Alan Aldrigde, The Beatles Illustrated Lyrics John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr en George Harrison Alan Aldrigde, The Beatles Illustrated Lyrics (c) Alan Aldrigde, The Beatles Illustrated Lyrics

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Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da

Composer(s) : Lennon and McCartney
Year : 1968

Chords/Tabs: Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da

Notes on "Ob-la-di, Ob-la-da" (OO)

KEY	B Major


FORM	Intro -> Verse -> Refrain -> Verse -> Refrain ->
	    Bridge -> Verse -> Refrain ->
		Bridge -> Verse -> Refrain -> Outro (w/complete ending)


Style and Form

- The charming effect of this upbeat number is nicely enhanced by its apparently spontaneous, come-as-you-are production values. Those characteristic overdubbed Beatlesque details seem much more randomly applied here than usual.

- The form feels on the long side, though if you take in the Verse & Refrain as a single unit, the whole thing reduces down to the so-called shorter two-bridge model; with only one section coming between the bridges.

Melody and Harmony

- The untroubled mood of the lyrics is carried through to the musical fabric, with its comfortably singlable tune, even phrase lengths, and straightforward chord choices.

- Melodically, we find sophisticated compund arches deployed in the verse, balanced activity between chord outlines and stepwise motion in the refrain, and predominating arpeggios in the bridge.

- Only four different chords are used, all of which are common and indigenous to the home key: the old I, IV, V, plus vi.


- The track is predominated by the double-tracked lead, a limping bassline, and some drums. Many other effects, whose particular detailed itenrary I leave for you to trace, come and go:

    - Handclaps and drums, which stagger onto the intro.

    - Backing voices, which appear for the first time in the first refrain.

    - Vocalized noises, such as "chick, chick, chick, chick ...," which appear in the second verse.

    - Backing voices, singing "la-la-la-la" in the second refrain, later followed by more hand claps.

    - Saxophones, added for the bridges in a descending scale obligatto, plus vocalized ("ha ha") laughing, marracas, and a supcon de harpsichord.

    - Conga drums in the third verse, or what sounds like a small remnant of them left over from the discarded alternative version.

    - Saxophones, again, sitting in for the third refrain.

    - A piano glissando, which pressages the second bridge, in which we find still more mysterious mutterings in the background and clearer marracas and harpsichord on the backing track.

    - Piano arpeggios, delicately executed in the final verse.

    - ... and the whole kitchen sink, not to mention a falsetto "thank you," thrown in for good measure in the outro.



- The intro is an unsual 5 measures long; essentially a four-measure vamp heralded by one measure's worth of a fanfare cliche on the jangly piano. Think of the "real" downbeat of the track as being at the start of the second measure:

			 -------------- 2X -------------
	|F#		||B		|-		|

- The piano is immediately joined by the bass. Embellishments to this duo are staggered (as is typical), though much less neatly or strictly patterned than usual; claps start in the middle of the second measure (on the offbeat before "3") and make a dovetail joint with the drums that enter on the offbeat before "2" in the following measure.


- The verse is eight measures long, with four even phrases that create an ABA'B' pattern:

	|B		|F#		|
	 I		 V

	|F#		|B		|
	 V		 I

	|B		|E		|
	 I		 IV

	|B	F#	|B		|
	 I	V	 I

- The harmony of this section is about as simply childlike as could be imagined, establishing the home key clearly and keeping the tonal focus right there.

- The tune is one of those gems whose elegance of design yields instructively to analysis, yet at the same time, you find that the resulting analytical blueprint crumbles in your hands, as it were, if you try to tunesmith from at as though baking bread from a recipe. So, as long as you use it for instructional (medicinal?) purposes, only, here it is:

    - The first phrase has a down-and-back-up-again contour, creating higher-level melodic motion from D# -> C# (i.e. scale steps 3 to 2).

    - The second phrase "answers" the first one by starting a bit higher (on E, step 4), and then coming all the way straight back down the scale (to B, step 1).

    - The third phrase has a contour similar to that of the first phrase, but it starts further up the scale so that the higher- level motion is from F# -> G# (i.e. scale steps 5 to 6).

    - The fourth phrase, like the second one, picks up at top of the range achieved by the previous phrase, and then comes all the way (note quite straight) back down to the bottom of the slide.


- The refrain is also eight measures long with four even phrases but this time the pattern is ((AB) * 2):

	------------------------------ 2X -------------------------------
	|B		|F#	g#	|B	F#	|B		|
	 I		 V      vi       I	V	 I

- The harmony is, again, focused directly on the home key, though the "deceptive cadence" to vi provides some varied respite from tedium, and at the same time sets up the "potential" for exploiting this device in the coda.


- The bridge is, yet again, eight measure long, with an "ABAB'" pattern somewhat similar to that of the verse:

	|E		|-		|

	|B		|-		|
	 I			(V-of-IV)

	|E		|-		|

	|F# 6/4		|5/3		|

- This time, at least, the harmony opens up a bit, with the section opening on IV and ending on a big V build up.


- The outro is an extension of the final refrain, triggered by a repetition of the deceptive cadence heard two measures earlier, and lyrically allowing the song to end with its title phrase:

	|B     |F#  g#  |B   F#  |g#     |-      |F#   B   |
	 I      V   vi   I   V    vi              V    I


- There's a veritable laundry list you could compile of the detailed differences between the official version of this song and the well-known earlier version that was around on bootleg for years and has now appeared for real on Anthology 3.

- And yet, I think the crucial differences between these versions which tip the balance in favor of the official version are the following two, whose common denominator is a matter of how much things are left to chance as opposed to being predictable:

    - The official version's bassline has a characteristic "limp" to it that, in some ways, provides THE hook for the whole song; played as arpeggios in a rhythm that goes "One, two-and, Three, four-and, One ..." The earlier version has more evenly spaced motor beat of even eighth notes with a slight roll leading into the downbeat of each measure.

    - The official version has its finishing details applied in an almost perversely random manner. The earlier version includes virtually all the same details, but they are notably applied in consistent, neat patterns; heck, even the "chick chick chick"s show up in the same place in both bridges!

- The official version rings more truly because even if "life" does seem to routinely "go on" (while you're busy making other plans), there's always got to be something random thrown into the mix, if for no other reason, than to keep you on your toes and remind you that you ARE alive.


Alan (

"'Girl, I like your face.'"                                 080397#133

                Copyright (c) 1995 by Alan W. Pollack
                          All Rights Reserved
This article may be reproduced, retransmitted, redistributed and otherwise propagated at will, provided that this notice remains intact and in place.

Ook op The Beatles [White Album]:

ChordsNotes On
Back in the U.S.S.R. Back in the U.S.S.R.
Dear Prudence Dear Prudence
Glass Onion Glass Onion
Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da
Wild Honey Pie Wild Honey Pie
The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill
While My Guitar Gently Weeps While My Guitar Gently Weeps
Happiness Is a Warm Gun Happiness Is a Warm Gun
Martha My Dear Martha My Dear
I'm So Tired I'm So Tired
Blackbird Blackbird
Piggies Piggies
Rocky Raccoon Rocky Raccoon
Don't Pass Me By Don't Pass Me By
Why Don't We Do It in the Road Why Don't We Do It in the Road
I Will I Will
Julia Julia
Birthday Birthday
Yer Blues Yer Blues
Mother Nature's Son Mother Nature's Son
Everybody's Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey Everybody's Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey
Sexy Sadie Sexy Sadie
Helter Skelter Helter Skelter
Long, Long, Long Long, Long, Long
Revolution 1 Revolution 1
Honey Pie Honey Pie
Savoy Truffle Savoy Truffle
Cry Baby Cry Cry Baby Cry
Can You Take Me Back Can You Take Me Back
Revolution 9 Revolution 9
Good Night Good Night

Ook op Anthology 3:

ChordsNotes On
A Beginning 
Happiness Is A Warm Gun (Kinfauns Home Demo)
Helter Skelter (Edited Take 2)
Mean Mr. Mustard (Kinfauns Home Demo)
Polythene Pam (Kinfauns Home Demo)
Glass Onion (Kinfauns Home Demo)
Junk (Kinfauns Home Demo)
Piggies (Kinfauns Home Demo)
Honey Pie (Kinfauns Home Demo)
Don't Pass Me By (Takes 3 & 5)
Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da
Good Night (Rehearsal & Take 34)
Cry Baby Cry (Take 1)
Blackbird (take 4)
Sexy Sadie (Take 6)
While My Guitar Gently Weeps (Demo)
Hey Jude Hey Jude
Not Guilty (Take 102)
Mother Nature's Son (Take 2)
Glass Onion Glass Onion
Rocky Raccoon (Take 8)
What's The New Mary Jane (Take 4)
Step Inside Love / Los Paranoias 
I'm So Tired (Takes 3, 6 & 9)
I Will (Take 1)
Why Don't We Do It In The Road (Take 4)
Julia (Take 2)
I've Got A Feeling (Savile Row)
She Came In Through The Bathroom Window (Rehearsal) (Savile Row)
Dig A Pony (Savile Row)
Two Of Us (Savile Row)
For You Blue (Savile Row)
Teddy Boy (Savile Row)
Medley: Rip It Up / Shake, Rattle And Roll / Blue Suede Shoes (perkins) (savile Row) 
The Long And Winding Road (Savile Row)
Oh! Darling (Savile Row)
All Things Must Pass (Demo)
Mailman, Bring Me No More Blues (Savile Row)
Get Back (Live at the Rooftop Concert)
Old Brown Shoe (Demo)
Octopus's Garden (Takes 2 & 8)
Maxwell's Silver Hammer (Take 5)
Something (Demo)
Come Together (Take 1)
Come And Get It (Demo)
Ain't She Sweet (Jam)
Because Because
Let It Be (Savile Row)
I Me Mine (Take 16)
The End (Remix)

Ook op 1967-1970:

ChordsNotes On
Strawberry Fields Forever Strawberry Fields Forever
Penny Lane Penny Lane
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
With a Little Help from My Friends With a Little Help from My Friends
Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds
A Day in the Life A Day in the Life
All You Need Is Love All You Need Is Love
I Am the Walrus I Am the Walrus
Hello Goodbye Hello Goodbye
The Fool on the Hill The Fool on the Hill
Magical Mystery Tour Magical Mystery Tour
Lady Madonna Lady Madonna
Hey Jude Hey Jude
Revolution Revolution
Back in the U.S.S.R. Back in the U.S.S.R.
While My Guitar Gently Weeps While My Guitar Gently Weeps
Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da
Get Back Get Back
Don't Let Me Down Don't Let Me Down
The Ballad of John and Yoko The Ballad of John and Yoko
Old Brown Shoe Old Brown Shoe
Here Comes the Sun Here Comes the Sun
Come Together Come Together
Something Something
Octopus's Garden Octopus's Garden
Let It Be Let It Be
Across the Universe Across the Universe
The Long and Winding Road The Long and Winding Road

(c) 2024 Serge Girard