Paul McCartney wrote this song. He came to the studio early every day for a week to sing it because his voice was too clear - he wanted it to sound strained, like he had been performing it all week.
McCartney had deployed the retro shredded-voice form several times before, including on "I'm Down," "Long Tall Sally," and "Helter Skelter." Perhaps a bit of artistic rivalry was afoot here - hard rock vocals in The Beatles had been the domain of John Lennon, and Paul seemed almost to be pushing himself to compete.
Lennon resented that Paul didn't let him sing lead vocals. He felt it was more his style, but since McCartney wrote it, it was his decision. In a 1980 Playboy interview, Lennon even shot down McCartney's vocal efforts, specifically stating that he could have done it better.
The Beatles performed this in their movie Let It Be. While rehearsing the song for the film, John announced that Yoko's divorce with her former husband had finally gone through and he improvised a verse about that. This can be heard on The Beatles Anthology 3.
Suggestion credit: Adrian - Wilmington, DE
One of the reasons McCartney could arrive at the studio so early was because he only lived two blocks away from Abbey Road. Incidentally, this also factors into why he was barefoot on the album cover for Abbey Road. He'd just worn sandals and happened to slip them off. Next thing you know, hundreds of "Paul is dead" rumors.
"Oh! Darling" draws its influence equally from New-Orleans-style R&B popularized by Fats Domino, and the "swamp" style of blues popular in Louisiana at the time. The rest of the group added the doo-wop harmony after the fact.
The Beatles were on the outs when this song was recorded. Alan Parsons, who was an engineer at the sessions, said in a Songfacts interview: "George would come in and work on something on his own, and then Paul would come and do "Oh! Darling." He would come in every day at 2 p.m. and sing 'Oh! Darling' a couple of times, and say, 'No, that's not it,' and then come in the next day and do it again. You wouldn't see more than one Beatle at a time that day."
Kevin from MontrealThis is so obviously a song about loss (in this case, the loss of a great partnership and friendship). Who really cares if Paul and John were lovers on the sly or the very best of friends?! We're just talking about sex. Who cares? What matters is the joy and wonder they brought to the world through their sheer talent, drive, imagination, insight and values. That's why we're all here still talking about 60 years after they formed The Beatles and 50 years after they broke up.
Jennifur Sun from RamonaOne of my tied for first place fav Beatle songs. Paul just sings his soul out on this song and can't figure out how he never lost his voice.
Marian from Bristol, United Kingdom"Paul wrote 'Oh! Darling' after John telling him that he was leaving The Beatles... he actually cried the rest of the day after being driven home by Mal Evans" source: Mojo, march 2007 what are you guys gonna say? This song definitely about John.
Meocyber from Alma, Co I've seen a Paul quote that he was in a Little Richard mood when he wrote this song. It makes sense, from the White Album on, they seemed to be in some nostalgic moods. TWA had Beach Boys(USSR), ragtime(Martha). Then Blues (Old Brown Shoe, For You Blue, Yer Blues). Maybe they kind of sensed " The End" of the Beatles and were subconciously reviewing their early influences. Anyway, Paul's vocals were historically great( think "Stairway " and "Won't Get Fooled Again" power singing).
Brian from Midlothian, IlYou guys are funny. If you listen to the isolated vocals (Do a Youtube search) he clearly says "DARLING" every time, he never says "Johnny". You're reading too much into the lyrics; Paul McCartney has said that it's a f*cking song, not a novel.
Jade from San Francisco, CaI feel like this one is definitely about John, whether due to romantic feelings, friendly feelings, or bandmate feelings on Paul's side, because John was clearly slipping away from the band at this time. This raw emotion had to come from somewhere (the song used to frighten me when I was little because of all the passionate emotions and screaming), and likely it was not about Jane Asher, as Paul had been happily married to Linda for a month when the recording started. Also, does anyone feel like some of the lyrics are subtle references to John's song? For instance, John begged Yoko, "Don't Let Me Down" in a song for the earlier Get Back sessions (later titled Let It Be), while Paul promises "I'll never let you down." In another (slightly more farfetched one), John said in Happiness is a Warm Gun, “When I hold you in my arms, I know nobody can do me no harm,” while Paul repeats, “I’ll never do you no harm.”
This song was recorded from April to August 1969, which was building up to that day in September 1969 when John told Paul (and I quote) “I want a divorce” and left the band. John was making it clear that he didn’t need Paul anymore, and Paul was trying to get him back in to the spirit of the band, sensing what was going to happen and certain that the Beatles would “never make it” without John, which was true. Unfortunately, the rest is history and nothing could hold John in, especially not a vague song that John wanted to have a petty argument about vocals for instead.
Sorry for the essay. Just my thoughts. It's an incredible song, one of my longtime favorites.
Manoel from São Gonçalo, BrazilWell, I heard this song and Paul sings DARLING I do not think he says JOHNNY, however if you pay attention on this part of the song he pronounces JOHN:"BELIEVE ME WHEN I BEG YOU,JOHN EVER LEAVE ME ALONE" and Paul gives a strong intonation on the word BEG. With a headphone it could be noticed.
Erin from Glasgow, United KingdomYes it is a love song, to whoever made that astute observation. It is a great love song. A love song to John. Who very probably knew it was written about him. No two ways about it.
Katy from Layton, UtMMk so I dont think John and Paul were in love but I do think they did love each other because they were friends for such a long time, and I always thought John sang this huh
Julia from Rio De Janeiro, BrazilYou know, when I was a kid and used to listen to my dad listening to this very song, I always sang "Oh Johnny" (and at that time I didn't even know that the song was by the Beatles). I only got to discover it wasn't Oh Johnny a couple years ago when I downloaded a pack with all the songs by the Beatles. Call me crazy, but even now that I know the name of the song, I still hear clearly "Oh Johhny" in some parts. And it makes complete sense to me, because you just CAN'T sing like that without feeling it, like Paul does, so, for me it doesn't seem much like just a random song. I believe it was written for John, with all the tension that there was around that time between them and the rest of the band... It just fits, you know. And I think John knew it was for him.
Emily from St Louis, MoI agree with -Marie, Charlotte, NC-
It seems in the 21st century we still are blind to love. Come on people, matter what their relationship was, it doesn't change how amazing they were together.
Joe from Colorado Springs, CoI once heard that Paul sang this song while laying on his back in the studio...thereby getting that visceral sound. Anyone else hear this?
Ruth from Indianapolis, InYes, Brad, because as we all know, lyrics are always followed to a tee whilst singing. And I'm totally insane because these two could have (not "did," just "could have") had a relationship beyond mere friendship/brotherhood, and it can possibly be seen in this song? Oh, I see...you're from Kentucky where it's certainly alright to love your cousin as long as your cousin is of the opposite sex. Forgive my moment of "insanity".
Freddy from Miami, FlPaul was a beast on this track! John isn't the only one with a powerful voice.
Marie from Charlotte, NcYeah, I agree that this song is totally about John. The original title was probably "Oh Johnny" & Paul just let that slip because he was so into the song. Great, heart-rending vocals by Paul. You can't fake that kind of anguish!
Brad from Lexington, KyI'm sorry Ruth from Indianapolis, but you are totally insane. You have a sick mind. I never would've thought of anything like that. Not to mention the lyrics don't even work with your "theory".
Ruth from Indianapolis, InWell, many things have been speculated about John and Paul's close relationship, including:
1.) John's unrequited love for Paul (there is now proof -- even from Yoko, herself, if you can believe her -- that John wanted to have sex with Paul for "bohemian purposes" and that Paul was known as "John's princess" around Apple, but Paul didn't return John's feelings.
2.) John was in love with Paul and vice versa, but neither ever acted upon their feelings (which is sad considering that they'll never be able to if this is the case).
3.) John and Paul were secretly bisexual and were "friends with benefits" who had to end their relationship for many different reasons (illegal at the time, lovers' spat, both got married, wives were suspicious, media was suspicious; those are many suggestions I've heard).
4.) John and Paul were secretly gay and in a relationship that eventually ended for whatever reason (be it for the real reasons the band broke up or it was also included as one of the reasons the broke up).
And final suggestion (but not a popular/feasible one):
5.) John and Paul were forced to split the band and pretend to hate each other to get the British government off their backs because they were close to charging them with Buggery/Sodomy, and they never really stopped being together (visiting each other secretly throughout the years until John's tragic death).
Yoko has referred to John as a "closet case" in the past, and people have referred to her as "a man in drag," oddly enough.
Lulu from New Orleans, LaI never would have believed it if I didn't just hear it but there's definitely one time where it's possible that he says "Johnny"! And the fact that he says "I'll never let you down" and John's song "Don't Let Me Down" had just been released as a single in January of 1969! And at this point in his life who else could Paul be singing to? His relationship with Jane was over and Linda didn't seem to be going anywhere! I'm not saying this is true (and I'm certainly not saying Paul is gay! if it was about John it would have to be like philos love. Paul doesn't seem to be a good liar-- "body gun" and "polygon" aren't exactly interchangeable-- so I doubt he could have faked straight for so many decades under intense media scrutiny.) because I like a lot of people could find a way to relate many of Paul's songs to his relationship with John which isn't really fair to Paul and his art! Anyway, awesome song, excellent vocals, and personally I don't think John could have done this song justice because obviously Paul felt very strongly about whatever this song was about!
Ruth from Indianapolis, InPaul sings -- very clearly if you are listening with a good pair of studio headphones -- "Johnny" in the second and third verses. Even way before I'd read the Norman book about John's love for Paul, it was obvious that this was directed toward John. Whether it's in a "please don't leave the band" or "please don't leave me" way, who knows. Still a great song, no matter how you slice it.
Semolina from Cologne, Germanythere is no doubt about: paul wrote this song for john ! john wanted to leave the group, paul always wanted the band - and did not want to loose john. so "if you leave me, i´ll never make it alone, oh darling, i´ll never do you no harm!" it is word by word the simple fear about a divorce. and i´m sure, paul really broke down and cried, after john repeated to say, that he did not need him anymore by leaving the group and having found his wife yoko, and paul was definately jealous about it all. remember what linda said about paul´s hard times at that period, never shaved, didn´t care about how he was looking, spend weeks all alone on his farm at campbeltown/scotland in deep dispair and in depression ...
Chloe from St. Louis, Moabsolutely amazing song, my favorite on abbey road. the vocals are so powerful, and have so much anguish in them- the last 'harm' he sings gives me shivers. i guess i can see what you mean about the johnny/darling thing- it does sound a bit like that, and the lyrics do fit....anyone else think john got a little self-absorbed near the end? kind of like roger waters did at the end of pink floyd. happens to every great band.
Kaylah from Stoneville, NcThis is my #1 favorite Beatles song...I love it!
Jessy from Höchstädt, GermanyThis song IS great. I think is just rubbish to say this song is dedicated to John. I think Michael Pittsburgh is right. This song is a LOVE song, -really easy-, just a love song. And Paul McCartney isn't gay (do you think he is gay??!!- rubbish.) A lot of people say, John loved Paul - in a special way- and not Paul loved John. Anyway.... its rubbish. ITS JUST A GREAT LOVE SONG.
Matt from Ny, NyGeorge from Brazil:
I've ALWAYS thought the same thing about the song being directed to John.
Aside from that, I've always been disappointed this track is not recognized as a truly remarkable vocal performance, probably one of Paul's best.
The rhythm guitar coming in on the 2nd and 4th beats of the measures is pure John, as that's something he does on many tracks going back to their earliest numbers.
Phillip from Indianapolis, InI love this songs lyrics. It's great as it is, there is no need to put all that nonsense on it about it being about John and Cynthia. It's a 50's style love song where the singer is pleading to his girlfriend or wife to come back to him and to let her know that he will never hurt her.
Jose from São Paulo, BrazilGeorge, I agree. No questions about.
George from Salvador, BrazilIt doesn't matter if it sounds Like "darling" or "johnny". I just think that every word in these lyrics was written for Lennon.
Kayla from Nashville, TnOh Darling! nothing else get over it!!!!!! Like i said too much time on your hands
Michael from Pittsburgh, PaUmm, guys - it's "Oh Darling!" He is not singing to John. You ARE crazy. It's a love song.
Louis from Salinas, CaC'mon Peter. Don't be such a nayve. Don't you know the clues stuff? Mararishi isn't the title for "sexy sadie" and the hole song is about him.
Peter Griffin from Quahog, RiPaul sings "Oh Darling", not "Oh Johnny" the whole way through this song. If he did sing "Oh Johnny" instead of "Oh darling", why wouldn't "Oh Johnny" be the title.
Michael from Oxford, -"WHEN YOU TOLD ME / YOU DIDN'T NEED ME ANY MORE..." Even Roger Daltrey sounds tame in comparison!
Jose from São Paulo, BrazilOh Johnny! Very clearly.
Cris from Beaufort, ScYes George! I've always thought that Paul sang "Oh Johnny!" in this tune! No, you aren't crazy! Glad I'm not the only one to hear that!
Eric from Byron, NyLet It Be is great and terrible, all at the same time. You can see some great moments between some old friends, but you can also see this tension between them. There are actually clips on YouTube and other places that should have been in the movie, they show a much closer relationship between John and Paul, whereas the final movie seems to highlight the arguments.
And, if you're interested in seeing a low-quality version of the film, copied from the VHS (which isn't much better), it's on Google Video in its entirety.
I read that they had begun to restore it for DVD, but stopped because of all the negative feeling in it.
Steve from Saint Louis, MoLike George from Brazil, it has sounded to me like Paul was singing "Oh, Johnny!" Whether, or not that was true, it got me hearing this song as a plea from Paul to try to patch things up and keep the group together.
Joe from Montvale, NjHard rock doo-wop with strange ending Leslie guitar harmonics.
Alex from Sydney, Australianobody has mentioned that john sang backup vocals towards the end
Jonathon from Clermont, FlIf Paul didn't spend so much time recording "Maxwell's Silver hammer" and trying to make it a single, which he did do, then this might have been released as a single as well.It would have done well in the charts, I think, and probably have become more well known.
Kevin from Quebec, Canadato me his voice still sounds clear
Joey from Nowhere Land, Cahmm, I'm curious to see Let It Be, i heard it's just them in the studio performing, is that right??
Cameron from Bainsville, CanadaThis is one that Paul must have really liked. He put so much emotion into it, and it comes into a perfect piece of art. He really wants this girl to beleive that "he'll never do her no harm". This is one of his best vocals in any Beatles song!
Hannah from Indianapolis, InI LOVE this song, it's amazing.
Brittany from VirginiaI think that if they wanted to get a raspier vocal on it then they should have gone with John. Buuuut Paul just got does wonderful on it and I'm not sure if it would be as good with John singing it...
Brittany from VirginiaGeorge, Itaberaba, Brazil: That makes me smile. Because if you weren't really paying attention, at some points I could understand how you got "Johnny" instead of "Darling". But if you listen to it with headphones on or with it turned up loud then you can actually hear him clearly sing "darling".
Frank from Las Vegas, NvThis song was rated One of the top 20 Vocal performances of all time FANTASTIC and Paul puts so much feeling in it.
Bob from Toronto, CanadaThis is the perfect rock and roll song. It honors early doo-wop rock and roll, but has an incredible edginess. Ringo's fills right before the chorus illustrate why he's one of the most underrated drummers of that era, or of any era for that matter.
Brian from Sydney, CanadaThe '50's 'doo-wop' backing by John and George are pretty much drowned out in the mix, but it can be faintly heard. This is proof that Paul was thinking of the 1950's style of song when he wrote and arranged it, with an obvious late 1960's feel.
Ian from Lethbridge, CanadaJohn and Paul are both great singers, but I think Paul is better, and I don't think John would've been able to hit the same notes that Paul did.
Dani from Boston, MaI heard from somewhere that Paul worked on his voice, making it less "clear" to let the listeners feel the pain someone would go through in that situation. He did a good job with that, because I felt it.
Adalia from Brisbane, AustraliaPaul's raw voice truly made the song, i don't think john would have done it justice quite truthfully.
George from Itaberaba, BrazilOk, Thanks, Izza but I keep listen Johnny!
George from Itaberaba, BrazilPaul sings: "OH, JOHNNY, WHEN YOU TOLD ME YOU DIDN'T NEED ME ANYMORE, YOU KNOW,I NEARLY DIED. OK, JOHNNY, IF YOU LEAVE ME I'LL NEVER MAKE IT ALONE. OH, JOHNNY, I'LL NEVER LET YOU DOWN." This song was written to Lennon, Paul is telling him all these things. AM I CRAZY?
Lee from Clearwater, Fl I think sometimes we have a tendancy to look for too much in a song. It's the "what does it mean?" syndrome. Could it be that every once in awhile the group, or one of the group wanted to do some of the real rock and roll. you know, the stuff that got them to the top in the first place? I mean, I love Strawberry Fields, but it isn't rock and roll, it's beatles. After all they were a rock band, first and foremost. Maybe they didn't want to let go of that completely.
George from Itaberaba, BrazilI think this song shows that' Paul was sad with the end of The Beatles. He sings, I think, "Oh, Johnny", no "Oh, darling". And, in the lyrics, he's telling John that he will "never make it alone".When John told Paul that he didn't need him anymore, Paul nearly died. Does it make sense, someone agree with me? Please answer!
Scott from Columbus, OhPersonally, in my own opinion Paul has always been the walrus. Many people say Lennon played the Walrus in the video, when actually it was Paul. I don't take anything from Lennon however and George and Ringo were great talents as well, but I am a big fan of all that Paul has done in and outside of the beetles. His emotion in this song is amazing...Just amazing.
Lennonfan11 from Regawrhhrh, IcelandI like John and his voice better than Paul, because usually John puts more real feeling into his songs, but I think that even though John was more used to this style, only Paul could sing a song he put so much of his own feeling into.
Ken from Louisville, KyPaul orginally wanted to sing this in two-part harmony with John. They tried a few takes, but John was so stoned and disinterested that Paul cut a "raw" version with himself singing solo.
Roman Garza from San Clemente, CaI really enjoy this song. Paul uses his energy to sound perfect. If you sing this song to a girl, she'll lover you forever. When you sing a love song by the Beatles to a girl, she'll want you forever. Hey if theres any teens out there my e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org I'm just 15.
Jason from Mesa, AzJohn, I have seen Let It Be and it is excellent. I own a copy and watch it occasionally. Especially the ending because it shows the the entire rooftop concert. You can get a copy on ebay. There are usually plenty on there if your interested.
Crystal from Lebanon, OhI love this song. So much soul and power behind the vocals. His voice is more versitile then I thought after listening to this for the first time.
Natasha from Chico, CaI love the raspiness in his voice, i'm glad he worked on it for so long to get the sound. "when you told me..." is very powerful.
Scott Baldwin from Edmonton, CanadaSaying it would be better if Lennon sang this is almost like saying that "Revolutian Number 9" would be better if McCartney wrote it with contributians from Yoko.
Jessa from Brampton, On, CanadaIm torn as to whether this would have sounded better with john's vocals. not that i don't love the song already.
Paulo from New York, NyNot sure Lennon had the range to sing this one...
Shirley from Ocean, NjExcellent song. Paul puts so much feeling into it.
Adrian from Wilmington, DeOne of the best songs on Abbey Road. Kudos to Paul.
Kyle from Madison, AlThis is my favorite Beatles' song. It's the perfect pop song. Paul's vocals on the "When you told me..." part convey so much anguish. Such an awesome and powerful song. I wonder why it doesn't get more credit.
John from West Covina, CaI have two Beatles movies, A Hard Day's Night and Yellow Submarine, and I have seen Help! but never Let It Be.