Song Lyric Sunday – “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da”

Song Lyric Sunday is hosted every week by Jim Adams. This Sunday he has prompted us with just the two letters “La”. It could be La-Dee-Da, or perhaps LA for Los Angeles or even La for Louisiana. Perhaps even Ooo-la-la and that song comes to mind. I have chosen to go with Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da by the Beatles from the 1968 White Album. It is a fun song and caused a bit of a stir in the 60s as they used the word “Bra” in the song! Well it did help with the rhyming!

It was written by Paul McCartney and credited to the Lennonโ€“McCartney partnership. Following the album’s release, the song was issued as a single in many countries, although not in Britain or America, and topped singles charts in Australia, Japan, New Zealand, Switzerland and West Germany. When belatedly issued as a single in the United States in 1976, it peaked at number 49 on the Billboard Hot 100.

McCartney wrote “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da” in the Jamaican ska style and appropriated a phrase popularized by Jimmy Scott, a London-based Nigerian musician, for the song’s title and chorus. Following its release, Scott attempted, unsuccessfully, to receive a composing credit. The recording sessions for the track were marked by disharmony as McCartney’s perfectionism tested his bandmates and their recording staff. The song was especially disliked by John Lennon and a heated argument during one of the sessions led to Geoff Emerick quitting his job as the Beatles’ recording engineer. A discarded early version of the track, featuring Scott on congas, was included on the band’s 1996 compilation Anthology 3.

The Beatles’ decision not to release the single in the UK or the US led to several cover recordings as other artists sought to achieve a chart hit with the song. Of these, Marmalade became the first Scottish group to have a number 1 hit in the UK when their version topped the Record Retailer chart in late 1968. Despite the song’s popularity, “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da” has been ridiculed by some commentators for its lightheartedness. From 2009, McCartney has regularly performed the song in concert.

Paul McCartney began writing “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da” during the Beatles’ stay in Rishikesh, India, in early 1968. Prudence Farrow, one of their fellow Transcendental Meditation students there, recalled McCartney, John Lennon and George Harrison playing it to her in an attempt to lure her out of her room, where she had become immersed in intense meditation.

McCartney wrote the song when reggae was becoming popular in Britain; author Ian MacDonald describes it as “McCartney’s rather approximate tribute to the Jamaican ska idiom”. The character of Desmond in the lyrics, from the opening line “Desmond has a barrow in the market-place”, was a reference to reggae singer Desmond Dekker, who had recently toured the UK. The tag line “Ob-la-di, ob-la-da, life goes on, bra” was an expression used by the aforementioned Jimmy Scott-Emuakpor. According to Scott’s widow, as part of his stage act with his band Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da, Scott would call out “Ob la di”, to which the audience would respond “Ob la da”, and he would then conclude: “Life goes on.” 

Lyrics

Desmond has a barrow in the marketplace
Molly is the singer in a band
Desmond says to Molly, girl, I like your face
And Molly says this as she takes him by the hand

Ob la di, ob-la-da, life goes on, bra
La-la, how the life goes on
Ob-la di, ob-la-da, life goes on, bra
La-la, how the life goes on

Desmond takes a trolley to the jeweller's store
Buys a twenty carat golden ring
Takes it back to Molly waiting at the door
And as he gives it to her she begins to sing

Ob la di, ob-la-da, life goes on, bra
La-la, how the life goes on
Ob-la di, ob-la-da, life goes on, bra
La-la, how the life goes on

In a couple of years they have built
A home sweet home
With a couple of kids running in the yard
Of Desmond and Molly Jones

Happy ever after in the market place
Desmond lets the children lend a hand
Molly stays at home and does her pretty face
And in the evening she still sings it with the band

Ob la di, ob-la-da, life goes on, bra
La-la, how the life goes on
Ob-la di, ob-la-da, life goes on, bra
La-la, how the life goes on

In a couple of years they have built
A home sweet home
With a couple of kids running in the yard
Of Desmond and Molly Jones

Happy ever after in the market place
Molly lets the children lend a hand
Desmond stays at home and does his pretty face
And in the evening she's a singer with the band

Ob la di, ob-la-da, life goes on, bra
La-la, how the life goes on
Ob-la di, ob-la-da, life goes on, bra
La-la, how the life goes on

And if you want some fun, sing ob-la-di, bla-da

Writer/s: John Lennon, Paul McCartney 
Publisher: Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC
Lyrics licensed and provided by LyricFind


Backstory provided by Wiki

  39 comments for “Song Lyric Sunday – “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da”

  1. January 5, 2020 at 12:14 am

    I love it! Great choice, Christine! Now I can’t get it out my head! LOL! ๐Ÿ˜€

    • Christine Bolton
      January 5, 2020 at 7:59 am

      Thanks Felicia! It is fun. Did you see the recent movie, Yesterday? That was so good. Funny and lighthearted and packed with Beatles songs, including this one ๐Ÿ™‚๐Ÿ‘

      • January 5, 2020 at 8:53 am

        No, totally missed that! ๐Ÿ˜ณ Will have to find it…thanks! ๐Ÿ‘

      • Christine Bolton
        January 5, 2020 at 12:14 pm

        You can rent it on Amazon now. Such a funny story/love story. I enjoyed it a lot ๐Ÿ™‚

      • January 5, 2020 at 1:14 pm

        YAAY! Thanks for the heads-up! ๐Ÿ‘

  2. January 5, 2020 at 12:29 am

    Perfect song for the prompt. The White Album is a masterpiece and this song is so much fun.

    • Christine Bolton
      January 5, 2020 at 8:00 am

      Thanks Lisa. It just jumped into my head! ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. January 5, 2020 at 12:35 am

    Love this one! ๐ŸŽถ

    • Christine Bolton
      January 5, 2020 at 8:01 am

      Yes, such a happy song ๐Ÿ™‚

      • January 5, 2020 at 2:57 pm

        Yes! โค๏ธโœจ

  4. January 5, 2020 at 12:38 am

    The Beatles are always a great choice, i love this one….. xx

    • Christine Bolton
      January 5, 2020 at 8:03 am

      It just makes you smile I or ๐Ÿ™‚๐Ÿ’•

  5. January 5, 2020 at 2:36 am

    Ooh, I wish Iโ€™d have thought of this song. Great choice!

    • Christine Bolton
      January 5, 2020 at 8:02 am

      Thanks! ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. January 5, 2020 at 8:37 am

    Great back story and perfect selection for this week.

    • Christine Bolton
      January 5, 2020 at 12:14 pm

      Thanks Maggie ๐Ÿ™‚ I appreciate it.

  7. January 5, 2020 at 9:33 am

    Christine you always do such a great job explaining the songs that you choose, but today you outdid yourself, as this is a fantastic write-up and I learned so much about this song today. Great choice for la.

    • Christine Bolton
      January 5, 2020 at 12:13 pm

      Thanks so much Jim. I learned some things too. I did not know the other Beatles disliked it. Paul did write some quirky songs along with some of the most romantic ones ever. His father was a Vaudeville entertainer and thatโ€™s probably where he got some of his funny ones from. This one however was so reminiscent of London, in particular, at that time in the 60s. Sky and Blubeat music was popular with so many migrating from the Caribbean to London. It was a fun time. ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. January 5, 2020 at 9:37 am

    Perfect pick for this prompt! Reminds me of the TV show aptly titled โ€œLife Goes Onโ€ They used it for their theme.

    • Christine Bolton
      January 5, 2020 at 12:08 pm

      Oh I donโ€™t know that show! Thanks so much Jilly ๐Ÿ™‚

      • January 5, 2020 at 1:10 pm

        Used to air Sunday evenings. Didnโ€™t last too long. Patty LuPone was the mom. From what I recall it was good. Pushed the envelope at the time.

      • Christine Bolton
        January 6, 2020 at 8:23 am

        I missed it ๐Ÿ˜‘ Thanks Jilly

  9. January 5, 2020 at 10:03 am

    Perfect song choice today Christine. Love the Beatles!

    • Christine Bolton
      January 5, 2020 at 12:07 pm

      Thanks Lisa. Iโ€™ve always loved it. Watching the movie Yesterday was a lot of fun and of course this one was featured ๐Ÿ™‚๐Ÿ’•

      • January 5, 2020 at 3:32 pm

        Great timing then! ๐Ÿ˜

  10. January 5, 2020 at 10:34 am

    Such a fun song! โค๏ธ

    • Christine Bolton
      January 5, 2020 at 12:06 pm

      Hello my friend. How are you? Yes, a wonderful happy song โ˜บ๏ธ

      • January 5, 2020 at 2:46 pm

        Hi Christine! Yes, a wonderful song.
        I am fine, my dear. Thanks for asking. Should be back to active blogging in a couple of days. ๐Ÿ˜Š

      • Christine Bolton
        January 6, 2020 at 8:24 am

        Wonderful. I’ve missed you and your lovely poetry ๐Ÿ™‚๐Ÿ’•

      • January 10, 2020 at 10:17 pm

        โ˜บ๏ธโค๏ธ

  11. January 5, 2020 at 10:59 am

    Excellent choice for the prompt! I love this song and it will be in my head all day! ๐Ÿ˜

    • Christine Bolton
      January 5, 2020 at 12:05 pm

      Yes! Iโ€™ve been singing it for days ๐Ÿคฃ

      • January 5, 2020 at 7:22 pm

        ๐Ÿคช

  12. January 5, 2020 at 11:13 am

    I remember Marmalade’s version more, but knew it was a McCartney song. Good choice

    • Christine Bolton
      January 5, 2020 at 12:05 pm

      Thanks Di. Itโ€™s a fun song!

  13. January 6, 2020 at 6:48 am

    A fun song and a great choice!

    • Christine Bolton
      January 6, 2020 at 8:25 am

      Thank you Violet ๐Ÿ™‚

  14. January 11, 2020 at 2:17 pm

    I always liked this song! Fun to hear it again, and to read about it. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Christine Bolton
      January 13, 2020 at 9:28 am

      Thanks. I agree, so much fun ๐Ÿ™‚

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