AUTHORSHIP Lennon (.7) and McCartney (.3)
Often Paul would be John's morning alarm call. Living at Wimpole Street with the Ashers, this inevitably meant he got up earlier than John and packed more into each day. John led a more relaxed suburban life but if he went to dinner in London or to a club, living so far from town meant that he returned home very late. Paul would arrive at midday or the early afternoon and wake him up, which was where John got the idea for "I'm Only Sleeping".
McCARTNEY: "It was a nice idea, there's nothing wrong with it. I'm not being lazy, I'm only sleeping, I'm yawning, I'm meditating, I'm having a lay-in - the luxury of all of that was what it was about."
The song was written and arranged in one writing session, co-written but from John's original idea. Paul McCartney: Many Years from Now
April 27, 1966, at Abbey Road, with the lead vocal overdubbed April 29, backward guitar May 5, and backing vocals May 6
For Paul, the most exciting thing that happened with "I'm Only Sleeping" was during the recording rather than in the writing. They were taping George's guitar solo and the tape operator put the tape on tails out.
McCARTNEY: "It played backwards, and, 'What the hell is going on?' Those effects! Nobody knew how those sounded then. We said, 'My God, that is fantastic! Can we do that for real?' So George Martin, give him his due, being amenable to ideas like that, being quite experimental for who he was, a grown-up, said, 'Yes. Sure, I think we can do that.' So that was what we did and that was where we discovered backwards guitar. It was a beautiful solo actually. It sounds like something you couldn't play." Paul McCartney: Many Years from Now
MARTIN: "In order to record the backward guitar on a track like 'I'm Only Sleeping,' you work out what your chord sequence is and write down the reverse order of the chords - as they are going to come up - so you can recognize them. You then learn to boogie around on that chord sequence, but you don't really know what it's going to sound like until it comes out again. It's hit or miss, no doubt about it, but you do it a few times, and when you like what you hear you keep it." Musician (July 1987)
McCARTNEY: bass, backing vocal
LENNON: acoustic guitar, lead vocal
HARRISON: lead guitar, backing vocal
COMMENTS BY OTHERS
PETE SHOTTON: " 'I'm Only Sleeping' brilliantly evokes the state of chemically induced lethargy into which John had . . . drifted." John Lennon: In My Life