This site covers the original British Beatles Albums plus analyses of the lyrics of non-album tracks.
Information on how the Beatles wrote the lyrics to their songs on The Beatles (white album) can be navigated from below the album cover.
Beatles Album: The Beatles AKA The White Album : Track 4
Lyrics: Lennon, McCartney
The chirpiness of this song straight away identify Ob-la-di Ob-la-da as being one of Paul McCartneys songs. The song is based upon a Nigerian phrase that Paul heard the musician Jimmy Scott use. Ob-la-di Ob-la-da can roughly be translated as Nigerian for 'Life goes on' a lyric that Paul also uses in the song. Jimmy actually plays the congas in one of the recording sessions used by the Beatles.
It is often thought that the song Ob-la-di Ob-la-da was the first time that a white band (well at least a successful one) had used reggae in a song, so the lyrics to the song make it another Beatles song that had broken musical boundaries. Although Paul McCartney was a big fan of the song and wanted to release it as a single, John rightfully hated this sugary sweet song and stopped it being released as a single.
Jimmy Scott always felt that he should receive loyalties for the song, Paul refused as he thought that the phrase Ob-la-di Ob-la-da was common language and Jimmy did not own copyright for him. A few years later Jimmy got in trouble with the law, and so Paul paid his bail on the understanding that Jimmy dropped his claim for a right of the royalties of Ob-la-di Ob-la-da.
In addition to recording with the Beatles, Jimmy Scott also played on the Rolling Stones Beggers Banquet album, and later on had success with the reggae band 'Bad manners'.
John Lennon: Backing Vocals, Maraccas
Paul McCartney: Lead Vocals, Bass guitar, Piano
George Harrison: Backing Vocals, Acoustic guitar
Ringo Starr: Drums