Top 10 Mistakes That Found Their Way Into Beatles Songs

Beatles mistakes

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.

Jim Beviglia

Photo Credit: Ringo Starr, John Lennon & Paul McCartney (Photo by Max Scheler – K & K/Redferns/Getty Images)

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38 comments on “Top 10 Mistakes That Found Their Way Into Beatles Songs

  1. Earl Kliethermes

    It is almost certainly Lennon doing the cursing throughout Hey Jude as he tries to play the bass part.

  2. Earl, I thought so too, but most sources agree on McCartney, most likely for hitting a sour note on piano.

  3. Larry Lewis

    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.”

  4. Bob Matulis

    At 3 minutes and 18 seconds on I’ve got a feeling Paul says f bomb-yeah.

  5. Peter Denmark

    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….”

    • George Price

      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?

  6. 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.

    • Patric Morrison

      On one of the anthology recordings, John can be heard saying “Paul’s broken a glass”…

  7. Peter Heintz

    You can hear dogs barking in I Feel Fine (Beatles ‘65) at the very end of the song!

  8. 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.

    • Bruce Moses

      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.

  9. Win Bent

    Every Little Thing, 1:27 – is that a drum stumble, or dropped sticks, or what!? It’s bugged me for 50+ years.

    • Bruce Moses

      Rather than anything to do with the drums, I think it’s one of the acoustic guitar players doing a quick double-time strum.

  10. Paul Sineath

    I believe Paul’s voice only cracks on the stereo version of And I Love Her IIRC

  11. Dean Haas

    What about the false start on “I’ve just seen a face” on the mono version?

  12. 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?

    • GregHolloway

      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.

  13. 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

    • william elder

      On one channel the guitars drop down there. Not the bass

  14. User Account

    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.’
    Tsk Tsk.

  15. 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

  16. 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)

  17. Love Her Majesty. One of my Favorites!!

  18. Nigel Harris

    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.

  19. Nigel Harris

    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.

  20. 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.

  21. william elder

    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

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