat since there is no known mistake to be found on the actual recording of this late 1967 Number One single. The problem came in the promotional video for the song, which was a relatively new innovation by The Beatles to atone for the fact that they were no longer touring. In the clip, McCartney can be seen obviously miming the lyrics (his mouth doesn’t synch up at one point in the “Bye-Bye-Bye” part). The clip would be kept off the air in Britain because the Musicians’ Union had a ban against such practices.
7. “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da”
It’s ironic that this song would be included here since McCartney allegedly aggravated the other group members with his insistence on endless takes of the White Album classic. But when singing the final verse, McCartney accidentally juxtaposed the occupations of Desmond and Molly Jones. When confronted with the mistake, he decided to just leave it in to give people something to think about. One could imagine that the other three Beatles were more than happy he didn’t insist on recording it again.
8. “Hey Jude”
It is the most hallowed of all Beatle ballads, Paul McCartney’s personal pick-me-up for a hurting Julian Lennon that became a universal expression of support in hard times. Yet Paul actually dropped an F-bomb in the middle of it. The reason is lost to the mists of time (some claim a bum piano note), but right about the time that McCartney is singing “Then you can start…” for the last time, you can hear him mumbling underneath something to the effect of ”f***ing Hell.” That will make you think next time you’re teary-eyed and singing along.
Related: “Taking A Sad Song And Making It Better”
9. “Come Together”
This one isn’t so much a mistake as it is a case of something hidden by a quirk of recording. “Come Together” is notable as the opening track from The Beatles’ final studio album, 1969’s Abbey Road. In this bluesy workout, Lennon can be heard at the start of each section singing a “sh” syllable, and then his voice intertwines with the combination of McCartney’s bass and Starr’s maracas. He was actually singing “Shoot me” in an insistent whisper, but it gets lost in the recording shuffle.
10. “Her Majesty”
Ever wonder why the quick little final track on Abbey Road is introduced by a jarring guitar sound and comes so long after the previous track? Well, McCartney had intended the song to be a part of the elongated Side 2 medley, but then decided against it. Engineer John Kurlander was told by Macca to toss the song, but he didn’t want to throw away anything valuable, so he instead tacked it on to the end of a rough mix several seconds after the final notes of “The End.” When discovering it, the band liked how it deflated some of the sonority of the closing tracks and left it there, complete with the jarring closing chord of “Mean Mr. Mustard” introducing it.
Photo Credit: Ringo Starr, John Lennon & Paul McCartney (Photo by Max Scheler – K & K/Redferns/Getty Images)
It is almost certainly Lennon doing the cursing throughout Hey Jude as he tries to play the bass part.
McCartney played the bass in hey Jude. Lennon played it in let it be
You’re absolutely right !!!! This memory scramble ruins everything. I apologize.
Jefferson City Earl Kliethermes?
Earl, I thought so too, but most sources agree on McCartney, most likely for hitting a sour note on piano.
In any case, the F-bomb comment comes at the final “begin”…..not “start.” This occurs at about the 2:59 mark, on the YouTube video of the song as put up by a “Sky Jr.”
At 3 minutes and 18 seconds on I’ve got a feeling Paul says f bomb-yeah.
I always thought the bit you say is Paul cursing was someone saying “cut it out” after someone else sung an extra note (just after the word ‘skin’). To my ears it went “let her under your skin” (ahhh) (cut it out), then you begin….”
To me, it sounded like “Paul, I need your help”.
No, it is JOHN saying BLOODY Hell when his headphones had feedbacks them. There is an isolated vocal version out there that puts this myth to rest once and for all. It never ever sounded like Paul. How could it be Paul saying it while he is clearly singing?
Feedback IN them….
You have heard of multi-tracks and dubbing I take it?
I read many years ago that The Beatles often had glasses of vodka and tonic whilst recording and Paul knocked a glass over, smashing it. This is what made John drop the F-bomb. I think your can hear the glass smash if you listen on headphones.
On one of the anthology recordings, John can be heard saying “Paul’s broken a glass”…
You can hear dogs barking in I Feel Fine (Beatles ‘65) at the very end of the song!
Missed the most obvious one. George’s guitar solo on All You Need Is Love fell apart halfway through, but it was on live television so they couldn’t fix it.
It probably felt like a lot of pressure for him under the circumstances — he hadn’t been carrying a lot of the lead guitar duties during that period.
Every Little Thing, 1:27 – is that a drum stumble, or dropped sticks, or what!? It’s bugged me for 50+ years.
Rather than anything to do with the drums, I think it’s one of the acoustic guitar players doing a quick double-time strum.
I believe Paul’s voice only cracks on the stereo version of And I Love Her IIRC
It cracked on If I Fell, but they fixed it when they released the Hard Day’s Night album.
What about the false start on “I’ve just seen a face” on the mono version?
Yes I picked up on that.
I’ve always wondered what’s up with why Paul hits a bum chord on piano in “Let it Be” just after he sings, “I wake up to the sound of music”, and right when he sings the word “Mother”, he hits a minor chord that sounds a bit dissonant. Does anyone have any info on that one?
I have always heard that one bum piano chord to which you refer, and I’ve always been amazed that nobody ever pointed it out.
Was there a dropped bass note in Day Tripper right after the bridge that has since been corrected or mixed down in subsequent re-issues? Anyone?
I’ve read that the song was constructed from 2 different takes and in the physical editing of the tape that note was lost
On one channel the guitars drop down there. Not the bass
Plus a grammatical error in the report of the errors herewith.
‘…so fine are the Everly Brothers’ harmonies perpetuated by he and Paul.’ Ah-hem… ‘…harmonies perpetuated by HIM and Paul.’
Actually, it was John who started the riff in I Feel Fine after the feedback…you can hear the sound of the guitar riff change as the rest of the band comes in and George takes over…same thing happens in the middle….video of live performances confirm that
It sounds like John’s distinctive voice with that “F—king hell” in ‘Hey Jude’, I heard many years ago that he uttered it due a guitar string breaking on him. Has anyone else heard that version?
No, John started to pull his headphones off, and there was feedback, then he said BLOODY Hell…listen to the isolated vocal version online. ( you don’t hear the feedback, but clearly, there is no F bomb)
Love Her Majesty. One of my Favorites!!
Apparently “Paul is dead ” is heard if the LP of sgt pepper’s is played backwards after the Last track.
No, you are thinking of playing Revolution 9 backwards, the number 9, number 9, number 9, sounds like turn me on dead man, when backwards, to me, it sounds like George Martin saying number 9….
No, that’s from a test record taken from the Abbey Road vaults. Not George Martin.
“Paul is dead. Miss him. Miss him Miss him.” is heard on The White Album if you play John’s gibberish that comes right before “Blackbird.”
No, the gibberish mistakenly thought to be “Paul is dead” etc. comes at the end of “I’m So Tired.”
I knew it was somewhere on that album! 😂
We’ll, I suppose it does come “right before ‘Blackbird,’” but in fact the gibberish is part of the “”I’m So Tired” track and is heard as the final chord of that song is ringing out.
Glad you clarified that! 😂 And the only part that is not gibberish is at the very end, John says “Julian?” to his son.
I distinctly Remember hearing a faulty chord right at the end of “Tell me why” on the “Hard day’s Night” album I had several years ago, but not on others I’ve played since or on the remastered version.
Someone else corrected the notion of the feedback on “I Feel Fine” going into *George’s lead guitar part.” In fact, it was John playing the riff.
In addition, the writer speaks of John’s vocal flub on the last verse of the *single* version of “Please Please Me.” Actually, the mistake is heard only on the stereo mix of the song; it was fixed via creative editing on the single. This was also done for Paul’s voice crack at the end of the *second* bridge of “If I Fell.” Not present in the mono mix.
The most famous flub is John’s mic dropping out at the end of Yer Blues. He duplicates it in Rock and Roll Circus with Dirty Mac
When Paul’s voice cracked on the word “vain” in “If I Fell” he was singing the melody, not the harmony as stated in the article. The song starts off with John singing melody, then he switches to harmony and Paul comes in and sings the rest of the song’s melody. And Mike is right, they fixed the crack in the mono mix.
Did anyone know that John sang out of tune, or is this old news now? Quite often as I have had it explained to me, (I don’t hear it personally) by musicians with a good ear for pitch that he is out of tune, as he rises to the note, but ending the note in tune. Sorry to burst anybody’s bubble, as I am a huge fan and think that his imperfections made his music perfect. He was also known to flatten the D string, as John would say to give it that Beatles sound, and so Aunt Mimi could discern his guitar from the rest. Musicians he played with after the Beatles thought it was absurd when he did it.
I think it’s quite a tribute to their singing that they recorded at a time when there was no auto tune. Even more amazing is how they sang in tune live in concert without vocal monitors.
I always thought George flipped the articles in the bridge of Do You Want to Know a Secret?
Seems to me “I’ve known A secret for THE week or two” should have been “I’ve know THE secret for A week or two”
KJ, I always thought George sang “I’ve known a secret for a week or two” If you Google the lyrics some say that, others say “the secret for a week or two.”
KJ is correct; George clearly sings “I’ve known a secret for the week or two.” (One thing you should NEVER do is imagine that any online lyrics site is likely to have things right!)
Interestingly, when I asked my smart speaker to play the song just now, I got an alternate take, with a different George vocal and different backing vocals (i.e., three-part instead of two, and they began immediately instead of waiting till the second verse).
Nevertheless, George sings the bridge in the same way on this take — a/the rather than the/a. This tells me that it was intended all along. I think this may be a Briticism that sounds odd to American ears. Kind of like them saying “He was taken to hospital after the accident” or “I got on with him quite well.”
A good example of this comes in “Ask Me Why.” Few lyric sites get the second verse of that one right. It’s actually “Now you’re mine, my happiness near makes me cry.” Americans would say “Now that you’re mine, my happiness nearly makes me cry.”
Mike, never said KJ was wrong – just told him what I heard. And in Ask Me Why, the line is “my happiness STILL makes me cry” which is what I hear (and, yes, I’m American) All the Google searches say the word is “still.” P.S. I play guitar and the lyric sheet in my Beatles songbook also says “still.” 😉
And I never said you said that “KJ was wrong;” I merely said that he was correct.
As for “Ask Me Why,” here’s an idea: instead of relying on books or online lyric sites, how about if you actually LISTEN to the song? If you do, you’l note that there is no “s” sound at the beginning of the word that follows “happiness.” Nor is there any short “i” sound in the middle or “l” sound at the end of it.
Please get back to us once you’ve done this.
A couple of other things:
1. It is hopelessly naive to think that every online lyric site has someone who personally listens to every single song on their site before posting its lyrics. No…they simple copy the lyrics from another site. This can easily be seen by the many other instances of obvious mistakes that are replicated across multiple sites.
2. For what it’s worth, in my very perfunctory search of lyrics sites, I found several who render “Ask Me Why”’s second verse as “My happiness, dear, makes me cry.” Well, at least they’re getting closer from a sound standpoint! However, it’s a little silly to imagine John Lennon using such a corny and outdated form of address to his girl. The word is “near.”
3. I play guitar and sing, too…and have been doing it for longer than you have! 🙂
Mike, I first learned guitar in 1964 at age 9. Learned to read music and play notes. Later learned chords. Have you been playing since 1964 or earlier? I have another question for you. On the back of the poster that came with the White Album there are the lyrics to all the songs. What do you really think Paul is saying after “Now somewhere in the Black…”
NJ, you’ve got me beat by one year! I just couldn’t imagine that there was someone more ancient than me still writing about this stuff. Congratulations!
As for “Rocky Raccoon,” I’ll have to get back to you on that. Will give a listen and compare with the official lyrics on the poster and let you know what I think.
ANCIENT?! Thanks a lot! 😂 I still feel about 25 in my head, but my body is definitely pushing 68!
Please get back to me about “Rocky Raccoon.” There was a big argument between 2 opinions on Paul’s official forum:(maccaboard.paulmccartney.com)
Please scroll down to see my other reply to you!
Re the opening line of “Rocky Raccoon,” I see the dispute is between “black mining hills” and “black mountain hills.”
FWIW, I hear “black mining hills.” Also FWIW, one of those websites devoted to misheard lyrics says “black mountain hills” is wrong and “black mining hills” is correct.
Obviously, Paul is singing with an exaggerated drawl that favors “-ing” sounds devolving to “-in” instead. But even with that drawl, you would think that the “t” in “mountain” would be more pronounced if that’s what Paul sang.
Surprisingly, there are very few hits on a Google Search for “Black Mountain” and either “North Dakota,” “South Dakota” or just “Dakota.” There is a Black Mountain Range in North Carolina, but there seems to be very little reference to such a thing in the Dakotas.
Of course, the Black Hills are well-known, and it seems not impossible that even a Brit would know that mining is prominent in this area.
Anyway, in my view, the aural as well as the logical evidence points to “black mining hills.” And really, how much sense does “black mountain hills” make?
That said, the “black mountain hills” interpretation would seem to be, at least in my brief search, the more popular one.
Mike, I agree with everything you wrote! Because the stupid poster lyrics says “mountain” that’s what I always assumed it was! Paul himself oversaw the creation of that poster, btw. So about 8 years ago the subject comes up on the Maccaboard. I finally listen carefully with earbuds to the song and realize it is “MINING!” (and of course my also stupid White Album guitar songbook says “mountain!”) Of course, like I said, prior to this I always only heard “mountain!” There used to be a thing on paulmccartney.com where you could ask him questions and each month they’d pick one – that was my question: “Is it mountain or mining?” No answer. He’s the only one who knows for sure, but he’d have to listen to it again as he “misremembers” lots of things! 😂
Mike, there was no Reply button under your post, so I hope you see this. I have been a Beatles fan since age 8 in late Dec. 1963 when I first heard “I Want To Hold Your Hand” on the radio. I’ve heard “Ask Me Why” at least a thousand times since 1964. Like I said, because of my guitar book, I always thought the word was still. I just listened to my vinyl LP Please Please Me, and you are right, it doesn’t sound like still, it sounds like near (which would be a more “British” word to use) I am friends with several Beatles tribute bands and I’m going to ask them what they’ve been singing all these years!
P.S. KJ said what he thought George was singing. Then he said what he thought George SHOULD be singing. Is that what you were were agreeing with? ✌️❤️
NJ, I want to thank you for changing your view and admitting that you had it wrong. That’s not something you see too often in online conversations. Takes a big person to do that.
i know from my own experience that it’s tough when you’ve held a mistaken notion for a long time but have never really challenged it. I remember years ago insisting in an online exchange that John sang the low harmony on “Things We Said Today.” Someone said that, no, it was Paul singing both parts. I scoffed at first…until I bothered to actually listen. And, well, you know the rest! I had to eat some serious crow, but it was the right thing to do.
In the case of George’s vocal, I’m not sure that “should” comes into play. We may have expectations about certain phrases, but as we’ve seen, these can vary across the pond. I guess I was agreeing about what George actually sings. To me, there’s no question about that.
Mike, sorry, still confused. What does George actually sing in Do You Want To Know A Secret?
He sings “I’ve known a secret for the week or two.”
Mike, back to Ask Me Why, I got replies from 2 of the guys who play John in tribute bands. One think John sings “ma-makes me cry” and the other John said he thought it was still, but he needs to listen to it again. The 1st guy sent me this:
I will grant that if you’re expecting or are told beforehand that you’ll hear something, you’re more likely to hear it whether it’s there or not.
The number-one example of this is the alleged “turn me on dead man” bit in “Revolution 9.” I have a standing $100 bet no one has ever collected on: play this passage to someone who has never heard of the Paul Is Dead business and has no idea *in advance* of what one is “supposed” to hear.
There is not a soul on earth among them who would say, “Hey, it sounds like he’s saying ‘Turn me on dead man.’” No, they would say “That’s a bunch of gibberish.”
That said, the isolated vocals in “Ask Me Why” sound to me to be rather clear: John is singing “my happiness near makes me cry.”
I also believe that this is the most logical choice for what he could be singing…surely more likely than “dear,” or most especially your friend’s stuttering hypothesis. John would not have written a lyric that lame, and if it were a mistake, George Martin wouldn’t have let it pass.
Mike, all 4 guys have answered me, One even called me over FB! (I’ve known him 23 years) He didn’t think it was still or near and came up with other words that made no sense in the sentence. Like the word “who” is what he said he heard. The other guy heard “it.” Did you listen to the YouTube video? I hate to say, but I don’t hear “near” now. (but I’m not discounting that it *could* be near) I hear either “ma-makes” or possibly “it.” John (I believe) flubbed the word, which makes it so difficult to figure out. ☹️