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Lady Madonna by The Beatles

Album: The Beatles 1967-1970Released: 1968Charted:
4
1
  • Paul McCartney said that this song is a tribute to women everywhere. It was inspired by a picture of an African woman suckling her kid, over the caption "Mountain Madonna." (thanks, Mike - Mountlake Terrace, WA)
  • The piano arrangement was lifted from a '50s jazz classic - "Bad Penny Blues" by Humphrey Lyttleton.
  • British Jazz musicians were brought in on short notice to play the saxophone parts.
  • John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison faked a brass solo by singing through their cupped hands.
  • The Beatles recorded "Lady Madonna" at the same time they were recording its promotional film. In the video for this song, The Beatles are actually singing "Hey Bulldog" (for the most part). They went in to shoot "Lady Madonna" and John changed it at the last minute to "Hey Bulldog." If you watch the video montage for "Madonna" closely, there's even footage from the Get Back sessions thrown in.
  • This was one of five Beatles songs McCartney performed on his Wings Over America tour in 1976.
  • Paul McCartney designed the ads for the single.
  • This was the last Beatles release on Capitol Records (US), or Parlophone (UK). All future releases were on Apple Records, the label The Beatles created.
  • A version sung by Aretha Franklin was used as the theme song for the TV series Grace Under Fire. The show starred comedian Brett Butler and ran on ABC from 1993-1998. For the last season, they used a different theme song.
  • Fats Domino released a version of this later in 1968.
  • Every day of the week is mentioned in the lyrics except Saturday. (thanks, Mike - Mountlake Terrace, WA)
  • McCartney stated in the book The Love You Make that while singing "Lady Madonna" he used what he characterized as his "Elvis voice." (thanks, Mike - Cambridge, MA)
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Comments: 55

Feb 3rd 1968 - Take 3 - Paul overdubbed bass - John and George added very distinctive guitar riff by playing their guitars through the same amp.Richard - Orlando, Fl
This is what I call a "Button Song". When it comes on the radio I start pushing buttons on the radio in a desperate attempt to find something else. My girlfriend at the time loved it, so we had an agreement. When "Lady Madonna" came on I'd suffer through it, when "The Unicorn Song" came on, she'd suffer through it, although not quite suffering in silence as I did for her! :-)Terry - Valliant, Ok
Love the big band horn and sax arrangement.Jim - West Palm Beach, Fl
I always liked the dual use of the "See how they run" when Paul first uses it for the kids, then Lady's stockings.Esskayess - Dallas, Tx
Brilliant vocal arranging on See How They Run!....Yes, I think its in the Fats Domino mold..I think Fats even covered it!Steve Dotstar - Los Angeles, Ca
Wilson Picket did a version of Hey Jude, recorded at Muscle Shoals studio in Alabama, which charted in England. (I believe in 69') An unknown (at the time) studio guitar player played lead guitar on the track... His name was Duane Allman. Back in England a guy by the name of Eric Clapton heard the Picket/Allman version of the song & immediately called his agent to find out who was playing lead guitar on the track, and how in the heck was he making those sounds with his guitar!Martin - Santa Monica, Ca
Come ON. Paul definately sings this one. John sings in the background along with George. Maybe thats where you people get the 'John sings this' from. But on a happy note, I really like the part where all of the days of the week are mentioned, except Saturday.Sydney - Dallas, Tx
Now this is a catchy tune if I've ever heard one. The lyrics tell a story. Great song,strong melody.A simple but classic pop rock song.Great piano,especially how it ends.George - Belleville, Nj
Responding to, "Paul did not play any Beatles tunes on the Wings Over America tour.."
I'd like to hear from anyone who has anything to add. Don't know myself whether he did or not, but I thought it was worth noting that the Wings Over America triple live album, which I own, contains Lady Madonna, The Long And Winding Road and Yesterday.
Bob - Cincinnati, Oh
Fats Domino's "Lady Madonna" was his last record to make Billboard's Top 100, interestingly enough it stayed in the Top 100 for two weeks and was No. 100 for both those weeks... {Fats is one of the greatest!!!}Barry - Sauquoit, Ny
In the 2006 Love version of the song, the starting drums are taken from the song "Why don't we do it in the road" from the White Album.Ahmed - Karachi, Pakistan
I'm going to assume this came out before Glass Onion.K - Nowhere, On
paul did not play any Beatles tunes on the Wings Over America Tour. I was there and have the song list.
mark Topeka ks.
Mark - Topeka, Ks
I think that more than the piano riff was lifted from Bad Penny Blues the whole song is a simplyfied rip-off with mundane words added and as far as I know McCartney never mentioned Humphrey Lyttleton. McCarney is a plagerist, don't beleive me? Check this out: - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N1-pQziWiKkKeith - Westward Ho!, United Kingdom
A long time ago, some guy wrote that Lady Madonna was a hooker, and he explained how the lyrics referred to the comings and going of various johns. I believed that for many years, but now I see that Paul himself said it was about all women. I guess he would know.Mrcleaveland - Cleveland,
Cool song, Paul is the best.Theresa - Murfreesboro, Tn
In the Cirque du Soleil "Love" version of the song, the guitar riff from "Hey Bulldog" is mixed in before the solo, instead of the normal riff for the song. Apparently the songs are played in the same key and almost an identical tempo.Josh - Fayetteville, Tn
Everybody interpret Lady Madonna as tribute to female, even Beatles experts. No way. McCartney is sending a message to the others -the children at his feet and at his breast who are wondering how to manage to feed the rests. He is suggesting that he is the one to conduct the group, the rest are wandering: the stocking needs mending, the papers -songs didn´t come, arriving without suitcase. He is so busy. In fact, he is Lady Madonna.Piti - El Ferrol, Spain
Steve in NYC: The "Hey Jude" LP was only a patched together album made by Capitol mostly of singles and B-sides that never were relased on an previous album. It was actually called "The Beatles Again" and only released in North America. Since it wasn't an "official" Beatles album, Apple did not have it transfered and released as a CD in the late 1980's.Ken - Louisville, Ky
Paul once stated that he used his "Elvis voice" while singing Lady Madonna.Mike - Cambridge, Ma
i only have the "love" version of this song- is it very different from the orginial? im not sure- hope im not missing out...Chloe - St. Louis, Mo
buck, they remix the songs & it so happens that the drums are from "why dont we do it in the road". anyway, paul wrote it about his mum (who was a midwife)Tay - San Diego, Ca
GREAT song! Paul uses the same voice in the second half of "You Never Give Me Your Money."Rosario - Naples, Fl
Does it seem to anyone else that the opening drum beats of the "Lady Madonna" track on the new Love album seem very similar to that of "Why Don't We Do It in the Road?" on the White album?Buck - Livingston, Tx
i love LOVE the beatles. paul is amazing , so imaginative and talented.. i love the vocals, they r so unique. all the beatles r equal and wil live foreverCatherine - Essex, United Kingdom
John Lennon didn't really liked this song. He rather had 'Across the Universe' (the song he wrote) out on single, but they couldn't get a good recording of that song before they went to India.
'Lady Madonna' is the first song after a long list of Beatles-songs that ended on number 1 in the US, that only reached number 4.
Rik - Haarlem, Netherlands
Yes, Paul definitely sings the lead vocal, while John sings the backup, "See how they run," which he added to Paul's composition (and is taken from "I Am The Walrus").Mark B. Stoned - Desperate Hot Springs, Ca
Yes it was Paul, If you listen to Why Don't We Do It in the Road Paul has his nice deep voice, in Hey Jude he has nice Softer voice.
Get it? Got it? Good.
Bianca Sanchez - Alburquerque, Nm
No, it was Paul who sang it. The sources I've read say it was him.Ian - Lethbridge, Canada
I aksed my Aunt and she says John sings it. Which makes sense cause not that I listen to it, it sounds like him.Krissy - Boston, Ma
I like this song. Now does Paul sing this? I thought it sound a little like Ringo. IDK...maybe it's just me. Paul's voice can change.Krissy - Boston, Ma
Anyone heard the Love album? It contains a remix of this song which IMO is actually better than the original.Ian - Lethbridge, Canada
My favorite line is "Thursday night you stockings needed mending-See how they run" Makes me giggle everytimeElizabeth - Grand Rapids, Mi
VERY oddly enough, an instrumental version of this song is featured in the 1984 video game "Bomb Jack". True story. See this page: http://www.arcade-history.com/index.php?page=detail&id=306Tony - Topeka, Ks
Jeez, I LOVE the piano in this song!!!!The best I've ever heard!Olle - Stockholm, Sweden
thsi song is kinda weird, and the thing about her having so many kids, and not being able to pay the bills makes me think she is a prostitute. just what i thought when i first heard it.Izzy - Buffalo, Ny
Paul was trying to write a "Fats Domino" type song when he wrote Lady Madonna.Steve - Fenton, Mo
Steve(ny,ny), it's on 2 cds:
The Beatles 1
and
Past masters,Vol 1
Jonathan - Johnstown, Pa
Fats performs an EXCELLENT version of the song!Don - Newmarket, Canada
That's funny that the songfacts say that Fats Domino covered this song. I'm not very familiar with his music, but this sounds like one he would play. What do you guys think?Stefanie - Rock Hill, Sc
Man, the bass line to this is fun to play!Wes - Springfield, Va
it took my a thousand times listenin to it to like it.. at first i just hated it.. it seemed to be so..,mmm.. oh! i can't find the word.. anyway, one day i said to myself, u're gonna like this today.. so i was lyin (i never knew how to spell it) in my bed listening to the lyrics and i just couldn't believe it.. it was amazing.. i love it since that night..Ariana - Lima, Peru
this song is on the vinyl "hey jude" which also has revolution and hey jude on it. but i can't find it on cd. does anyone know why it was never made a cd?Steve - New York City, Ny
Paul decided that if they had to record a promotional film for this they might as well record a song. What you accually see is them recording the song Hey Bulldog. That is why john plays the piano in the video.John - Shelby, Nv
I had read that some radio stations at the time were reluctant to play the song because of "breast" in it...Kitten - Nyc, United States
The beginning of the Sublime song "What I Got" sounds very, very similar to the beginning of this song. The vocals are sung to almost the exact same tune.Marina - Seattle, Wa
Paul actually might have done drums on this song. I am guessing that Marco's source is the music video, and Jason says that he is using the Beatles website, and I can say that neither of those are 100% trustworthy. Music videos are usually dubbed-- what you are hearing is not what you are seeing. Anyway, the music video conflicts with itsself. In the music video, we see three shots of a drummer-- one that definetly Paul one that is undoubtedly Ringo, and one overhead shot that is unidentifiable. (It's probably ringo kuz the hair color is more of a brown than Paul's black.) The site may not know or tell the truth-- artists are often kinda secretive about who plays what.

But Jason, where on the beatles' site is the credit? when I go to beatles.com I just see lots of ads for new compilations.

you can see the video at:
http://www.dbuggd.com/ladymadonna.mov
Johannes - Hamburg, Germany
adrian, john sings come together, no paul.Alex - New York, Ny
According to the official Beatles website; Paul is credited with double tracked lead vocals, piano, bass guitar and handclaps - but not drums. Maybe he wrote the drum parts, Marco - but he didn't perform them in the recording.Jason - Madison, Wi
Yes, Adrian you're correct! Paul's voice does start to get deeper with this song as the first, but he'll always have that boyish charm!Mia - Elk River, Mn
This is the first Beatles song in which Paul uses a deeper vocal quality. It shows up in several Beatles recordings after this including "Back in the USSR," "Why Don't We Do It In the Road," "I've Got a Feeling," "Come Together," etc...Adrian - Wilmington, De
paul did the drum parts on this songMarco - Los Angeles, Ca
The title was partly inspired by an article Paul read in National Geographic title "Mountain Madonna".Charles - Charlotte, Nc
Another famous musician played sax on another Beatles track- You Know My Name(Look Up The Number)... the Rolling Stones Brian Jones.John - London, England
It was the late Ronnie Scott who played the sax break in the middle. The famous jazz club which still bears his name is still going strong in London's Soho. Opposite is a blue plaque which states that another famous musician and composer lived in the building facing Ronnie Scotts...Mozart!John - London, England