The Ballad Of John & Yoko was the Beatles' first stereo single released in the UK. This session marked the return of recording engineer Geoff Emerick after he quit working with the group during the tense White Album sessions nine months earlier.
No George or Ringo
John plays acoustic guitar, lead guitar, and percussion. Paul plays drums, bass guitar, piano, and maracas. Recorded in a single 8 1/2 hour session in 11 takes (the released version being the tenth). George and Ringo are not present.
Preparing for backlash
In light of his comments about the status of Christianity in 1966 and the subsequent American outburst, John - knowing that the use of "Christ" in the lyrics would cause similar issues - sent a memo to Apple Records official Tony Bramwell: "Tony - No pre-publicity on Ballad Of John & Yoko especially the 'Christ' bit - so don't play it round too much or you'll frighten people - get it pressed first." The song was banned by several American radio stations.
In addition to the lyrical controversy in America, the song was the target of criticism from the government of Spain for the line, "You can get married in Gibraltar near Spain," as the status of Gibraltar is a long-running subject of debate between Spain and the United Kingdom. Because of this, One After 909 replaced The Ballad Of John & Yoko on the Spainish edition of the 1973 double compilation LP 1967-1970.
"It was very romantic. It's all in the song, The Ballad Of John And Yoko, if you want to know how it happened, it's in there. Gibraltar was like a little sunny dream. I couldn't find a white suit - I had sort if off-white corduroy trousers and a white jacket. Yoko had all white on." - John
- The Ballad Of John And Yoko / Old Brown Shoe (single) (1969)
- 1967-1970 (1973)
- The Beatles Box (1980)
- 20 Greatest Hits (1982)
- Past Masters (1988)
- 1 (2000)
- #1, June 11-July 1 (3 weeks), Record Retailer (UK)
- Hootie & The Blowfish (from the "Let Her Cry" US single)