Writers: Paul McCartney and John Lennon
Producer: George Martin
Recorded: May 26th, 1966, at EMI (aka Abbey Road) Studios in London
Released: August 1966
|Players:||Ringo Starr — vocals, drums
Paul McCartney — guitar, vocals
John Lennon — guitar, vocals, bubbles
George Harrison — tambourine, vocals, water bucket
Horns — session brass band
Chorus vocals — Mal Evans, Neil Aspinall, George Martin, Alf, Geoff Emerick, Patti Harrison, and others
|Album:||Revolver (Capitol, 1966)|
Released as a single in the U.S. in August 1966, “Yellow Submarine” reached Number Two on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. It hit Number One three years later, when the Yellow Submarineanimated film came out.
In the U.K. it was the B-side to “Eleanor Rigby.”
John Lennon gave most of the credit for “Yellow Submarine” to Paul McCartney — “'Yellow Submarine' is Paul's baby…Paul wrote the catchy chorus. I helped with the blunderbuss bit…Donovanhelped with the lyrics. I helped with the lyrics, too. We virtually made the track come alive in the studio, but based on Paul's inspiration, Paul's idea, Paul's title.”
Though some found “drug connotations” in the song, McCartney contended that “it really was a children's song…I wrote it in bed one night, as a kid's story. And then we thought it would be good forRingo (Starr) to do…I just loved the idea of kids singing it. With 'Yellow Submarine,' the whole idea was, 'If someday I came across some kids singing it, that would be it,' so it's got to be very easy. There isn't a single big word. Kids will understand it easier than adults.”
Starr, who sang lead on the song, agreed: “It's simply a children's song with no hidden meanings. Many people have interpreted it to be a war song, that eventually all the world would be living in yellow submarines. That's not the case.”
To record the song, the Beatles and producer George Martin employed a number of special effects, including Lennon blowing bubbles and buckets full of water that George Harrison swirled on the recording. Martin noted, “You can hear the noise of bubbles being blown into tanks, chains rattling and that kind of thing. We actually did that in the studio. John got one of those little hand mikes, which he put into his Vox amp and was able to talk through. So all of that 'Full steam ahead' you hear was done live while the main vocal was going on, and we all had a giggle.”
Beatles manager Brian Epstein was so taken by “Yellow Submarine” that he made a deal for a Yellow Submarine animated film — an idea that did not particularly please the Beatles, though they warmed to it after the film, which was released in 1969, became a success.
The Revolver album hit Number One in both the U.S. and the U.K. and has sold more than five million copies.
Revolver was the last Beatles album until Magical Mystery Tour to have different track listings between the two countries.
The Yellow Submarine album hit Number Two on the Billboard 200 and Number Three on the British chart. It's sold more than a million copies.