Written by: John Lennon & Paul McCartney
Released: August 5, 1966
Appears on: Revolver
Lead vocal: Ringo
In the town, where I was born
Lived a man, who sailed to sea
And he told us of his life
In the land of submarines...
...Thus starts one of the most fun songs the Beatles ever recorded. Sure its a children's song and Ringo's vocal confirms that, but it's still infectious beyond belief. The song is 44 years old and yet if you listen to it today, you'll still get that chorus stuck in your head for days on end. WE ALL LIVE IN A YELLOW SUBMARINE, A YELLOW SUBMARINE...A YELLOW SUBMARINE!!!!
It was the first time the Beatles had an opportunity to essentially record a party and release it. Singer Marianne Faithful, Stone Brian Jones, roadies Neil Aspinall & Mal Evans, George Martin, engineer Geoff Emerick and George's wife Patti can all be heard contributing backing vocals. Mal also plays the bass drum on the track, augmenting the sparse instrumentation by the Beatles themselves. The only guitar on the track is John's acoustic, with George playing tambourine, Ringo on drums and Paul on bass.
As for the lyrics...well, what is there to say about a story about sailing on a yellow submarine? I guess you could say that there's some universal, philosophical message that we all live on earth, our very own 'yellow submarine'. Paul wrote the song specifically with Ringo in mind and John and Donovan helped polish it. (Donovan supposedly just came up with the line sky of blue, sea of green, which must have been so difficult.)
"Yellow Submarine" and "Eleanor Rigby" were released as a double A-Sided single on the same day as Revolver's release and the single stayed at the #1 position on all the major UK charts for 4 weeks. It was the only Ringo vocal to be released on either side of a single in the UK (in the US, Capitol released several of Ringo's songs as B-Sides).
The song's child-like nature made it a natural choice to be used as a launching point for an animated Beatles movie, which happened in 1969. I'll talk more about that when we get to the songs that premiered in that film. Also, the song has been on several compilations, including A Collection Of Beatles Oldies, the original Yellow Submarine soundtrack, 1962-1966 (where it and "Eleanor Rigby" were the only representatives for Revolver), the UK 20 Greatest Hits, Reel Music, Yellow Submarine Songtrack and 1.
WE ALL LIVE IN A YELLOW SUBMARINE!!!! Sing along! A YELLOW SUBMARINE! A YELLOW SUBMARINE!!!! WE ALL LIVE IN A YELLOW SUBMARINE!!!!...