When the Beatles made the White Album, did they make a strategic, musical decision that they wouldn’t harmonize together on any of the songs, or did that just sort of happen?

BILL MORRISON ...

Actually, they collaborated on over half of the album. They were also working extremely long days without break for months to get the album on the market against industry deadlines. It is no wonder that many songs seem to be solo efforts, but that was not their plan.

I strongly recommend that you (or anyone) should listen to The Esther Tapes of the making of the White Album. You will hear a solid effort by the group rehearsing these songs together in George Harrison’s recording studio in his basement at his Esther house, with all the harmonies one would expect to hear from them. These tapes lend an entirely new perspective.

What most don’t understand is that, with Brian Epstein dead, and there being no manager in place, and that they had opened their new business, and that John, Paul, and George were often called out of recording a song to deal with business issues surrounding that business, and that Yoko Ono had gotten John addicted to heroin and that Yoko had placed a bed in their recording studio and that Yoko had started turning John against the band by constantly telling him that he should be taking over the album while Linda was saying the same to Paul and that Yoko was stealing George’s food, ad infinitum, that they grew angry. The album started as a happy one. The external pressures began tearing them apart. Also, George had blossomed into an outstanding songwriter, whom Paul had acknowledged as being as good as John and himself. George started being dissatisfied that he couldn’t get his songs equal footing. Indeed, John had asked Paul in the middle of these recording sessions whether everyone was trying to get Paul to turn against John as they were trying to get John to turn against Paul.

The issue of solo recordings on the White Album was a matter of expediency as well. They did not have the time to record many of them as a band. But, they are on record as wishing that they could have done so. John was even upset that Paul had recorded solo on “Why Don’t We Do It In The Road”. John loved that song but was saddened when it got caught up in the rush to meet the deadlines.

It’s not like they hadn’t recorded solo before. Paul did “Yesterday” solo in 1966. Each had taken time off from other songs, for example, Paul was not performing on John’s “She Said, She Said”. Therefore, I sincerely believe that people are over reading the fact that some of the songs on this album were solo efforts.

Finally, there are some songs that I wish had been omitted altogether and replaced with better work from George. George had recorded “All Things Must Pass”, “Sour Milk Sea”, and “Not Guilty”, all outstanding songs, that could have replaced “Revolution #9”, “Wild Honey Pie”, “Good Night”, and “Don’t Pass Me By”. I believe that this would have made a stronger album and assuaged much of George’s angst.

I hope that this answer helped.

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