"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.
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,
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".)
/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.
- Arthur Conley, on the album More Sweet Soul.
- Jimmy Cliff, on the album Humanitarian.
- Celia Cruz (a version in Spanish), on the album Tropical Tribute to the Beatles.
- Cincinnati Pops Orchestra, on the album Music of the Beatles.
- Daniel O'Donnell, on the albums The Jukebox Years, Rock 'n' roll show.
- James Last, on the albums "Die grössten Songs von The Beatles" (1983) and "James Last & Friends" (1998) (as a part of the "Beatles Medley")
- Maria Muldaur, on the album The Blues White Album.
- Marmalade (reached number one in 1969).
- The Bedrocks, a West Indian band from Leeds (reached number 20 in 1968).
- No Doubt, on the albums Boom Box, Live in the Tragic Kingdom.
- Persuasions, on the album The Persuasions sing the Beatles.
- Phish, on the album Live Phish Volume 13.
- Shango, on the album Shango.
- The Heptones, on the album Mellow Dubmarine.
- The King's Singers, on the album The Beatles Connection.
- The Punkles did a Punk cover of this song on their fourth album.
- The Offspring, on the album Americana, Why Don't You Get a Job?.
- Youssou N'Dour, on the album 7 Seconds.
- The cast of Life Goes On during the show's opening sequence
- Pato Fu, a Brazilian band, on the album Gol de Quem?.
- Arik Einstein (a version in Hebrew).
- Otto Bredl & Jiggs Whigham, on the album Trombone In Gold.
- An edited cover was performed by the Australian comedy duo the Scared Weird Little Guys with the words completely replaced with morse code.
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
The Beatles version
|Australian Kent Music Report
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|Swiss Singles Chart
|Japanese Oricon Singles Chart
|Japanese Oricon International Chart
|UK Singles Chart
|Austrian Singles Chart
|Norwegian VG-lista Singles Chart
|Swiss Singles Chart