The sessions for The Beatles’ self-titled double album, frequently referred to as The White Album, were chaotic and haphazardly organised. Whereas the band had recorded backing tracks to their songs as a contained unit under the guidance of producer George Martin, the process began to change starting with Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart Club Band. Lineups on a particular song’s session began to fluctuate and fracture, and any given track could feature one, two, or even three band members missing from the final recording.
As such, it became common for members to work in separate studios while recording different tracks simultaneously. One day, McCartney would be finishing overdubs for ‘Martha My Dear’ while George Harrison would be working on the arrangement for ‘Savoy Truffle’. To make matters more spread out, The Beatles began to utilise Trident Studios for the first time due to its advanced technology compared to EMI Studios. That meant that band members could be in one of two different places at any given time when a session was called.
Of the 30 songs included on The White Album, only 16 feature all four members of The Beatles participating in some fashion. So when we go about answering the question “What was the final song recorded for the album?”, there are a few sub-questions to look at as well. What was the final session that all four members participated in? What was the final overdub session? When was the last piece of music recorded for the album?
The last question is fairly easy to answer – the last official day of recording for The White Album was on October 14th, 1968, just over a month before the album’s release. The song completed on that day was ‘Savoy Truffle’, with only Harrison and Martin’s assistant, Chris Thomas, present. Martin made a short appearance during the final mixing, but when his suggestion was met with a curt reply from Harrison, Martin exited. When Harrison and Thomas were satisfied with the overdubbed guitar and final mix, Harrison departed for America and the sessions for The White Album were officially complete.
But that October 14th session was mainly just to clean up an already completed song. What was the last song started and finished for the album? That would be ‘Julia’, which was fully recorded and mixed on October 13th. A John Lennon solo acoustic song, the recording was completed in one night right at the tail end of the sessions, with Martin producing the session.
The last song that all four Beatles worked on and completed is actually a tie between ‘The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill’ and ‘I’m So Tired’, which were recorded, overdubbed, mixed, and completed on the same day, October 8th. It’s not known for certain which song was finished first, so both will have to share the title of being the last complete song that all four Beatles played on for The White Album.