Imola, Innocenzo di Pietro Francucci da

Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da

"Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da" is a song by The Beatles originally released on the double-disc album The Beatles (also known as The White Album), and later released as a single. It is a Paul McCartney composition, but credited to Lennon/McCartney.

Musical composition

The song was a conscious homage to the emerging reggae movement (lyrical reference: "life goes on bra"), possibly related to the growing Jamaican population in Britain, although it is heavily blended with honky tonk. Aside from the syncopated beat, the song also employed metre schemes and devices not used in the Beatles' previous works and demonstrated the group's highly experimental nature at the time of its recording.

The song is in the key of Bb major. The structure of the song is as follows:

Intro, Verse, Chorus, Verse, Chorus, Bridge, Verse, Chorus, Bridge, Verse, Chorus, Outro

According to studio engineer Geoff Emerick, John Lennon openly hated the song, calling it "Paul's granny shit." After leaving the studio during recording of the song, (after several days and literally dozens of takes of the song, trying different tempos and styles) Lennon returned a few hours later, heavily drugged, declaring loudly that he was more stoned than he had ever been and than the other Beatles would ever be. He then went to the piano and banged out the unique piano introduction to the song, claiming that it was what the song needed. The chords that he played are the ones used in the final mix. (According to Blender, the song has "the woefully unconvincing laughter in the final line: 'If you want some fun — heh-heh-heh-heh! — take ob-la-di-bla-da!'", which is why it was listed as #48 in its list of the "50 Worst Songs Ever".)


Nigerian musician/singer Jimmy Scott later claimed that the phrase "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da" was originally his; Scott sued McCartney for compensation for using the phrase in the lyrics and as the title of the song. According to McCartney, "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da" merely was a common saying of the Yoruba tribe, and Scott had simply taught the saying to McCartney. It reportedly means "Life goes on", words which are also heard in the song.

This song was part of the list of songs deemed inappropriate by Clear Channel following the September 11, 2001 attacks, presumably because of the "life goes on" part.

Cover versions

In popular culture

  • The song is referenced in Savoy Truffle composed by George Harrison, which is on the same album
  • Spanish/French fusion singer Manu Chao references the phrase repeatedly at the end of his 2001 hit single, "Me Gustas Tú."
  • The song came top in an online poll of the worst songs ever.
  • In the popular play Angels in America, written by Tony Kushner, Louis tells Joe, "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Di."
  • In the Hindi song,"zara tasveer se tu" from the movie "Pardes", Shahrukh Khan belts out "Ob La Di, Ob La Da"
  • The song was used as the theme song of Life Goes On'', sung by the cast with Patti LuPone on lead vocals. The DVD release of Life Goes On, Season 1, has a replacement theme song at the beginning of each episode with the exception of the show's pilot. The replacement was due to high licensing costs for the Beatles' song "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da."


  • Paul McCartney – vocal, bass, handclaps, 'vocal percussion'
  • John Lennon – backing vocal, piano, 'vocal percussion'
  • George Harrison – acoustic guitar, backing vocal, handclaps, 'vocal percussion'
  • Ringo Starr – drums, bongos, percussion, handclaps, 'vocal percussion'

Above credits per Ian MacDonald and Mark Lewisohn

  • Horns arranged by George Martin

Chart positions

The Beatles version

Chart (1969) Peak
Australian Kent Music Report 1
Austrian Singles Chart 1
Swiss Singles Chart 1
Japanese Oricon Singles Chart 7
Japanese Oricon International Chart 1

Chart (1976) Peak
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 49

Marmalade version

Chart (1969) Peak
UK Singles Chart 1
Austrian Singles Chart 1
Norwegian VG-lista Singles Chart 1
Swiss Singles Chart 2


External links

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