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“GOOD MORNING GOOD MORNING”
(John Lennon – Paul McCartney)
The hectic pace of 1964 and 1965 left The Beatles desiring and acquiring a somewhat more relaxed schedule for 1966. Without a movie to film that year, and only one album to record (instead of the customary two), they were allowed to enjoy a lengthy period or two to take in the emerging and evolving London scene and look into Eastern concepts and music amidst their less grueling tours. However, because of the backlash that resulted from John’s misunderstood “better than Jesus” quote, as well as the Philippines fiasco during their brief world tour, they took it upon themselves to insist on never touring again, leaving them even more free time for 1967. Finally a time to just live life!
“I didn’t know what to do,” John remembered in 1980. “What do you do when you don’t tour? There’s no life…What the hell do you do all day?...I was thinking, ‘Well, this is like the end, really. If there’s no more touring, that means there’s going to be a blank space in the future.’” This ‘blank space’ may have been what they all wanted, but once they got it, John entered into a period of non-motivation that affected everything – even his songwriting.
And since his songwriting had become more introspective by that time, it was quite natural to write about his current feelings. Therefore, a song which begins the first verse with the words “nothing to do,” along with the sentiment of mundane observances and activities resulting from boredom, could easily be expected from the pen of Lennon. But, with a very eccentrically busy arrangement, we see that John was brimming with ideas that transformed the lyrics into a breath-taking production that is appropriate for its time. It may not be the most loved “Sgt. Pepper” track, but examining it allows us to delve into the creative mind of a songwriting genius who, while admittedly not at the top of his game, was able to “take a sad song and make it better” in a rather unusual way.
John reading newspaper in his Kenwood home den, circa 1967
Concerning this post-touring period of late 1966 and early 1967, Cynthia Lennon describes her husband’s daily home activities: “When he was at home, he’d spend a lot of time lying in bed with a notepad. When he got up, he’d sit at the piano or he’d go from one room to the other listening to music, gawping at television and reading newspapers. He was basically dropping out from everything that was happening. He was thinking about things”
“I often sit at the piano, working at songs, with the telly on low in the background,” John related during this time. “If I’m a bit low and not getting much done, then the words on the telly come through. That’s when I heard ‘Good morning, good morning.’ It was a corn flakes advertisement. I was never proud of it. I just knocked it off to do a song.”
The actual jingle from the 60’s Kellogg’s commercial went: “Good morning, good morning. The best to you each morning. Sunshine breakfast, Kellogg’s Corn Flakes, Crisp and full of fun.”
"John was feeling trapped in suburbia and was going through some problems with Cynthia,” Paul relates in his book “Many Years From Now.” “It was about his boring life at the time. There’s a reference in the lyrics to ‘nothing to do’ and ‘meet the wife’; there was an afternoon TV soap called ‘Meet The Wife’ that John watched, he was that bored, but I think he was also starting to get alarm bells and so ‘Good morning, good morning.’”
Concerning the British television show “Meet The Wife,” author Keith Badman, in his book “The Beatles Off The Record,” gives this interesting detail: “John had also been watching television on the evening of Monday, 12 December 1966, when he watched an episode of ‘Meet The Wife.’ This was a long-running BBC1 comedy series…now in its fifth and final series…The show John watched, ‘This Christmas, Shop Early,’ was transmitted on BBC1 between 7:30 and 7:59 pm and concerned the frantic activities of traditional last minute Christmas shopping. This manifested itself in the lines, ‘People running round its five o’clock, everywhere in town is getting dark, everyone you see if full of life, it’s time for tea and “Meet The Wife.”’
Presumed evidence such as the above puts the possible date of songwriting back to December of 1966, the writing being done at John and Cynthia’s Kenwood home. As for any input from Paul, he states, “This is largely John’s song.” In his 1980 Playboy interview, John insists: “’Good Morning is mine,” adding, “It’s a throwaway, a piece of garbage, I always thought.” Most Beatles fans think differently, however.
Sometime presumably in January of 1967, John recorded a home demo of “Good Morning Good Morning” in his home studio consisting of piano and vocals. The beats per measure were not parsed out like the finished version was, nor were the chord changes exactly the same. The words were worked out quite meticulously as in the finished product, however, and the switch in rhythm for the bridge (“everybody knows there’s nothing doing…”) is already in place.
John brought the song into the studio for the first time on February 8th, 1967, this being the second Lennon contribution to the “Sgt. Pepper” album after “A Day In The Life.” The group entered EMI Studio Two at 7 pm (or thereabouts) to concentrate solely on recording the rhythm track of “Good Morning,” the session described by engineer Geoff Emerick in his book “Here, There And Everywhere” as “a fairly straightforward rocker…that could have fit in with any Beatles album released to date.”
Much instruction from John must have been needed, so a good amount of time was undoubtedly spent working out the time signature changes and when exactly Ringo’s cymbal crashes, drum fills and rhythm changes were required, which he performed perfectly on the finished product as recorded on this day. Eight 'takes' of the rhythm track were recorded today, only four of them making it through the entire song. Only two tracks of the four-track tape were used to record this rhythm track, track one featuring drums and tambourine while track two contained John's electric guitar. Interestingly, as specified in Kevin Howlett's liner notes from the 50th Anniversary release of the "Sgt. Pepper" album, the drums were played simultaneously by Ringo and Paul. Photographic evidence shows Paul standing while beating on Ringo's floor tom, this being heard sporadically during the song, while Ringo sits behind his drum kit as usual. By process of elimination, it must be George on tambourine, this being his only contribution to the song. No vocals were recorded as of yet, these being overdubed at a later date, however off microphone voices can be detected on the takes recorded on this day.
'Take one,' which is included on the "Super Deluxe Edition" box set of "Sgt. Pepper," begins with Geoff Emerick announcing, "Take, ah, one. This is 'Good Morning Good Morning,' I believe - I'm not sure about that." John then states what sounds like, "In richness and in health, in sickness and in breath" just before this first 'take' begins. The song breaks down just as what would have been the second verse moves into a changed time signature, the drummers not getting the change correctly yet.
One visitor present on this day was Micky Donelz of The Monkess who were all visiting London at the time. In a 2016 interview with author Mark Lewisohn, Micky remembers: "I thought it was going to be some kind of crazy Beatlemania, fun-fest, freak-out, love-in, be-in, psycho-jello, and I got totally dressed-up for it. I mean, I had tie-dye underwear and paisley bell-bottoms and my hair was up in curlers and I think I had the Lennon glasses and I'm six-sheets-to-the-wind again of course...and I walk in and it looks like my high school gymnasium! There was florescent lighting, nobody there but the four guys sitting in little folding chairs and Ringo behind the kit, and just jeans and t-shirts just playing. And I'm, like, 'Where are the girls?' I must have looked like such an idiot. I looked like a cross between Ronald McDonald and Charley Manson."
Micky continues: "And I'll never forget it. John Lennon looks up at me and says, 'Hey Monkee Man!...You want to hear what we're working on?'...And he points up to George Martin and I remember this so clearly...He's wearing a three-piece suit...and he pushes a button on a four-track tape recorder and I hear the tracks to 'Good Morning Good Morning.'...And then we sit around and then I remember some guy with a white coat and tie came in with tea...'Tea time, eh!' And we sat around a little table and had really God-awful tea. And then everybody sat around and then we were chatting - 'What's it like, The Monkees?,' me again trying to be so cool. And then I think it was John that went, 'Right lads, down in the mines.' And they went back to work." .
'Take eight' was one of the complete recordings of the rhythm track, this beginning with Paul counting the song off. With some disjointed but impressive drum fills from Ringo, as well as both John and Paul uttering "good morning" after Ringo's hearty ending cymbal crash, this eighth 'take' becomes the keeper which will have overdubs added at a later date. The session ends at 2:15 am the next morning, allowing the group to all file home for some needed rest to be ready to start recording another new song, “Fixing A Hole,” the next day.
Eight days later on February 16th, 1967, The Beatles were back in EMI Studios to continue work on “Good Morning Good Morning.” They convened in EMI Studio Three this time around, documents having them arriving at 7 pm to perform overdubs. Paul recorded his bass guitar onto track three while John recorded his lead vocal onto 'track four' afterward. This complete recording, as it stood at this point, can be heard on the 1996 released "Anthology 2" album, the above mentioned "Super Deluxe Edition" box set, and the "2 CD Anniversary Edition" of the "Sgt. Pepper" album.
A rough mono mix of the song was made by producer George Martin, Geoff Emerick and 2nd engineer Richard Lush with ADT (“artificial double tracking”) applied to John’s vocal, undoubtedly for John to take home to listen to what they had so far. With the four tracks of the tape filled, they then commenced to do two attempts of a reduction mix to leave space for more overdubs, the mixes numbered 9 and 10, the last being deemed “best.” Much deliberation on John’s part was needed to center his mind on just what the future overdubs would consist of. Geoff Emerick states that the song “sat on the shelf for the next three weeks while an indecisive Lennon made up his mind what kind of instrumentation he wanted added.”
Only four days later, however, another mono mix of the song was deemed necessary to review the progress so far. This was done on February 20th, 1967 in the control room of EMI Studio Three by the same team of Martin, Emerick and Lush. Perhaps John took the first demo home and Paul wanted one too…or maybe they just forgot they already made one four days earlier. In any event, this was for demo purposes only since they were far from finished with the song. Both this and the previous mono mix were labeled as “remix 1,” which is not to be confused with the mono “remix 1” that was created when the song was complete. The production staff had a lot on their plate at that time, being that they were creating a masterpiece album. I guess we can forgive them for labeling the mixes incorrectly.
March 13th, 1967, or twenty-five days after the last recording session for the song, the group reconvened in EMI Studio Two to add an extensive overdub to “Good Morning Good Morning.” "For nearly a month, John had been ruminating about what kind of instrumentation he wanted,” relates Geoff Emerick. “He finally decided to add brass, but he was adamant that it mustn’t sound ‘ordinary,’ and he insisted that George Martin hire a horn section comprised of old Liverpool mates instead of the top-flight session musicians we had been using. The group, who called themselves Sounds Incorporated, were nice enough blokes – actually, they were a lot of fun, which explained why Lennon liked them so much.” Paul explains: “When we came to record it we used ‘Sounds Incorporated’ to do a big sax thing; they were friends of our who had been on tour with us.” Previous to this, George Martin had worked up a score for the horns to play “translated from John’s guidance on guitar,” according to Bruce Spizer’s book “The Beatles’ Story On Capitol Records – Part Two.”
“Sounds Incorporated,” which was shortened to “Sounds Inc.” by the time of this session, had quite a long history with The Beatles. This instrumental group was formed in Dartford, Kent in 1961 and was recruited to be Gene Vincent’s backing band in April of that year, holding that gig for over two years. In this capacity, they first met The Beatles while playing The Star Club in Hamburg in April of 1962, Brian Epstein eventually becoming their manager in 1963. This led to the group becoming one of The Beatles opening acts of their 1965 American tour. This history, and their getting along well with John, led the brass members of “Sounds Inc.,” some from the original lineup, to get the session booking for “Good Morning Good Morning.”
Six brass players were involved in this session, three saxophonists, two trombonists and one French horn player. Two of the sax players were holdovers from the original group and therefore were known by John, namely Barrie Cameron and Alan Holmes. The third sax man on the session was David Glyde. As for the trombone players, one was John Lee, but there is some mystery to the identity of the second player. Some sources identify this musician as Griff West, while Mark Lewisohn’s book “The Beatles Recording Sessions” identifies his name as A.N. Other but, since this doesn't match any other source, it can easily be assumed to be a mistaken reference to “another” trombonist. As for the French horn player, the same book identifies him as “Tom someone – no one can recall his surname!”
The session on this day was said to begin at 7 pm. “We were there for about six hours,” states sax player Alan Holmes. “The first three hours we had refreshments and The Beatles played us the completed songs for the new L.P.” Geoff Emerick elaborates: “First it was time for a little party. The Beatles had been cloistered in the studio for so long, they were clearly suffering from cabin fever. In addition, few people outside of our small inner circle had heard any of the ‘Pepper’ tracks, so as everyone sat downstairs catching up with one another and reminiscing about old times, we were asked to play mixes of the completed tracks through the studio speakers.”
“This went on for a couple of hours, with George Martin growing increasing annoyed. He felt we were in the studio to work, and he was cognizant of the money EMI was spending on studio time; after all, he had to work to a budget. He tolerated it for as long as he could before wandering down into the studio and saying, diplomatically, ‘We should be moving along now, don’t you think?’ What else could the man say? He never wanted to offend anyone, but, as producer, he was answerable to EMI, so he was caught in the middle. The Beatles, on the other hand, couldn’t have cared less about the amount of time being spent on the record.”
“While George was busy being aggravated, I was studying the expressions of the Sounds Incorporated guys, trying to measure their reactions to the tracks we were playing for them. They were mesmerized! We knew that what we had been doing was exceptional, but it was gratifying to see that kind of response from people fresh to the project. From that point on, every time anyone came to visit The Beatles on a session, Richard (Lush) and I hoped that we would be asked to play back something that was completed, or in progress, not just because we loved hearing the tracks, but because we enjoyed seeing the stunned looks on their faces.”
Once recording finally got under way, John exerted his authority in a very insistent way. Second engineer Richard Lush recalls: “They spent a long time doing the overdub, about three hours or maybe longer, but John Lennon thought it sounded too straight. So we ended up flanging, limiting and compressing it, anything to make it sound unlike brass playing. It was typical John Lennon – he just wanted it to sound weird.”
Geoff Emerick adds: “He was adamant that it mustn’t sound ‘ordinary’…it took quite a long time to get a good take out of them because, throughout the session, John kept complaining that they were playing too ‘straight’ – he had a real bee in his bonnet about that. In the end, to satisfy Lennon’s demand that I take a different sonic approach, I shoved the mics right down the bells of the saxes and screwed the sound up with limiters and a healthy dose of effects like flanging and ADT; we pretty much used every piece of equipment at hand.” At 2:30 am the next morning, everyone filed out of EMI Studios for the night, apparently satisfied with the results of the day.
However, the song was far from complete. While attention was given to various other “Pepper” tracks, they returned to “Good Morning Good Morning” fifteen days later, on March 28th, 1967 in EMI Studio Two. The first decision was to redo John’s lead vocals, which they did first shortly after their arrival at 7 pm (or thereabouts). This filled the four track tape, so they did a tape reduction of ‘take 10’ which reduced all of the elements to two tracks, this now being called ‘take 11.’
The next point of business was what would fill the gap in the solo section of the song. “Paul overdubbed a lead guitar part on the song,” Emerick explains, “which didn’t do anything to improve George Harrison’s mood. It seemed to me as if George was aggrieved a lot of the time…with good reason: Paul was playing a lot of his leads, and he had precious little to do. In addition, the one song he’d brought to the album had been rejected. (“Only A Northern Song.”) As we got into our fourth and fifth month of recording, the preparatory meetings at Paul’s house started to trail off, so the four Beatles began arriving at Abbey Road separately. Paul was almost always the first to come in, since he lived nearby, and George Harrison was often the last, so if Paul got an idea for a guitar part and Harrison wasn’t around, he’d sometimes say, ‘Well, let’s get on with it – I’ll just play the part myself.’”
So, Paul performed the blistering guitar solo on this song, even double-tracking it at a strategic place just before the final verse. Also overdubbed on this day was backing vocals by John and Paul, which include the “good morning, good morning” harmonies and John harmonizing with himself during the latter half of the song. Since George didn’t arrive in time to perform the guitar solo and also didn’t make it for the backing vocals, one wonders if he made it in at all that day.
“It was in the middle of the night,” Geoff Emerick recalls about the session at that point, “and I thought we were about to knock things on the head, but instead he came up to the control room and initiated a long conversation with me. Apparently he had been fretting about how to end the song – a simple fadeout was too ‘normal’ for him, so he had come up with a concept. The idea was that as the music was fading away, the sounds of various animals would be heard.” In the film “The Making Of Sgt. Pepper,” George Martin explains: “John wanted to finish theis song with a collection of animal noises, starting off with a cock, identifying with the Kellogg’s commercial, and then each animal was capable of either devouring or frightening the one before it. I mean, we had a whole string of them.”
Emerick continues: “John had actually thought this through to the extent that he’d written down a list of the animals he wanted on there, in order. I loved the idea, and despite the late hour Richard was sent off to the EMI sound effects library to fetch the appropriate tapes. We sat up with John until nearly dawn dubbing them on, George Martin and the others having long gone home. True, the premise kind of breaks down at the end – there’s a sheep chasing a horse and a cow chasing a hen – but it’s all in good fun.”
There were two tapes from the EMI collection used: “Volume 35: Animals and Bees” for the lion, elephant, dog, sheep, cow and cat, and “Volume 57: Fox-hunt” for the dogs chasing the fox, the bugle and the galloping horses. The order of the animal effects are cock, cat, dog, horse, sheep, lion, elephant, dogs chasing a fox with horses galloping, cow and finally a hen.
The majority of the animal sound effects were assembled on this day but were not overdubbed onto the song until later. With some overdubs to “Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite!” being performed at some point during this day as well, the doors of EMI Studio Two were finally closed at 4:45 am the next morning.
Later that day, March 29th, 1967, the group reassembled in EMI Studio Two sometime after 7 pm to finish off “Good Morning Good Morning” as well as begin a new song, this being “With A Little Help From My Friends.” The first order of business was to add a few more animal noises to complete the collage as we’ve come to know it, this then being overdubbed onto take 11. This completed “Good Morning Good Morning” for good, the EMI staff then turning to overdub the elaborate organ sound effects onto “Mr. Kite!” before work on Ringo’s vocal contribution to the album began. By 5:45 am the following morning, the session was finally complete.
With the song now finally complete, a proper mono mix, as well as stereo mix, could be attempted on “Good Morning Good Morning,” this happening on April 6th, 1967 in the control room of EMI Studio Two from 7 pm to 1 am the following day. The same team of Martin, Emerick and Lush worked hard to get both mixes done, the mono being tackled first. Two mono mixes were produced, the second being deemed ‘best’ for the time being.
Then they began work on the stereo mix. Geoff Emerick explains the mixing process for the song: “’Good Morning Good Morning’ ended up with the dubious distinction of being the ‘Pepper’ track with the largest number of overdubs, hence the most four-to-four reductions (premixes bounced between tape machines in order to open up new tracks). Despite that, it still sounds good, albeit a bit strident due to all the compensatory top end we had to add during mixing. There’s a lot of ADT on John’s voice, and on Paul’s lead guitar – in one spot, there’s a huge ‘wow’ on the guitar where the effect almost makes it sound like the note was bent. One reason why our Automatic Double Tracking worked so well was that it had a sweep oscillator control that you could actually play like a musical instrument, allowing you to constantly vary the delay time in response to the performance.”
“During the mix,” Emerick continues, “I also enjoyed whacking the faders all the way up for Ringo’s huge tom hit during the stop time – so much so that the limiters nearly overloaded, but it definitely gets the listener’s attention! Add in the flanged brass, miked in an unorthodox way, and it’s all icing on the cake; take those effects off and the recording doesn’t have the same magic. That song serves as a good example of how simple manipulation can improve a track sonically.”
One discovery during the creating of the stereo mix is explained by George Martin in his book “All You Need Is Ears”: “The order we had worked out for the album meant that that track was to be followed by a reprise of the ‘Sgt. Pepper’ song, and of course I was trying to make the whole thing flow. So imagine my delight when I discovered that the sound of a chicken clucking at the end of ‘Good Morning’ was remarkably like the guitar sound at the beginning of ‘Sgt. Pepper.’ I was able to cut and mix the two tracks in such a way that the one actually turned into the other. That was one of the luckiest edits one could ever get...Sgt. Pepper himself was breathing life into the project by this time”
Rather than admitting to a ‘lucky edit’ as if by chance, Geoff Emerick remembers it differently. “No no, that was no accident,” Emerick relates. “We fully realized that the cluck matched the guitar. In fact it wasn’t a perfect match so we shifted the cluck up in time to match correctly…I didn’t even have to alter the pitch of the cluck with the use of varispeed, though I did tighten up the gap between songs by cutting out a bit of tape…It was a fantastic little thing which will always stick in my mind.”
It took five attempts at this stereo mix to get a ‘keeper,’ remix 5 being the best. The original rhythm track is entirely panned to the left channel while the horns and backing “good morning” harmonies are entirely panned to the right, as is Paul’s double-tracked accentuated guitar riff just before the final verse begins. John’s lead and harmony vocals are centered in the mix, as is Paul’s bass and entire guitar solo. There is some variance in the placement of the animal effects however, some being centered in the mix and others appearing on only the left or right channel. They obviously took great pains to create an interesting audio landscape on this track as with many of the “Sgt. Pepper” songs.
On April 19th, 1967, the same production team of Martin, Emerick and Lush assembled in the control room of EMI Studio Two from 7 pm to 12:30 am to look at improving upon the mono mix of the song. Although they already viewed mono remix 2, as created on April 6th, as ‘best,’ they wanted it to work better as a segue into “Sgt. Pepper Reprise” as they had done on the stereo mix. They put in great pains to create this mono mix, fourteen attempts being made (numbered 10 to 23 for some reason).
The finished mono version is markedly different than the stereo which most are familiar with. First of all, Paul’s guitar solo gets pushed down in volume to allow the vocals “people running ‘round, it’s five o’clock” to be heard more prominently, and his guitar is treated to an extra dose of ADT just after the lyrics “Meet The Wife.” As for the song’s ending, the music fades earlier allowing for only nine repeats of the “good morning” vocal lines instead of ten on the stereo. The fox hunt segment at the end of the animal sound effects is six seconds shorter in mono which then is faded into the hen clucking, this not matching up well with the guitar note on “Sgt. Pepper Reprise” as had the stereo version. All in all, the mono version ends up being six seconds shorter than the stereo and doesn’t include the ‘lucky edit’ they achieved on the stereo mix after all. So much for the claim that the mono version of the “Sgt. Pepper” album is the superior version. Not in this case anyway!
Another stereo mix of the song was made especially by George Martin for the release of “Anthology 2” in 1996. The purpose was to display the state of the song as of February 16th, 1967, which comprised the original rhythm track, John’s first lead vocal take and Paul’s overdubbed bass. The stereo landscape is accentuated by John’s vocals panned slightly to the left channel.
Then, sometime in 2016 or early 2017, George Martin's son Giles Martin, along with engineer Sam Okell, returned to the master tapes of "Good Morning Good Morning" to create a new stereo mix of the song, the intention being to pattern it after what they considered to be the superior mono mix of 1967. The song is more vibrant than ever heard before, the low frequencies booming away because of Paul's bass guitar and floor tom beating. Giles also created mixes for 'take one' and a more inclusive 'take eight,' all three of these new mixes being included in various editions of the "Sgt. Pepper" 50th Anniversary releases of 2017.
Song Structure and Style
The irregularities of “Good Morning Good Morning” are best described by George Martin in the film “The Making Of Sgt. Pepper” as follows: “’Good Morning’ was typical of (John) that it was of odd meters that sounded perfectly natural. I mean, he would have a 3/4 bar, 4/4 bar, 5/4 bar even, without knowing it. It was to be a very hard-driving punchy thing. The tune itself was quite simple, but it was full of accents all over the place.”
John had it parsed out in his head in a quite irregular format, right down to the structure itself. Two different types of verses are displayed in the song which sound identical in the first few measures but go on entirely different tangents as they progress. The structure winds up as ‘verse 1/ verse 2/ bridge/ verse 1/ verse 2 (solo)/ bridge/ verse 1’ (or abcabca) with a brief introduction and extended conclusion added on.
The introduction begins with the rooster (cock) crowing, symbolizing the Kellogg’s commercial inspiration. A four-measure introduction in straight 4/4 time follows immediately with horns blaring away in the first measure as the rhythm track, including Paul's 16th-note floor tom beats, and bass overdub hold down the background. The alarming vocal harmonies of “Good morning, good morning, good morning, good morning, good morning-ah” seem to be meant to startle us out of bed. The last measure comprises a simple snare drum roll from Ringo and an overdubbed guitar accentuation from Paul.
The first verse is twelve measures long but with varying measure lengths which appear as follows: 3/4, 4/4, 3/4, 3/4, 5/4, 4/4, 5/4, 4/4, 3/4, 3/4, 4/4 and 4/4. (This, however, is left to interpretation and may vary in sheet music or personal opinion.) The first five measures feature the rhythm track, bass guitar and John’s lead vocal only, the overdubbed horns coming in again at the sixth measure to fill in the gap while Ringo performs another simple snare drum fill. After allowing John’s vocal melody line to dominate in the five beats of the seventh measure, the horns reappear in the eighth measure and continue to play until the twelfth measure, breaking again for yet another Ringo snare drum fill. The harmony “good morning” vocals appear again in the eleventh and twelfth measures to drill the song’s title into our minds.
The second verse begins relatively the same as the first except for the horns playing a counter-melody to John’s vocal phrasings right from the beginning this time. This verse veers away from the structure of the first verse after the fifth measure is heard, this verse being only five measures in length. The song then abruptly moves into the first bridge which is played in a swing beat not-unlike what is heard in “Fixing A Hole” and sticks with a 4/4 meter throughout, the bridge being six measures long. The horns play a continuous march-like melody line which repeats itself throughout the first five measures. John’s vocals come in on the second measure with rapid-fire speed and throw out line after line until he finally takes a breath for the final sixth measure, which is filled with another snare fill and bass line.
We then move back into a verse of the initial length and style of the first verse, the only difference instrumentally being the horn part beginning in the first measure as it did in the second verse. This transcends into a repeat of the second style of verse with the same instrumentation except for it being used as a solo piece for the song, John’s vocals being replaced by Paul’s blistering lead guitar part. As before, it abruptly moves right into another bridge while Paul still interjects periodic lead guitar phrases. Another added element this time is John harmonizing with himself throughout the entire bridge. And, to top things off, Paul adds an ending lead guitar phrase to the bridge which is double-tracked on top of another of Ringo’s snare drum fills.
We now move into the final verse, which is of the length and style of the first verse. The elemental differences here being that John is still harmonizing with himself throughout and Paul adds one final jab on lead guitar in the sixth measure. Another noticeable difference here is a slight difference in the harmony backing vocals, being sung as “good morning, good morning, good…” in the last two measures of the verse and as the song fades away in the conclusion that follows. The final measure also includes a repeat of the introductory rooster crow, which is actually played slightly slower than what was heard at the beginning of the song.
This crow, then, signals the cacophony of animal effects as described earlier which takes center stage on top of the full backing track complete with backing vocals and horns, Ringo and Paul both adding accentuating drum fills at random. The musical backing track of the conclusion is seventeen measures in length on the stereo mix and fifteen measures on the mono mix, the engineers fading it down differently for each mix. All measures are in 4/4 this time around. Listen carefully, also, for John (or Paul) yelling out another “good!” in the fourteenth measure of the conclusion just before the instrumental track fades away.
John’s musical vision appears to have been portrayed exactly as it was in his head, him staging out the structure on his electric rhythm guitar perfectly on the backing track. His lead and harmony vocals come off effortlessly but with the preciseness of what he intended, even though singing harmony wasn’t usually his strong suit.
George Harrison may have been practically absent from the proceedings, but Paul certainly filled in the necessary gaps with much enthusiasm. The vibrancy of his lead guitar work surely fit the feel of the song, as did his usual intricate bass lines and experimental floor tom fills. And Ringo put in a very dominant performance on drums, putting in his random and sometimes rhythmically awkward drum fills as heard in the conclusion. The song somehow wouldn’t come across the same without them, so our hats go off to you, Ringo!
The domesticated life of John Lennon appears to have crept into the lyric writing with lines like “call his wife in” and “how’s your boy been.” He doesn’t want to go to “work” (see recording studio) because he’s “feeling lowdown,” so he starts “to roam” until he gets to town and sees that everyone around “is half asleep” in their mindless activities and he feels ‘on his own.’ Since he’s got “nothing to do” he even checks out “the old school,” only to find “nothing has changed, it’s still the same.” However, his playful bachelor-like life still rears its head as if to create a distraction from his boredom, as in “watching the skirts you start to flirt…now you’re in gear!” He even appears to be looking for a liaison as he goes “to a show, you hope she goes.” But in the end, even though he has “nothing to say,” it’s still “ok.”
Cleverness is still woven into the lyrics at times, such as the above mentioned reference to the TV show “Meet The Wife.” We also see the tricky pronunciation in “somebody needs to know the time, glad that I’m here,” which is purposely enunciated as “glad the time here.” It’s funny how you can catch the subtle Lennon humor when you look for it.
June 2nd, 1967 was the official US release date of their landmark album “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” which featured “Good Morning Good Morning” midway through the second side.
Being that the song was only considered as an album track, the only way for Beatles fans to acquire the song was on the different variations the album was re-released through the years. This included the limited-edition picture disc release which came out sometime in 1978 and then again on December 15th, 2017 on 180 Gram vinyl using the new Giles Martin stereo mix. Then the album was released on compact disc for the first time on September 21st, 1987. This CD was then re-mastered and re-released on September 9th, 2009. This was also the date that the ultra-rare 1967 mono mix became available on CD as part of the box set “The Beatles In Mono.”
Not to be forgotten is the version made available on the March 18th, 1996 released compilation album “Anthology 2.” It presents 'take eight' as it was so far as of February 16th, 1967, with only the rhythm track, Paul’s overdubbed bass and John’s initial attempt at lead vocals.
The 50th Anniversary Editions of the "Sgt. Pepper" album were released on May 26th, 2017, the excellent newly mixed stereo version allowing Beatles fans to hear "Good Morning Good Morning" as they never heard it before. Apart from the single CD being released, a "2 CD Anniversary Edition" included the above mentioned 'take eight' of the song with overdubs and the "Super Deluxe Edition" box set included both versions as well as "Take 1 Instrumental Breakdown." The success of the box set was astounding, reaching #4 on the Billboard album charts, which is an amazing feat for a 50 year old album!
Of course, the song was composed and recorded well passed the concert stage of The Beatles’ career, so no live performances of the song exist. No individual group member ever took on the complexity of the song in a live performance either.
It’s somewhat unfortunate that “Good Morning Good Morning” is overlooked from being the inventive piece of psychedelic recording ingenuity that it was. Being the “Pepper” track with the most overdubs and “bounce downs,” the dour and somewhat depressing message of the lyrics is spruced up to make it an imaginatively energetic piece of art.
At the time of release it appears that the album was viewed as a whole and, therefore, this track was a distinctive element of the “Pepper” experience – hence it’s appearance at the beginning of the final Monkees episode “Mijacogeo” (aka “The Frodis Caper”) which first aired on March 25th, 1968. As time progressed, it became common practice to dissect the album track-by-track, identifying favorites and dismissing the less desirable. Hence, “A Day In The Life” has gone on to win the hearts of fans universally as the winning element of the album, while “Good Morning Good Morning” has declined dramatically in importance. But could this pure slice of Lennon ever be omitted as a non-essential ingredient of the “Pepper” album? I think not!
“Good Morning Good Morning”
Written by: John Lennon / Paul McCartney
- Song Written: December, 1966 to January, 1967
- Song Recorded: February 8, 16, March 13, 28,29, 1967
- First US Release Date: June 2, 1967
- First US Album Release: Capitol #SMAS-2653 “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”
- US Single Release: n/a
- Highest Chart Position: n/a
- British Album Release: Parlophone #PCS 7027 “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”
- Length: 2:41 (stereo) 2:35 (mono)
- Key: A major
- Producer: George Martin
- Engineers: Geoff Emerick, Richard Lush
Instrumentation (most likely):
- John Lennon - Lead and Harmony Vocals, Rhythm Guitar (1965 Epiphone Casino ES-230TD)
- Paul McCartney - Bass Guitar (1964 Rickenbacker 4001 S), Lead Guitar (1964 Fender Esquire), Drums (1964 Ludwig Super Classic Black Oyster Pearl), Background Vocals
- Ringo Starr - Drums (1964 Ludwig Super Classic Black Oyster Pearl)
- George Harrison - Tambourine
- Barrie Cameron - Saxophone
- David Glyde - Saxophone
- Alan Holmes - Saxophone
- John Lee - Trombone
- Griff West or A.N. Other (?) - Trombone
- Tom (?) - French Horn
Written and compiled by Dave Rybaczewski