I'm Only Sleeping

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"I'm Only Sleeping"
Song by The Beatles from the album Revolver
Released5 August 1966 (UK)
Recorded27 and 29 April, 5 and 6 May 1966,
EMI Studios, London
GenrePsychedelic rock
Length3:01
LabelParlophone
WriterLennon–McCartney
ProducerGeorge Martin
Revolver track listing
Music sample
 
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"I'm Only Sleeping"
Song by The Beatles from the album Revolver
Released5 August 1966 (UK)
Recorded27 and 29 April, 5 and 6 May 1966,
EMI Studios, London
GenrePsychedelic rock
Length3:01
LabelParlophone
WriterLennon–McCartney
ProducerGeorge Martin
Revolver track listing
Music sample
"I'm Only Sleeping"
Song by The Beatles from the album Yesterday and Today
Released20 June 1966 (US)
Recorded27 and 29 April, 5 and 6 May 1966,
EMI Studios, London
GenrePsychedelic rock
Length3:01
LabelParlophone
WriterLennon–McCartney
ProducerGeorge Martin

"I'm Only Sleeping" is a song by The Beatles from their 1966 studio album Revolver. It was released two months earlier in the United States on the album Yesterday And Today and did not feature on the original US version of Revolver. It was written by John Lennon[1] but, like all The Beatles' songs written by Lennon or Paul McCartney, it is credited to Lennon–McCartney.

Contents

Recording

The recording of the song began in EMI Studios on 27 April 1966 with eleven takes of the rhythm track. Five further takes of the song were recorded but none were used. Take 11 was chosen as the master and two days later Lennon added his lead vocals. On 5 May, George Harrison wrote and recorded the double guitar part. The next day the recording was completed by Lennon, McCartney and Harrison's backing vocals.

The song features the then-unique sound of a reversed guitar duet played by Harrison in a five hour late-night recording session with producer George Martin. Harrison perfected the part with the tape running backwards so that, when reversed, it would fit the dreamlike mood.[2] One guitar was recorded with fuzz effects, the other without. Engineer Geoff Emerick described the meticulous process as "an interminable day," lasting nine hours. "I can still picture George hunched over his guitar for hours on end," Emerick wrote in 2006, "headphones clamped on, brows furrowed in concentration."[3]

During the break before the second bridge, at about 1:57 into the song, a barely audible voice (probably Lennon's) can be heard saying, "Yawn, Paul", followed by a slightly more audible yawn at 2:00 minutes. The prominent acoustic rhythm guitar track is electronically compressed.

Interpretation

The first draft of Lennon's lyrics for "I'm Only Sleeping", written on the back of a letter from 1966, suggests that he was writing about the joys of staying in bed rather than any drug euphoria sometimes read into the lyrics.[3] While not on tour, due to his lack of routine, Lennon would often spend his time sleeping, reading, writing or watching television, often under the influence of drugs, and would often have to be woken by McCartney for songwriting sessions. In a London Evening Standard article published on 4 March 1966, which contained quotes from an interview in which Lennon made his "more popular than Jesus" remark, Maureen Cleave, a friend of Lennon's, wrote, "He can sleep almost indefinitely, is probably the laziest person in England. 'Physically lazy,' he said. 'I don't mind writing or reading or watching or speaking, but sex is the only physical thing I can be bothered with any more.'"[4]

Release

The song was first released on 20 June 1966 as track 2 on the US album Yesterday And Today and on 5 August 1966 as track 3 on Revolver, the album for which the song was originally intended. The US version of Revolver did not feature the song as it had already been released: US Beatles releases frequently differed from the British versions.

The mono and stereo versions of "I'm Only Sleeping" differ in the positioning of the backwards guitar:

Since the release of The Beatles' music on CDs in 1987, the UK stereo version of the album has become the standard version in the US.

Part of an instrumental rehearsal of the song featuring a vibraphone and the first take of the song from 29 April 1966 were released on the 1996 album Anthology 2. The UK mono version of Revolver was released on CD as part of the 2009 The Beatles in Mono remastered box set.

Cover versions

The song has not been covered by many artists over the years, but some who have tackled it include:

Personnel

Personnel per Ian MacDonald[5]

Notes

References

External links