When was it recorded? Aug. 22-23 and Sept. 16 & 29, 1967
When was it first released, and on which album? Dec. 8, 1967 on “Magical Mystery Tour”
Who wrote it? McCartney
Have I heard this song before? No
What my research dug up:
Paul wrote “Your Mother Should Know” at his home in London, apparently inspired by Shelagh Delaney’s 1958 play-turned-film “A Taste of Honey.”
“I wrote it in Cavendish Avenue on the harmonium I have in the dining room there. My Aunty Jin and Uncle Harry and a couple of relatives were staying and they were in the living room just across the hall, so I just went to the dining room and spent a few hours with the door open with them listening. And I suppose because of the family atmosphere ‘Your Mother Should Know’ came in. It’s a very music-hall kind of thing, probably influenced by the fact that my Aunty Jin was in the house.” — Paul McCartney (Barry Miles, Many Years From Now)
Quoth Alan Pollack, “There are many Beatles’ songs that use this relative minor/Major gambit, though our current example bears a particularly interesting comparison with ‘And I Love Her.’ In that earlier song, the gambit lends an anxious, bittersweet ambiguity to the piece. In our current song, the minor mode seems to be used more simply as a foil to make the Major mode feel especially all the more chipper.” Whatever the purpose, it’s an interesting choice for this lyrically straightforward song.
The Beatles began recording “Your Mother Should Know” on Aug. 22, 1967 at the Chappell Recording Studios since Abbey Road was booked solid at the time. They made eight takes of the rhythm track. The next day they added overdubs. Of (sad) note – the Beatles Bible writes the Aug. 23 session “was also Brian Epstein’s last-ever visit to a Beatles recording session; he died on 27 August.”
(… is the United States the only place that writes the date Month/Day/Year? It feels so lopsided that literally every source I look at goes Day/Month/Year, like my brain is fighting that notation even though I know it’s the most widely accepted format. Anyway.)
The Beatles began remaking “Your Mother Should Know” on Sept. 16 (this time at Abbey Road). They recorded 11 rhythm track takes. Take Eight of this version appeared on “Anthology 2.”
However, the Fab Four decided to go back to using the original session’s takes. On Sept. 29, John and Paul overdubbed organ and bass parts and called it good.
According to the Beatles Bible, “It’s likely that the song was briefly considered for the ‘Our World’ satellite broadcast of 25 June 1967. The Beatles went instead with ‘All You Need Is Love,’ a simpler message and one more readily understood by a worldwide audience. But the idea of a big old-fashioned sing-along clearly stayed with McCartney when planning the ‘Magical Mystery Tour’ film.” “Your Mother Should Know” appears in the movie as a lavish, Busby-Berkeley style dance number. Paul dubbed the scene “a good sequence” primarily for “the fact of John dancing, which he did readily.”
The Beatles never played “Your Mother Should Know” live (doy), but even Paul never played it in his own concerts until his Out There Tour, which began last year and ended last week.
… I like it, but it’s pretty slight. I feel like there isn’t much to it that’s interesting apart from the Major/minor key changes. (And boy, did I not realize how much the Beatles used that ‘gambit,’ to cop a phrase from Pollack.) It’s empty calories.