When was it recorded? May 6; Jul. 1, 15, 30 & 31; and Aug. 5, 1969
When was it first released, and on which album? Sept. 26, 1969 on “Abbey Road”
Who wrote it? McCartney
Have I heard this song before? Oh yeah
What my research dug up:
“’Funny paper’ – that’s what we get. We get bits of paper saying how much is earned and what this is and that is, but we never actually get it in pounds, shilling, and pence. We’ve all got a big house and a car and an office, but to actually get the money we’ve earned seems impossible.” — George Harrison (Anthology)
Paul started writing “You Never Give Me Your Money” while staying with Linda in New York after wrapping the dismal Get Back sessions. Composed of three separate song fragments, the first part according to Paul “was me directly lambasting [American businessman] Allen Klein’s attitude to us: no money, just funny paper, all promises and it never works out. It’s basically a song about no faith in the person” (Barry Miles, Many Years From Now).
According to Wikipedia, at the time, “John Lennon and McCartney were at risk of losing overall control of Northern Songs, the company that published their songs, after ATV Music bought a majority share. McCartney had been largely responsible for the group’s direction and projects since the death of manager Brian Epstein in 1967, but began to realize that the group dynamic of the Beatles was coming to an end. He was particularly unhappy at the others wanting to draft in manager Allen Klein to help sort out their finances.”
On a brighter note, the second and third song fragments (“one sweet dream,” etc.) were inspired by Paul’s nostalgia for the Beatles’ early days and country travels with Linda (which I discussed on Day 251: “Two of Us”).
Alan Pollack compared “You Never Give Me Your Money” to John’s White Album offering “Happiness is a Warm Gun” (Day 82). Similarly, Pollack noted, “As with all but the final section of “… Warm Gun”, you find that while each of the sections here suggests the potential for complete development into a song that can stand on its own, each is presented for now in a fragmentary manner where they rely heavily on the immediate repetition of a single idea to establish any sense of formal autonomy.”
Upfront: I love this song. I think a large reason why I love it is because it ties into so many “Abbey Road” songs. To paraphrase Ian MacDonald’s comparisons:
- The arpeggios at the end were influenced by “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” (Day 113)
- The middle section was inspired by “Here Comes the Sun” (Day 89)
- The closing tape loops segue into “Sun King” (Day 226)
- The ending guitar motifs are repeated between “Carry That Weight” (Day 38) and “The End” (Day 60) in the album’s closing medley
The Beatles recorded 36 takes of the rhythm track on May 6, 1969 at the Olympic Sound Studios instead of their usual Abbey Road. According to Wikipedia, “Recording started at 3pm and went on until 4am the next morning.” Oof. Take 30 was deemed the best, and Paul overdubbed lead vocals onto it on Jul. 1. More overdubs were made on Jul. 15 before a reduction mix was made on Jul. 30 so more overdubs could be made the next day. They hadn’t quite figured out how they wanted the song to end yet…
On Aug. 5, Paul added tape loops of bells, birds, bubbles, and crickets. George Martin decided on a crossfade into “Sun King” at the end while mixing on Aug. 13 and 21.