Hello Goodbye (Lennon/McCartney)

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Hello Goodbye (Lennon/McCartney)

Hello Goodbye originates from a demonstration by Paul to Alistair Taylor (one of Brian Epstein’s assistants) on how Paul went about writing songs. Paul asked Taylor to shout the opposite of whatever he sang as he played a chord on the piano. Weeks later, Paul brought the demo into the studio to record.

Quotes

“That’s another McCartney…an attempt to write a single. It wasn’t a great piece.” – John Lennon

“’Hello Goodbye’ was one of my songs. There are Geminian influences here I think: the twins. It’s such a deep theme in the universe, duality – man woman, black white, ebony ivory, high low, right wrong, up down, hello goodbye – that it was a very easy song to write. It’s just a song of duality, with me advocating the more positive. ‘You say goodbye, I say hello…You say stop, I say go.’ I was advocating the more positive side of the duality, and I still do to this day.” – Paul McCartney

“When Jane had gone, Paul used to phone me and say, ‘I’m fed up, could you come up to Cavendish Avenue, and we’ll have a Scotch and Coke?’ So, this night, we were sitting, and he said to me, ‘Have you ever thought about writing music?’ So, I said, ‘Good grief, no.’ So, he said, ‘It’s dead easy. Anybody can write a song.’ So, I said, ‘Oh, come on, Paul. Don’t be silly. If that were the case, everybody would be writing.’ He said, ‘Come on, we’ll write a song.’

“In his dining room, he had this old hand carved harmonium, you know, a little organ, that you pumped to get the air into it, with big peddles at the bottom. He lifted the lid of this and said, ‘Right, you get on that end, and I’ll get on this end.’ I was at the treble end, and he was at the bass end. And, as we were peddling like mad, he said, ‘What I want you to do is hit any note, any note at all. Don’t worry about what ones; just hit notes with both hands, as you feel like it. I’ll do the same this end, and I’m going to shout out a word, and I want you to shout out the opposite word. That’s all, and then we’ll write a song.’ So, I said, ‘Yes, all right.’

“We started this, and we got the rhythm going, just banging the keys. Then he shouted, ‘White,’ and I shouted, ‘Black,’ and so it went on. ‘Come,’ ‘Go,’ ‘Hello,’ ‘Goodbye,’ we did a few more, and it lasted about five minutes. Then we packed up. He said, ‘There you go, we’ve got a song.’” – Alistair Taylor

“This went on for a little while before things got out of hand as they began throwing swear words into the pot. Alistair laughed so hard he slid off the bench…A few weeks later (Taylor) was toiling away in his office when the door swung open and Paul walked in. ‘Hello,’ Alistair said. ‘And goodbye,’ Paul replied as he tossed a record onto the desk. ‘It’s the new single.’  Alistair picked it up and read the label. It was titled ‘Hello Goodbye’…’What’s this Paul?’ he asked. He pointed at the writing credit of Lennon-McCartney. ‘Surely it should read Taylor-McCartney!” – George Gunby, from ‘Hello Goodbye, The Story Of Mr. Fixit’

Personnel

  • Paul McCartney – lead vocal, backing vocal, piano, bass, bongos, conga
  • John Lennon – backing vocal, lead guitar, Hammond organ
  • George Harrison – backing vocal, lead guitar
  • Ringo Starr – drums, maracas, tambourine, backing vocal (coda)
  • Kenneth Essex – viola
  • Leo Birnbaum – viola

Release history

Chart performance

  • #1, December 6, 1967 – January 23, 1968 (7 weeks), Record Retailer (UK)
  • #1, December 30, 1967 – January 19, 1968 (3 weeks), Billboard (US)