The Beatles song ‘Oh Darling’ features soaring lead vocals from Paul McCartney in which you can hear the passion in every single last note and is truly one of his greatest vocal performances. What makes it an even finer vocal performance all round is the supporting cast of George Harrison and John Lennon who produced some of the most gorgeous backing vocals you’re ever likely to hear, as well as some A+ harmonising with Paul McCartney—an effort which sounds even more beautiful when isolated.
The track originally appeared as the fourth song on the 1969 album Abbey Road and, among all the great hits of the record, as the years have passed it has become one of the bands hidden gems. It manages to encapsulate everything that The Beatles are about in one song, fierce vocals and delicious harmonies all delivered in a beautiful style. Paul McCartney wrote the number and came to the studio early every day for a week to sing it, an attempt to deliberately strain his voice to get the right texture that he desired on the track.
McCartney later admitted, “When we were recording ‘Oh! Darling’ I came into the studios early every day for a week to sing it by myself because at first my voice was too clear. I wanted it to sound as though I’d been performing it on stage all week.”
Even though McCartney wrote the track, that didn’t stop Lennon thinking that it should have been him who had the honour of providing lead vocals on ‘Oh Darling’. He felt that it was more suited towards his style, but since McCartney wrote it he had the final call and he was singing it.
In a 1980 interview with Playboy magazine, John Lennon let rip at Paul’s vocal efforts, stating: “‘Oh! Darling’ was a great one of Paul’s that he didn’t sing too well. I always thought I could have done it better – it was more my style than his. He wrote it, so what the hell, he’s going to sing it.”
The song has remarkably never been performed live ever by any members of The Beatles with Paul McCartney wisely choosing not to ruin his voice by singing the track and it remains a song that is overlooked when it comes to Beatles classics. The isolated version of ‘Oh Darling’ is a true delight which not only includes the raw emotion that Paul McCartney nearly permanently damaged his voice in order to achieve along with near-perfect harmonies with John Lennon and George Harrison which is nothing short of magnificent.