Tuesday, November 10, 2009


"Birthday" is a song written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney and performed by The Beatles on their eponymous double album The Beatles. It is the opening track on the third side of the LP (or the second disc in CD versions of the record). This song is a prime example of the Beatles' return to more traditional rock and roll form, although their music had increased in complexity and it had developed more of its own characteristic style by this point.


In an interview in the October 2008 edition of Mojo, McCartney said of the song, "'Birthday' was 50-50 me and John." The song was largely written during a recording session at the EMI Abbey Road Studios on 18 September 1968 with McCartney coming up with the main riff. During the session, The Beatles and the recording crew made a short trip around the corner to McCartney's house to watch the 1956 rock & roll movie The Girl Can't Help It which was being shown for the first time on British television. After the movie they returned to record "Birthday."

"Birthday" begins with an intro drum fill, then moves directly into a blues progression in A (in the form of a guitar riff doubled by the bass) with McCartney singing at the top of his chest voice, "They say it's your birthday/ Well it's my birthday too, yeah!" with Lennon on a lower harmony. Afterwards, a drum break lasting eight measures brings the song into Lennon's section, which rests entirely on the dominant before returning to a third section, sung by McCartney and Lennon. It is among McCartney's most intense vocal performances given the range in which he sings during the blues run. This song is the only track on The Beatles in which Lennon and McCartney share lead vocal duties.


* John Lennon – vocal, backing vocal, lead guitar, handclaps
* Paul McCartney – vocal, piano, handclaps
* George Harrison – 6-string bass, handclaps
* Ringo Starr – drums, tambourine, handclaps
* Pattie Boyd – backing vocal, handclaps
* Yoko Ono – backing vocal, handclaps
* Mal Evans – handclaps

Other uses

* Underground Sunshine scored a Top 40 hit with this song in the US in 1969.
* Philadelphia Phillies games play this song while showing the attendees celebrating their birthdays on the Jumbotron as do the New York Islanders.
* Similarly, Detroit Lions games play the song while showing the attendees celebrating their birthdays on the scoreboard screen.
* A number of minor league baseball teams, including the Altoona Curve, also play the song while showing the names of attendees celebrating their birthdays on the scoreboard screen.
* Farmer Ted (Anthony Michael Hall) attempted to serenade Samantha Baker (Molly Ringwald) in the high school auto shop with the song when he learned it was her birthday in the movie Sixteen Candles.
* On an episode of Full House, the family goes into Jesse's (John Stamos) bedroom to wake him up for his birthday. The family sings "Birthday," while Joey (Dave Coulier) imitates the guitar riff.
* There are multiple instances in the "Hypno-Birthday to You" episode of Jimmy Neutron where you can hear "Birthday" in the background.
* Used in Moonlighting (TV series) , on the second season episode "In God We Strongly Suspect," Bruce Willis (David) sings with the whole office crew to Cybill Sheperd (Maddie) as a surprise on her birthday.
* In an episode of The Sopranos, Carmela mentions the song at the dinner table to try to make conversation with her son, but he is unimpressed, due to the fact that drum solo was too basic.
* The Pizzicato Five song "Tout Va Bien," on their Sweet Pizzicato Five album, quotes the opening drum riff.

Album: The Beatles
Released: 22 November 1968
Recorded: 18 September 1968
Genre: Hard rock, rock and roll
Length: 2:42
Label: Apple Records
Writer: Lennon/McCartney
Producer: George Martin



juan sebastian said...

I think it was a collaboration but not a 50-50. Though paul said it was, John´s and chris thomas comments indicates that it was mostly a McCartney's song.

lotb said...

True. Maybe McCartney was feeling more generous than in previous years (i.e. the book Many Years From Now).