Thursday, February 11, 2010

"Golden Slumbers"

"Golden Slumbers" is a song by The Beatles, part of the climactic medley on their 1969 album Abbey Road. The song begins the progression that leads to the end of the album and is followed by "Carry That Weight." The two songs were recorded together as a single piece, and both were written by Paul McCartney (credited to Lennon/McCartney).

Original ballad and poem

"Golden Slumbers" is based on a poem by Thomas Dekker and written in a lullaby style. McCartney saw the sheet music for Dekker's lullaby at his father's home in Liverpool, left on a piano by his stepsister Ruth McCartney. McCartney could not read music at the time and was unable to read the score, and so he created his own melody and arrangement.

The words originally come from a lullaby in "The Pleasant Comodie of Patient Grissill" written about 1603.


McCartney was the lead vocalist. He begins the song in a soft tone appropriate for a lullaby, with piano, bass guitar, and string section accompaniment. Beginning with the line "Once there was a way to get back homeward," the drums come in and McCartney switches to a stronger tone, both of which emphasize the switch to the refrain. McCartney said, "I remember trying to get a very strong vocal on it, because it was such a gentle theme, so I worked on the strength of the vocal on it, and ended up quite pleased with it."

The main recording session for "Golden Slumbers"/"Carry That Weight" was on 2 July 1969. John Lennon was not present. He was injured in a motor vehicle accident in Scotland on 1 July 1969, and was hospitalized there until 6 July.

Additional vocals were added in an overdub session on 30 July 1969, the same day the first trial edit of the side two medley was created. Lennon did participate in this session. On 15 August, orchestral overdubs were made to "Golden Slumbers" and five other songs on Abbey Road.


* Paul McCartney – vocals and piano
* George Harrison - bass
* Ringo Starr – drums


* In 1969 the George Benson version was released on the LP The Other Side of Abbey Road.

* In 1970 it was featured as the beginning of a medley on John Denver's album Whose Garden Was This?

* In 1971 it was recorded by Brazilian singer Elis Regina, in the LP Ela (She).

* In 1991 it was recorded as a duet between Jackson Browne and Jennifer Warnes for the Disney benefit album For Our Children: To Benefit the Pediatrics AIDS Foundation.

* In 1991 a dreamy instrumental version was used as background music for a dream sequence in The Simpsons episode "Lisa's Pony."

* In 1996 an album was released by the reggae cover band Dread Zeppelin featuring a cover.

* In 1998, it was covered by Phil Collins on the album In My Life, a tribute to George Martin.

* In 1998 it was covered by Andrés Calamaro on the album of rarities Las Otras Caras de Alta Suciedad.

* In 2002 a version by Ben Folds appeared on the I Am Sam soundtrack.

* In 2006 it was covered by k.d. lang in a mashup with "The End" for the movie soundtrack album Happy Feet: Music from the Motion Picture.

* In 2003 it was featured as a B-side on Alex Lloyd's single, "Coming Home."

* In 2006 it was also covered by German singer/songwriter Rolf Meurer.

* In 2009 it was live-covered by English piano rock band Keane.

* Les Fradkin has an instrumental version on his 2005 release, "While My Guitar Only Plays."

* It was covered by Claudine Longet.

* The title of the 1990 song "Golden Blunders" by The Posies was inspired by "Golden Slumbers" ("Golden Blunders" was covered by Ringo Starr in 1992).

In Popular Culture

* A few lines of the song are sung by a penguin at the start of the film "Happy Feet" (2006).

Album: Abbey Road
Released: 26 September 1969
Recorded: Abbey Road, 2 July-15 August 1969
Genre: Rock
Length: 1:31
Label: Apple Records
Writer: Lennon/McCartney
Producer: George Martin


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