This song was based on a 17th century poem by Thomas Dekker called Golden Slumbers Kiss Your Eyes:
Golden slumbers kiss your eyes Smiles awake you when you rise Sleep, pretty wantons, do not cry And I will sing a lullaby Rock them, rock them, lullaby Care is heavy, therefore sleep you You are care, and care must keep you Sleep, pretty wantons, do not cry And I will sing a lullaby Rock them, rock them, lullaby
Paul McCartney wrote this on his stepsister's piano. He saw the song "Golden Slumbers" in her songbook and, unable to read music, made up his own using most of the original lyrics.
According to Mark Lewisohn's The Beatles Recording Sessions, McCartney recorded this song on July 2, 1969, a day after Lennon suffered injuries from a car accident in Scotland that left him in a hospital until July 6th. So Lennon did not perform on this song. George Harrison played bass guitar as Paul was playing piano.
Recorded as one song with "Carry That Weight," this is part of a suite of songs at the end of Abbey Road. It was the last album The Beatles recorded, although it was released before Let It Be.
Elbow covered this for the 2017 UK John Lewis Christmas commercial. The festive ad, directed by Bjork collaborator Michel Gondry, tells the story of 'Moz The Monster' who is befriended by a young boy after he discovers him living under his bed. Elbow frontman Guy Garvey told HMV.com the story of their cover:
"John Lewis got in touch and said 'Beatles, Michel Gondry,' and we said 'Yes please!' It's such a beautiful song, I don't ever remember not knowing that song, it's such a part of my background. My mum said she was having a particularly hard time when that record came out, and she said 'it saved my life, it really did'. So to hear us covering it means an awful lot to my mum, you know? It really moved her.
It's just such a privilege, we really didn't bring anything to the table, the song is absolutely a masterpiece and I thought the advert was brilliant, I really, really liked it."
Other artists that have recorded covers of the song include:
George Benson as part of an entire album covering Abbey Road, called The Other Side of Abbey Road.
The Bee Gees and Peter Frampton for the 1978 film Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.
Jennifer Hudson for the soundtrack to animated movie Sing.
Trebor from TexasJOHAN-Your account of the interview with Wigg is skewed. He and Paul only discussed the lyrics of "Because" and Paul did give credit to John for the lyrics. They never discussed the music so how could Paul create the impression that he (Paul) composed the song? By the way,some people think that the medley on side 2 of Abbey Road is the Beatles finest music and in no small way a credit to Paul for his hard work in putting it together.Even John at one coherent moment expressed his enthusiasm for its creation. But you would never acknowledge that because, according to you, John Lennon WAS The Beatles and the other 3 were merely side men. You need to stop making up facts that fit your bias.
Ken from Lake Ccity, FlAnd from there, total silence.... It is "The end".... "And in the end, the love you take, (The creativity), is equal to the Love, you made"....... And it Was beautiful. Even in the midst of their nasty bickering and fighting at the time, they were able to pull.... All of this together, and to make it beautiful. And that, boys and Girls, is what Made The Beatles ..... The Beatles..... :-) (That's my story.... How else can it be explained? And I'm sticking to it. (Always have). As John said: "We were a pretty good little garage band" ..... (I think that John said that.... Or was it Paul?)
Ken from Lake Ccity, FlAnyway: It's classic: It was, at that time, Macca against the three. And so, e sings his .... Burial / eventual (Hopefully at that time) future "Resurrection", only to be met with (No harmonies: Just shouting) "Boy, your going to carry that weight a long time" (And Don't they sound angry!?). And then he tries again, only to be met again with the same.... And then the entire tenor/ tone chances. The music, vocals, everything becomes angry. ("Oh yea, All Right. ALL you wanna be in my dreams.... Tonight!). (Followed by Ringo's first, last, and only drum solo. And then, the three way giutar lead solos, getting angrier and angrier (Paul, George, John X3, with Johns last being total chaos).
Ken from Lake Ccity, FlAlright, Bouys and Gulls: Listen up.... The end of Abbey Rd. (At least the Very end) was a moving, compelling tale of the Beatle's breakup. You can think of it ... Even as Operatic. And although there are references Everywhere, from Golden Slumbers on is magic.... Golden slumbers: Paul was in bitter disputes with the other three. Management issues, etc. But the writing was on te wall... The Beatles were going to (officially) separate. And so the song opens. (Oh, I know that at some point... May have been George, that said that the Beatles were beyond writing "Love to boy to girl" so to speak) Love Songs. And so, "Near the end", when they used the feminine pronoun ("She", "Darling", .. Whatever)... The feminine pronoun was The Beatles: The Beatles were , after all, their "Baby", and it was crashing (e.g. "Something in the way she moves"). Furthermore, it was said that when they spoke of "Love", they were speaking of their own creativity and what they brought in and took away (e.g. "And in the end, the love you take, is equal to the love, you made".... And George: "You're asking me if my love grows, I don't know. You stick around and it may show. I don't know (Into his Very Nice lead solo). ... Just as an example, but the point is, ALL of Abbey road was about the Beatles, beginning to end (First song: "Come together:" Last Total song: "The end"). By the way: Brian Epstein, I'm pretty sure, was Polythene Pam, and John (I believe) was Mean Mr. Mustard. "She" came in through the bathroom window, protected by a silver spoon" (The Beatles came in protected by... Brian.....). Anyway! Back to Golden Slumbers! Paul begins with "Once there was a way to get back home".... Very Melancholic, almost a durge. "Sleep pretty Darling do not cry".... (He's putting the Beatles to sleep.... And smile awaits you when you rise". (See next).
Johan from Stockholm, SwedenMost people think that Harrison's Something and Here Comes The Sun, and Lennon's Because and Come Together are the best songs in the album. Abbey Road. Despite that, the press people continued wrongly - since Yesterday - to believe that McCartney was the Beatles composer! When McCartney was congratulated in March 1970 by Daily Express' David Wigg, Wigg thought that McCartney composed Because and McCartney let him believe that. Five years later the interview was released in a record, with an enormously big picture of McCartney sitting in a crown chair, and a little little picture of Lennon as if he was a little ridiculous clown, and Because is, of course, placed among McCartney's songs. McCartney and Wigg ought to be ashed over themselves.
Jim from West Palm Beach, FlLet's give some due credit to George Martins production/arrangement for the song.
Christian from Berlin, GermanyThe lyrics were taken from "Cradle Song" by Thomas Dekker, yet Dekker does not receive any credit. Even if it is public domain now, the Beatles should have at least acknowledged Dekker in the songwriting credits.
Olivia from Philadelphia, PaThis song is so beautiful :)
Dave from Greater Boston, MaI think it's one of the prettiest songs on The Abbey Road record, esp. considering the cercumstances sourding the Beatles. But don't we all wish we could "get back homeward" sometimes in our lives?
Rj from Philapool, PaMatthew from MA, none of The Beatles could read music. They learned and played by ear. They didn't really need to read music anyway, seeing as they wrote their own and just remembered it.
Maureen from Rochester, NyBritt from Boston-
Paul was 14 when his mother died.
Britt from Boston, MaHow old was darling Paul when his mother died?
Frank from Granchester Meadows, GreenlandA great track from the Swan-song album of perhaps THE greatest band.
Philippe from Kuala Lumpur, MalaysiaAgain,it's about our remembering our golden moments in life! No matter how few.....
Chloe from St. Louis, Moits true, Matthew from MA, as incredible as it sounds. the great Jimi Hendrix never learned either. thats a really interesting perspective, jo, thanks. great song to listen to right before bed, very relaxing.
Jo from So Tx, TxPaul visits his father years after his mothers death. He is now successful and grown but misses, grieves and loves his mother. He misses his parents, his family and childhood family memories and home. His father had remarried and he now has a stepsister. He sits down on the Piano and opens his Step Sisters songbook but he cannot make heads or tails of a composition in it. Instead he writes his own lullabye. Paul is comforting himself the way his mother comforted him. For many of us when we lose our mums home is never the same. Once's mother most times is the heart of most families. Therefore a sad but comforting lullabye. "Once there was a way to get back home......Sleep little darling do not cry and I will sing a lullabye, Golden Slumbers.....Paul still remebers the love warmth and nurturance that his mum was in his life.
Tracy from Tulsa, OkThen the song leads into "Carry that Weight"...could that be a metaphor for paying for what there was no coming back from? A permanent sin?
Tracy from Tulsa, OkOkay, crazy, but this song to me is about death. Once there was a way to get back home...you have done something that there is no turning back from...now there's no hope...so you committ suicide. Golden Slumbers fill your eyes...the ultimate sleep...Smiles awake you when you rise...Heaven/Peace. Someone is wishing you well while either helping or witnessing you die. Morbid, but strangely calming. Everything is going to be okay.
Modernrocker79 from Kearny, NjThis is for Ray from Dundee. The Beatles started out as skiffle group which was folk and jazz influenced music. They as a bar band covered hundreds of songs of many styles including jazz. So they learned their chord progressions from playing many songs. The best you learn by playing. Jimi Hendrix and Brian Wilson could not read music either. Their use of complex chord on middle eights and bridges comes from their influence of Tin Pan Alley. They had a innate ability.
George Harrsion studied under Ravi Shankar so he knew about diminished chords or weird time signatures. The Beatles wrote their music but they could not possibly as great as solo musicians. Anyhow Paul McCartney has composed classical music after the Beatles. John Lennon was against all that symphonic music of side two of Abbey Road. He just wanted to get back to his roots.
Chris from Surrey, BcThat is a very astute observation, Ray from Dundee. However, how do you explain Brian Wilson penning "God Only Knows" and "Good Vibrations" before the time he turned twenty-five? Or Bob Dylan constructing "Blowin' In The Wind" by the time he was twenty-one? Or a wet-behind-the-ears Ray Davies work on "Waterloo Sunset"? The Beatles weren't the only songwriters releasing work of both a complex musical and lyrical nature. In the sixties, songwriters were shoveling out classics by the handful and the majority of them had little to no musical education. Also, how do you explain the countless bootlegs and home recordings of these classic songs that show their evolution for sometimes over a period of several months? I suppose the entire music industry is one big scam, wrapped up in an enigma and kept secret by the hundreds of thousands that are a part of it? And I suppose Martin Luther King is off smoking a fat one with Kennedy and Elvis on a fake moon set in the middle of the Nevada desert?
Catherine from Essex, United Kingdomhmm, the beatles write a lot of songs about sleep haha. This songs amazing. its well placed on abbey road. the beatles are all equal qand will live forever!
Ray from Dundee, United KingdomHi guys. Is it time to burst a few bubbles here? Do you really think the Beatles wrote their own music? An endless supply of hits for nearly ten years, then mediocre songs when going solo. Rigby based on twelth century Gregorian chant music, yet none of the group were exposed to such a genre as children; only to put it out as a B side to Yellow sub. Ever heard the expression (Pearls before swine)or were they so musically astute as to put it on the B side knowing full well it was a classic, but being full of fun put the yellow sub on the A side. There is a psychology here, that to my mind is covering something, something big. I dont think they knew how classic rigby was, because they did not write it, and in this respect, what you dont work for you dont fully appreciate eh! Am I the only one to realise that the middle eight in their second single was more complicated than some composers create? And this being when they were bushy tailed youngsters with only a few years of guitar playing under their belt. Strange how Lennon resorted to the very basic format of G,C,D on guitar when he was on his own. Perhaps he had had enough of creating music on a par with Mozart.As for McCartney, well I am having trouble actualising the notion that someone can unlearn all those years of creating masterpieces, only to take a musical step backwards towards guitar playing that was more commensurate with six years of tuition. Its all there if you look.
Forrest from Rochester, MnI love it when Paul raises the intensity on the line "Smiles await you when you rise" eventhough it is supposed to be a lullabye.
Steve from Fenton, MoStefano, Rome, Italy, I'm not saying that classically trained musicians cannot write good music. Mercury, Howe, and Emerson were obviously fine talents and very successful. Add Andrew Lloyd Webber to your list. I'm just saying that you don't have to be able to read music to write great music and that Lennon and McCartney considered it an advantage that they were not classically trained. As a result they could go anywhere their imaginations would take them musically without any inner block telling them they were breaking the rules or that some idea they had couldn't work. If they wanted to learn a song written by someone else, they didn't go buy the sheet music. If there wasn't someone else to teach it to them by showing how it was played on guitar, they would just sound it out themselves on guitar or piano trying different chords to see which ones sounded right. I think the Lennon/McCartney catalog of compositions is wonderfully diverse in style with a quality greater than anyone else in the rock/pop era. Actually, I think it is better than music of any other genre in the 20th century.
Ken from Louisville, KyIn the Anthology "extras" CD, George Martin, Paul and George discussed the making of this track. Martin said it was recorded "live" with no overdubs. George asked about who played bass, since Paul was on piano, and Paul said it had to be either George or John (the Beatles had a 6 string Fender right-handed bass that both would use occasionaly). George joked that Paul might have played both piano AND bass at the same time, since he (Paul) was "pretty keen".
Bianca Sanchez from Alburquerque, NmIm listening to it right now! Its amazing!
Paul Bert Bilog from Los Angeles, Cai realy love this song. the bass line is fantastic.
Mr. B from Doon Bish, EnglandThis song and 'Carry That Weight' make Abbey Road the best album ever! Beatles are best band ever. No argument!
Lela from Canada, CanadaI love this song!!! Seriously i think it might be my favourite song of the Beatles right now.
Ken from Louisville, KyBoth John and Paul said in separate interviews that none of the Beatles knew how to read or write music "properly". They didn't have to, they had George Martin who could do it for them. Both said they would have felt "inhibited" if they felt they had to follow the constraints of proper notation. In his autobiography, Martin confirmed this, and wryly noted that Cole Porter couldn't read or write music "properly", as well.
Matthew from Milford, Ma...What?!? What do you mean, Paul McCartney can't read music?!??!?!? ...That doesn't make any sense!!!
Deb from Portland , Orgolden slumbers is a lullaby, that is why it is comforting. in the Peter Pan book, the lyric says, Golden slumbers kiss your eyes, instead of fill.
Deb from Portland , Orgolden slumbers was published in the Peter Pan Pic ture Book in 1931, so it could have been even older. none of the beatles wrote t his. also, its not sleepity, it's sleep pretty.
Stefano from Rome, ItalySteve, Fenton, MO: about the ability of reading music and classical training, your opinion is something eccentric and funny at the same time. So you think that people like Freddie Mercury, Steve Howe, Keith Emerson for instance, everyone of which can (or could) read music and are classically trained as well, could not write good music or could not write music at all?
Scott from Los Angeles, CaThis song included with "Carry that Weight/The End had got to be the best finally. In is the finally of the album, as well as the Beatles' career. It's almost cosmic that this trilogy was the last songs ever written by them. Every time I hear it and just think that this was truly there grand finale it gives me goosebumps.
Krista from Elyria, OhThey sang this in the beginning of Happy Feet. Sleepity darlin do not cry!
Brian from Sydney, CanadaThe greatest Beatles song (and it's other parts) and this is coming from a HUGE fan.
Cameron from Bainsville, CanadaThis is one of the best Beatles song. This was one of the first Beatles songs I'd ever heard, and I got hooked to it right away. It's the perfect lullaby-ish song. It puts you right to sleep when you need it to. And the strings are great in this song. And so is Paul McCartney.
Jt from Tullahoma, TnTo Sara from Nashville, yes I agree. I get goosebumps too and this song did need to be a little bit longer. I love how they made them run off into each other. It's pretty cool. But you think you've got goosebumps, feel these nipples!
Jon from Oakridge, OrJust another classic for one of the greatest artists ever.
Sara from Nashville, TnOne of the best songs EVER that wasn't nearly long enough. I think it deserved a complete two minutes or at least Paul singing another chorus...I get goosebumps whenever I hear him sing that! WHEW!
J from Toronto, CanadaActually John or George did play on this track along with Paul. One of them played that Fender Baritone guitar they used as a bass when Paul played piano.
Ian from Lethbridge, CanadaThis is such a beautiful song! Paul has such a powerful voice!
Garry from Anchorage, AkChris Bliss does an amazing juggling routine to Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight. View the video here. Click on the word WATCH to bring up the video. It may take a while to load completely but be patient. It's worth the wait.
Steve from Fenton, MoI think Paul wrote Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight/The End as a catharsis for the impending breakup of The Beatles.
I think McCartney wrote ?Golden Slumbers? to try to express his sadness and hurt (and maybe even depression) at the breakup of the Beatles, and to try to soothe himself at the same time. He?s doing this with a song that is supposed to be a lullaby. A lullaby implies someone who is comfortable, singing a soothing song to someone in need of comforting. The person he is trying to comfort in addition to us, however, is himself. The person singing is also the one feeling the hurt, so Paul?s performance of the song is an emotional dichotomy, one part comforting (?sleep pretty darling do not cry?) and one part pain (?Golden slumbers fill your eyes?) and sadness (?Once there was a way to get back homeward?). That?s part of why this recording is so special.
On ?Carry That Weight?, Paul is conveying anger and blame, whether it?s toward John, Yoko, or Allen Klein, (or all of the above,) before the song heads back to sadness with the reprise of ?You Never Give Me Your Money?.
On ?The End?, Paul comes to terms with the end of The Beatles and tries to help the fans do the same by performing a final number with rotating solos to close out a magnificent career for the group. The fans don?t know quite yet that this is the end, but Paul knows they soon will. And the final line expresses so well the impact of The Beatles, "and in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make".
Interestingly, this series of songs also represented my personal feelings after John Lennon?s murder. In my sadness and shock, I instinctively wanted to hear these three songs.
Steve from Fenton, MoOne reason the Beatles music is so great is that they weren't classically trained musicians, therefore they weren't confined to someone elses rules about what chords go together, etc. They just went with what sounded good to them.
Steve from Fenton, MoI think the only people that need to be able to read music are those that can't write music. The Beatles didn't need to read music, because they could write their own songs.
Mary from Virginia Beach, VaDid Paul learn how to read music after the beatles, or does he still not know how. I mean, as well as he composes, he must kow how. Right?
Lee from Clearwater, FlCaroline, I heard George once say that people were wasting time trying to analyze the beatles music, that none of them could read music.
Jo Bob from Mccleary, WaI thought the convo going on about the Beatles not being able to read music was pretty internesting. Paul can't, I know that, but I'm pretty sure George can...could. I dunno about the other two. George Martin (their producer??) did most of the instructing when it came to orchestras and bands and such. In fact, when Paul wrote the Liverpool Oratorio (way after the Beatles split up), all his "musical thoughts" had to be written down in note form. Anybody hear the Liverpool Oratorio? I hear it got great reviews.
Mauricio from Hanford, CaOn an episode of "The Simpsons", "Lisa's Pony", when homer is driving home and falls asleep on the wheel and the angles are carrying him to a cloud, you could here a piano in the backround; it's playing this song. Most of the Simpson creators are Beatles fans.
Ty from Chardon, OhI have long been a Beatles fan, and rarely gave this song any real thought until last Thursday. My wife was in labor all day. As I left to take a break, I noticed a poem, framed on the wall, labeled 'A Lullaby'. As I got closer, I recognized the lyrics, though just slightly different, in a heartbeat. It was Golden Slumbers, but at the very bottom it read "circa 1700." I was very intrigued to say the least, for I was not aware of Thomas Dekker at all.
The best part of this was just after birth, when I got to hold my newborn baby girl, and the beautiful melody kept rolling through my head. Suddenly this song has become one of my absolute favorites.
And since that day, every time I am holding her, I find myself singing it over and over. 'Sleep pretty darling, do not cry........'
Steve from Fenton, MoGolden Slumbers/Carry That Weight/The End is a beautiful series of songs. I agree that this series of songs was a subconscious and sad farewell to the Beatles by McCartney. This was suggested by Chris Ingham in "The Rough Guide to the Beatles". It was precisely this series of songs I instinctively wanted to hear that Monday night in 1980 that John Lennon was murdered.
Greg from Garden City, NyI think that "Ben, Cheverly, MD" is screwed up if he says that golden slumbers isn't an UNBELIEVABLY AWESOME song!
Shannon from Garland, Txare you kidding? this is song is sweet. i think paul was like so much more serious than the rest of them. but i like how john was always joking around with songs and stuff.
Ben from Cheverly, MdThis one isn't good.
Mauricio from Hanford, CaThanks Sean.
Sean from Newmarket, Canadano, abbey road was recorded last but it was released in 1969, and let it be was released in 1970, to go with the movie, although it was recorded earlier
Matt from Montreal, CanadaA cover version of this song featured on George Martin's 'In my life' album sung by superstar Phil Collins.
Mauricio from Hanford, CaI thought that "Let it Be" was the last album they recorded, not "Abbey Road". When the record companies released it, "Let it Be" came out first, then "Abbey Road". I'm pretty sure that's how it happend.
Laura from Santa Fe, NmIf I had a kid I would sing this song to it every night.
Shannon from Chicago, IlI absolutly love this song. There's something comforting about it.
Zach from Norman, OkBen Fold plays an amazing cover of this song at some of his concerts
Kristen from Aurora, IlI love this song. When I lay in bed waiting to fall asleep this song goes through my head.
Mike from New Point, VaIn a discussion during Anthology, George Martin, Paul, Ringo, and George Harrison surmised that George Harrison played bass on the backing track of the song since Paul was playing piano, the track was all live, and Paul couldn't play both at the same time.
Elliott from Douglassville, PaAt least while The Beatles were together, Paul couldn't read music. So, when he had an idea for a certain orchestral melody or something - for example, the horn solo on "For No One" - he would scat-sing the melody to The Beatles' more classically trained producer George Martin, who would then transcribe the notes on paper for the musicians.
Caroline from Naples, FlGeorge Harrison could read music!
Joe from Milwaukee, WiInterestingly, the next song on the album features the voices and instruments of all the beatles. Big contrast.
Bob from Boston, MaNone of the Beatles could read music--a talent which is pretty much unnecessary for a rock musician.
Kelly from Burbank, CaI thought Paul McCartney could read notes. In fact I thought he was the only Beatle who actually could. I have no facts to back this up or anything, but I was wondering which, if any, of The Beatles could read music. Anyone know?
Marko from Hollywood, FlBack in the late 1960's, I was sitting at my mother's heirloom piano, and I noticed some old sheet music open on the piano stand above the keys. This was really old sheet music. And the song was "Golden Slumbers". And the lyrics were the same as the Beatles song of 1969. Now, this sheet music was NOT just lyrics, it was music too, and it was definitely way before 1969, like centuries before. How do you explain this? Maybe Thomas Dekker wrote the lyrics, but explain why there was sheet music (notes and all) with it! I wish I had kept this sheet music. Marko
Shelli from Madison, WiThis melody was used on a Simpsons episode. When Homer falls asleep driving he imagines his car is a bed and is floating in the sky. They changed it for syndication though.
John from Cheshire, EnglandA cover version of this song by Ben Folds appears on the "I am Sam" O.S.T.