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Music

The Beatles song that caused their engineer to quit

@TylerGolsen

The Beatles had a tight-knit group that rarely wavered during their decade-long recording process. The four members were joined in the studio by George Martin, along with a small number of engineers, including Norman Smith, Glyn Johns, and Ken Scott at different times. But for most of their most iconic work, Geoff Emerick was the man behind the tape machine and faders.

When Smith was promoted to the role of producer in 1966, the 20-year-old Emerick became The Beatles’ new engineer. Emerick’s first album with the band was Revolver, and he remained with them through their most psychedelic phase, including on the albums Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and Magical Mystery Tour. However, by 1968’s The White Album, Emerick began to dislike the tense atmosphere of the studio.

“I lost interest in the White Album because they were really arguing among themselves and swearing at each other,” Emerick recalled in Mark Lewisohn’s The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions. “The expletives were really flying… I said to George [Martin], ‘Look, I’ve had enough. I want to leave. I don’t want to know any more.’ George said, ‘Well, leave at the end of the week’ – I think it was a Monday or Tuesday – but I said, ‘No, I want to leave now, this very minute.’ And that was it.”

That was during the July 16th session when the band were working on John Lennon’s ‘Cry Baby Cry’. According to Lennon, he had come up with the original idea for the song much in the same way that he conceived of ‘Good Morning Good Morning’: through an advertisement.

“I’ve got another one here, a few words, I think I got them from an advert – ‘Cry baby cry, make your mother buy’,” Lennon recalled in Hunter Davies’ 1968 book The Beatles. “I’ve been playing it over on the piano. I’ve let it go now. It’ll come back if I really want it. I do get up from the piano as if I have been in a trance. Sometimes I know I’ve let a few things slip away, which I could have caught if I’d been wanting something.”

Emerick would later return to work as an engineer on the album Abbey Road, for which he won a Grammy for Best Engineered Album. After The Beatles disbanded, Emerick continued to engineer albums for Paul McCartney and Wings, including the LPs Band on the Run and Tug of War.

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