August 26, 2013 • 5:00 pm

To all my friends overseas who are up late, I couldn’t resist slipping in this song, the finale of the Beatles’ White Album. 

It’s a bit lachrymose but I love it. And there’s a wonderful cover by Karen Carpenter.

Notes from Wikipedia:

“Good Night” is the final song by the Beatles on their 1968 album The Beatles (also known as The White Album). It is sung by Ringo Starr, the only Beatle to appear on the song. The music is provided by an orchestra arranged and conducted by George Martin.

John Lennon originally wrote the song as a lullaby for his 5-year-old son Julian.

George Martin’s arrangement is excessively lush, and intentionally so. Lennon is said to have wanted the song to sound “real cheesy”, like a Gordon Jenkins-esque Old Hollywood production number. The musicians play the following instruments: twelve violins, three violas, three cellos, one harp, three flutes, one clarinet, one horn, one vibraphone, and one string bass. The Mike Sammes Singers also took part in the recording, providing backing vocals.

Starr became the third member of the group (after Paul McCartney and George Harrison) to record a song credited to the group without the other members performing (Lennon was the fourth with “Julia”). The song ends with Starr whispering the words: “Good night… Good night, everybody… Everybody, everywhere… Good night.”

The later Beatles were immensely enriched by having Martin as their producer.

15 thoughts on “Goodnight

  1. I’m overseas and it’s nearly lunchtime. “Overseas” covers a lot of territory. But thanks anyway. If I’m up late I sometimes get posts hot off the press, if Jerry is up early.

  2. This song was a night-time hit with some young 9 and 10 year olds at Camp Quest, but they didn’t believe me (at first) when I said it was a Beatles song!!

  3. Perhaps its because I was pondering Frost’s “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” earlier today, but I found this song to be lachrymose only because of what goes on in my head, rather than what was presented. It seems so natural to subconsciously blend the positive literal message — one of warm comforting feelings felt as one drifts off to sleep in a comfy bed — with perhaps a less conscious, but common enough, negativc metaphor that uses falling asleep to connote dying. The lush and haunting orchestration here goes a long way to conjure up Frost’s woods of “easy wind and downy flake” that were so “lovely, dark and deep”. Perhaps this was a mere wonderful synchronicity on my part, but I found the emotional dissonance of mixed messages here to be the real source of emotion. Thanks for the moving moment!

  4. The only supermarket in our village always plays really beautiful Karen Carpenter songs during the weeks before Christmas – a cynical streak in my psyche compels me to point out to all and sundry that this is really a subliminal
    message that, given the cause of K.C.’s death,
    it’s perfectly OK to pig out over the festive season.

  5. “Cheesy” and “a bit overlush”(another Lennon description of the song) though Goodnight may be, it is an undeniably beautiful song…and yet another example that the Beatles could pull off any style, with the considerable assistance from George Martin of course. I don’t know that they would have been able to pull off hip hop though. : )

  6. “George Martin’s arrangement is excessively lush, and intentionally so. Lennon is said to have wanted the song to sound “real cheesy”, like a Gordon Jenkins-esque Old Hollywood production number.”

    Congenially recommend Nat King Cole’s “Stardust,” with instrumental arrangement by Gordon Jenkins, words and music by Mitchell Parrish and “Hoagy” Carmichael.

    An outstanding, if temporary, antidote to the “edginess” of a cacaphonous world.

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