Yellow Submarine (Lennon/McCartney)

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Yellow Submarine (Lennon/McCartney)

Despite rumors that the song was about drugs (specifically, yellow pills or ‘downers’) Yellow Submarine was an enormously successful children’s song written in bed by Paul as a simple singalong. The song was the basis for the wildly popular 1969 animated film of the same name.

A spoken-word introduction was recorded by Ringo Starr but was ultimately abandoned. A version of the song with this introduction was included on the Real Love single in 1996.

In the remixed version of the song appearing on the Yellow Submarine Songtrack, John Lennon’s “echo” of Ringo’s line “a life of ease” was included, whereas it did not appear in the original mix. Also, all of John’s “reply” lines were panned and faded from right to left and the sound effects were more pronounced in that version.

With a little help…

Sound effects and background chatter were provided by Neil Aspinall, Pattie Boyd, Mal Evans, Marianne Faithfull, Brian Jones, and chauffeur Alf Bicknell (laughter, clinking glasses, etc.)

Famous cash register

The cash register sound effect was from the famous special effects closet at Abbey Road Studios and was used in 1973 on Money by Pink Floyd.


“It’s a happy place, that’s all. You know, it was just… We were trying to write a children’s song. That was the basic idea. And there’s nothing more to be read into it than there is in the lyrics of any children’s song.” – Paul

“I was laying in bed in the Asher’s garret…I was thinking of it as a song for Ringo, which it eventually turned out to be, so I wrote it as not too rangey in the vocal, then started making a story, sort of an ancient mariner, telling the young kids where he’d lived. It was pretty much my song as I recall…I think John helped out. The lyrics got more and more obscure as it goes on, but the chorus, melody and verses are mine.” – Paul McCartney

“Yellow Submarine’ is Paul’s baby. Donovan helped with the lyrics. I helped with the lyrics too. We virtually made the track come alive in the studio, but based on Paul’s inspiration. Paul’s idea. Paul’s title…written for Ringo.” – John Lennon

Recording history

  • May 26, 1966 (5 takes)
  • June 1, 1966 (special effects overdubs)
  • June 2, 1966 (mixing)
  • June 3, 1966 (mixing)
  • June 22, 1966 (mixing)


  • Ringo Starr – lead vocal, drums
  • John Lennon – acoustic guitar, backing vocals, sound effects (bubbles)
  • Paul McCartney – bass guitar, backing vocals
  • George Harrison – acoustic guitar, tambourine, backing vocals
  • Mal Evans – bass drum, backing vocals
  • George Martin – backing vocals
  • Geoff Emerick – backing vocals, tape loops
  • Neil Aspinall – backing vocals
  • Alf Bicknell – sound effects (rattling chains)
  • Pattie Boyd – backing vocals
  • Marianne Faithfull – backing vocals
  • Brian Jones – backing vocals, sound effects (clinking glasses)
  • Brian Epstein – backing vocals

Release history

Chart performance

  • #1, August 8 – September 14, 1966 (4 weeks), Record Retailer (UK)
  • #2, August 20, 1966 (US)

Notable covers

  • Black Mills Dyke Band; 1968 (single)

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