The Paul McCartney Beatles song John Lennon wished he sang
There was rarely any debate over who sang what song in The Beatles. Although they had four competent vocalists, the division of labour was clear: John Lennon and Paul McCartney were co-lead singers, while Harrison and Starr would usually get one song per album/stage performance. When it came down to who sang what, there was a simple metric that was employed: whoever wrote the song sang it.
In the early days of the band, this division of labour was a bit trickier to manage. Lennon and McCartney often wrote songs together during the first half of their recording career, but the initial germ of a song often belonged to one or the other. In the cases where credit was relatively equal, sometimes the two would simply sing the entire song together like they did on ‘I Want to Hold Your Hand’. Other times, each writer would sing the section they wrote, including on tracks like ‘A Hard Day’s Night’, ‘A Day in the Life’, and ‘I’ve Got a Feeling’.
In fact, one of the only songs that breaks this formula is ‘Every Little Thing’ from Beatles for Sale, which was written by McCartney but more prominently features Lennon on the lead vocal (McCartney doubled Lennon’s lead vocals throughout the song’s verses, but is much lower in the mix). The only other time a trade-off might have worked was during the sessions for Abbey Road when McCartney was struggling to get the proper vocal take of ‘Oh! Darling’ on tape.
“I mainly remember wanting to get the vocal right, wanting to get it good, and I ended up trying each morning as I came into the recording session,” McCartney told Barry Miles in the book Many Years From Now. “I tried it with a hand mike, and I tried it with a standing mike, I tried it every which way, and finally got the vocal I was reasonably happy with. It’s a bit of a belter, and if it comes off a little bit lukewarm, then you’ve missed the whole point. It was unusual for me, I would normally try all the goes at a vocal in one day.”
“Paul came in several days running to do the lead vocal on ‘Oh! Darling’,” engineer Alan Parsons told Mark Lewishon in the book The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions. “He’d come in, sing it and say, ‘No, that’s not it, I’ll try it again tomorrow.’ He only tried it once per day, I suppose he wanted to capture a certain rawness which could only be done once before the voice changed. I remember him saying, ‘Five years ago I could have done this in a flash,’ referring, I suppose, to the days of ‘Long Tall Sally’ and ‘Kansas City’.”
Even Lennon felt that the song was closer to his vocal style, and admitted to David Sheff in 1980 that he probably should have taken a crack at it. “‘Oh! Darling’ was a great one of Paul’s that he didn’t sing too well,” Lennon recalled. “I always thought that I could’ve done it better – it was more my style than his. He wrote it, so what the hell, he’s going to sing it. If he’d had any sense, he should have let me sing it. [Laughs.]”
source: Far Out Magazine
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