Paul McCartney wrote this one. He explained shortly after it was released in 1966: "'Yellow Submarine' is very simple but very different. It's a fun song, a children's song. Originally we intended it to be 'Sparky' a children's record. But now it's the idea of a yellow submarine where all the kids went to have fun. I was just going to sleep one night and thinking if we had a children's song, it would be nice to be on a yellow submarine where all your friends are with a band."
Paul purposely used short words in the lyrics because he wanted kids to pick it up early and sing along.
Ringo sang lead, as he did on many of the lighter Beatles songs, including "Octopus's Garden" and "Act Naturally
." Originally, Ringo had a spoken intro to go with the children's story theme, but this was discarded. Ringo did eventually get his chance to narrate for children: he was voice talent on the UK cartoon Thomas The Tank Engine
. (thanks, Bertrand - Paris, France)
As with just about every Beatles song, there's a lot that can be read into this one if you look hard enough. One possible interpretation: Once famous, The Beatles were forced to stay in hotel rooms and live under pressure = Submarine. Because they were having a great time it was Yellow (friends are all aboard). Sea of green = money. (thanks, mike - los angeles, CA)
The sounds of bubbles, water, and other noises were recorded in the studio. The background vocals (and some effects) were done by John, Paul, and George and they had some help on the fadeout chorus by Mal Evans, Neil Aspinall, George Martin, Alf Bicknell (their chauffeur), Geoff Emerick, Brian Jones, Marianne Faithful, Pattie Harrison and a few other staff people that were in the building at the time. The "bubble" effects are John blowing into a straw. All of the speaking parts are done by John and Paul.
Some people felt this song had deeper meaning about drugs or war. The Beatles said it did not, but they were used to people reading too much into their songs. On The White Album
, there is a song called "Glass Onion
" that addresses this issue.
The chorus at the end consists of the studio crew, as well as their friends Mal Evans and Neil Aspinall, producer George Martin, and Pattie Harrison. The famous folk singer Donovan, who was McCartney's friend and neighbor at the time, helped him with uncredited lyrical contributions on this song. He likely also recorded backing vocals in the chorus. (thanks, Jonathon - Clermont, FL)
According to Steve Turner's book A Hard Day's Write
, about a month after the album was released, there were barbiturate capsules that started to be known as "yellow submarines." McCartney denied any comparison to drugs and said the only submarine he knew that you could eat was a sugary sweet he's come across in Greece while on holiday. These had to be dropped in water and were known as "submarines." (thanks, Ant - Belleville, Canada)
This was the title song from an animated movie
featuring The Beatles as cartoons. The Beatles had a lot going on at the time, so actors were brought in to voice their lines. In the film, The Beatles try to save Pepperland from the Blue Meanies, who hate music. We won't spoil it by telling you how it ends.
The photographic scenes shown in the movie Yellow Submarine are of well-known locations in England, including Buckingham Palace and Big Ben. (thanks, Patrick - Tallapoosa, GA)
After he got the idea for the song, McCartney dropped by Donovan's place and asked him for suggestions to close the tune. Donovan came up with "Sky of blue, sea of green." Donovan went with The Beatles on their retreat to India in 1968.
In 2004, McCartney voiced over 3 animated short films for a project called The Music And Animation Collection. He explained that it was much more fun voicing other characters, and he had no interest in using his own voice on the Yellow Submarine movie.
Spanish premier division soccer team Villareal is nicknamed "Los Submarinos Amarillos" (Spanish for "Yellow Submarine") because of their yellow uniforms. (thanks, mark - Rotterdam, Netherlands)
According to Q magazine, this song originally featured a medieval-style poem as an intro. Written by Lennon and narrated by Starr, the poem was inspired by a 1960 charity walk from the south west tip of England to the northern coast of Scotland by pioneering health enthusiast Dr. Barbara Moore.