By October 1968, The Beatles probably considered it a miracle that they had almost finished The White Album. As he began working on a double record in late May, he experienced just about every problem the band faced.
When they weren’t fighting over tedious retakes or working on their own, they were figuring out how to bring down the tracks of Dhol after Ringo left the band. But Ringo was not the only one with that idea.
Beatles Grammy-winning engineer Geoff Emerick also abandoned the band during these controversial seasons. And George Harrison thought of doing the same. (Eric Clapton’s help may have kept him in the band.)
When Paul McCartney led the band through one of the self-described “fruity” songs at the White Mac session, the mood sounded like, “Let’s do it.” And the lineup on “Honey Pie” reflected this.
This could be a change of scenes that were in Mood Four in early October. For the week in question, the band worked at Trident Studios instead of Abbey Road. “I like this kind of hot music!” Paul said, getting ready at the beginning of the session.
The song “Honey Pie,” will last for the next few days, with one Paul saying that he is “living in 1925.” (John Lennon may have called this Paul’s “Granny Music”) but before they did. The clarinet part was recorded, requiring them to descend from the original track.
Paul worked on the piano and Ringo was in his usual place behind the drum kit, so that the other instruments remained open. John did guitar duty leaving the bass part for George. And how the band recorded it.
For a guitar solo on a song by Paul, it was unusual for John to handle it. But how did George miss it? In fact, George praised the single John recorded during those days at Trident.
While John was not known for his scorched-earth guitar licking, he had his own moments. His guitar solo on “Get Back”, for example, has not lost any of its swaggers over the years. (John worked on that part while George was after his walk away from the band.)
Looking back at 1987, George stated that he loved playing John in these seasons. “John played a terrific single on Honey Pie,” he said. “Django sounded like Reinhardt or something. It was one of them where you just close your eyes and have to hit all the right notes … sounded like a little jazz solo.”
In order for Paul to drop it (instead of recording his solo), he must have agreed to work on John’s mini-solos adequately. And he definitely felt the song.
“My dad’s always played fruity old songs like that, you know. And I liked ’em,” Paul said around the time of the White Album release. “I would quite like to have been a 1920’s writer … I like that thing, you know. Up in top hat and tails and sort of coming on to ’em.”