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The Beatles - Yellow Submarine

Updated on December 5, 2013

Yellow Submarine - The Beatles

Released in August of 1966, the song "Yellow Submarine" was recorded by the Beatles as a single and was also released as a track on their "Revolver" album. Two years later the track was used again as the theme song to their 1968 animated United Artists film of the same name.

One of the few Beatles' songs that Ringo is featured as the lead singer, "Yellow Submarine" made it to number 1 on the UK charts (number two on the U.S. charts) and stayed there for four weeks before being replaced by the Small Faces' hit, "All or Nothing."

Table of Contents

What you will find on this lens.

Yellow Submarine Song Facts

Song Writer: Lennon/McCartney (written mainly by McCartney)

Lead Singer: Ringo

Length: 2:38

Recorded: May 26th, 1966 and June 1st, 1966

Studio: Abbey Road Studios

Released: August 5, 1966 (UK) August 8, 1966 (U.S.)

Album: Revolver

Single: B Side - Eleanor Rigby

US Chart: Number 2

UK Chart: August 18th, 1966 Number 1 - 4 weeks

Producer: George Martin

Listen to/Buy Revolver Album

Yellow Submarine Ringtone

Print Yellow Submarine Sheet Music

The Beatles - Yellow Submarine - Personnel

Ringo Starr - vocal, drums

Paul McCartney - backing vocal, shouting, bass

John Lennon - backing vocal, shouting, acoustic guitar

George Harrison - backing vocal, tambourine

Mal Evans - backing vocal, bass drum

George Martin - backing vocal, producer

Geoff Emerick - backing vocal, engineer

Neil Aspinall - backing vocal

Alf Bicknell - sound effects (rattling chains)

Pattie Boyd - backing vocal

Mal Evans - backing vocal

Marianne Faithfull - backing vocal

Brian Jones - backing vocal, sound effects (clinking glasses)

Beatles Yellow Submarine - Song History

Origin and Recording

According to Paul McCartney he came up with the song "Yellow Submarine" while lying in bed thinking about composing a children's song one night in the Summer of 1966. Paul decided that Ringo would sing this song and with that in mind, he intentionally kept the lyrics and melody straightforward.

Many of the effects that can be heard throughout the song were fashioned using inventive ideas with most being implemented by the Beatles themselves. Some of these effects were created as follows:

Water sounds: John blew through a straw into a pan of water creating a bubbling sound.

Submarine Chatter: Paul and John talked through cans.

Ocean Sounds: Terry Condon and John Skinner of Abbey Road Studios swirled chains in a bathtub.

The song was recorded in five takes on May 26th and June 1st of 1966.


"Yellow Submarine" was the Beatles' thirteenth single release in the UK. It took less than 2 weeks for it to become a number one on the UK charts where it stayed for 4 weeks before being replaced by the Small Faces' hit, "All or Nothing."

The song did not fair as well in the United States but still managed to reach number two. Many attribute this to the various Beatles' controversies that were in the public eye at the time, specifically, the appearance of the "Butcher Cover," and John's ill-famed "Bigger Than Jesus" comment.


There are a few differences between the stereo and mono mixes of the song. Most notably is the reiteration of lines in the last verse by John starts a bit earlier in stereo than the original mono.

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The Beatles - Yellow Submarine Trivia Facts

  • As with many of the Beatles' songs fans' have tried to decipher "Yellow Submarine" for some possible hidden meaning. One possible interpretation that has come up often is that the song is about themselves:

    Submarine - The Beatles were often confined to hotel rooms and had to "live under a lot of pressure."

    Yellow - They were having a great time with their "friends all aboard."

    Sea of Green - Money.

  • According to some sources, McCartney dropped by Donovan's place (his neighbour at the time) and asked him for suggestions on how he might close the tune. In response, Donovan came up with the lyrics "Sky of blue, sea of green." If this is true no credit was given to Donovan.
  • The sound of bubbles on the track were created by John Lennon who blew bubbles through a straw into a pail of water.
  • The original takes of "Yellow Submarine" included a spoken intro by Ringo.
  • The vocals were slightly sped-up during mixing to make the song sound a little more unusual.
  • George Harrison swirled water in a bucket to create the water sounds on the track.
  • Some people felt this song had hidden meanings in reference to drugs. Steve Turner says in his book "A Hard Day's Write" that shortly after the song was released, there were barbiturate capsules called "yellow submarines" being used by the hippie culture.When asked, McCartney denied any association to drugs and said the only submarine he knew of was a sugary sweet he came across in Greece while on holiday.
  • For the "Yellow Submarine" movie, actors were used to voice the Beatles' lines.

The Beatles - Yellow Submarine Videos

Beatles Quotes

What the Beatles had to say about the song Yellow Submarine.

PAUL: "I was laying in bed in the Asher's garret, and there's a nice twilight zone just as you're drifting into sleep and as you wake from it-- I always find it quite a comfortable zone. I remember thinking that a children's song would be quite a good idea... I was thinking of it as a song for Ringo, which it eventually turned out to be, so I wrote it as not too rangey [sic] in the vocal. I just made up a little tune in my head, then started making a story-- sort of an ancient mariner, telling the young kids where he'd lived. It was pretty much my song as I recall... I think John helped out. The lyrics got more and more obscure as it goes on, but the chorus, melody and verses are mine."

JOHN: "'Yellow Submarine' is Paul's baby. Donovan helped with the lyrics. I helped with the lyrics too. We virtually made the track come alive in the studio, but based on Paul's inspiration. Paul's idea. Paul's title... written for Ringo."

GEORGE: "Paul came up with the concept of 'Yellow Submarine.' All I know is just that every time we'd all get around the piano with guitars and start listening to it and arranging it into a record, we'd all fool about. As I said, John's doing the voice that sounds like someone talking down a tube or ship's funnel as they do in the merchant marine. (laughs) And on the final track there's actually that very small party happening! As I seem to remember, there's a few screams and what sounds like small crowd noises in the background."

Beatles - Revolver Facts

Released: August 5th, 1966 (UK) August 8th, 1966 (U.S.)

Recorded: Abbey Road Studios

Length: 35:01 (UK) 28:20 (U.S.)

Label: Parlophone, Capitol, EMI

Producer: George Martin

Track Listing

All songs by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, except where noted.


Side one

"Taxman" (Harrison) - 2:39

"Eleanor Rigby" - 2:07

"I'm Only Sleeping" - 3:01

"Love You To" (Harrison) - 3:01

"Here, There and Everywhere" - 2:25

"Yellow Submarine" - 2:40

"She Said She Said" - 2:37

Side two

"Good Day Sunshine" - 2:09

"And Your Bird Can Sing" - 2:01

"For No One" - 2:01

"Doctor Robert" - 2:15

"I Want to Tell You" (Harrison) - 2:29

"Got to Get You into My Life" - 2:30

"Tomorrow Never Knows" - 2:57


Side one

"Taxman" (Harrison) - 2:39

"Eleanor Rigby" - 2:07

"Love You To" (Harrison) - 3:01

"Here, There and Everywhere" - 2:25

"Yellow Submarine" - 2:40

"She Said She Said" - 2:37

Side two

"Good Day Sunshine" - 2:09

"For No One" - 2:01

"I Want to Tell You" (Harrison) - 2:29

"Got to Get You into My Life" - 2:30

"Tomorrow Never Knows" - 2:57

Listen to/Buy Revolver Album

Yellow Submarine Ringtone

Print Yellow Submarine Sheet Music

Yellow Submarine Cover Videos

If you are a Beatles fan, this is a must have! Starting from the very beginning, all the way to the present. Interviews with Paul, George and Ringo (and footage of interviews with John), it really gives a personal point of view to go along with photos, images and footage of the fab four.

Yellow Submarine Guitar and Piano Instruction Videos - Learn how to play Yellow Submarine on Guitar or Piano!

Trivia Links

Trivia sites and other useful resources for the Beatles or trivia fan.

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Yellow Submarine Guestbook - Let me know your thoughts about the song Yellow Submarine and/or the Beatles

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    • Tay Henry profile image

      Tay Henry 4 years ago

      I love this song!

    • compugraphd profile image

      compugraphd 5 years ago


      Hmm -- I guess I'm not the only person who thought of this for the Rainbow Quest for the color Yellow. I always loved this song -- the sound affects, Ringo on vocals (I always seem to like the drummers!) and just the images it conjures up. I never did see the movie all the way through......

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 5 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      I used to love that song and sure enjoyed learning more about the Beatles and Yellow Submarine. Thanks for helping me to complete my Rainbow Quest for the day with the color Yellow!

    • FantasticVoyages profile image

      Fantastic Voyages 5 years ago from Texas

      A great album, and great song!

    • Chocolatealchemy profile image

      Chocolatealchemy 5 years ago from London, United Kingdom

      What a great Lens, loved all the bits of info you've shared and of course .. I love the song!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I remember when Yellow Submarine came out. I enjoyed it then and still do. Great song!

    • NightMagic profile image

      NightMagic 5 years ago

      What an awesome lens. I especially enjoyed the Trivia Facts. Most of them I didn't know. The Beatles are still my all time favorite.

    • profile image

      sojourner-1 5 years ago

      It is always interesting to read about the "extra" things that happened to make the album.

    • suzy-t profile image

      suzy-t 5 years ago

      One of my favorite albums...

    • Ben Reed profile image

      Ben Reed 5 years ago from Redcar

      It was one of those songs from my childhood - a classic and timeless song.

    • emmakeynes profile image

      emmakeynes 5 years ago

      Great lens!

    • gypsykitschpres profile image

      gypsykitschpres 6 years ago

      Another Favorite. Love those Beatles. Thanks for this great lens.

    • TonyPayne profile image

      Tony Payne 6 years ago from Southampton, UK

      Excellent lens about a strange song that I loved growing up. This is a Beatles classic! Blessed.

    • danzuc76 profile image

      danzuc76 6 years ago

      Neat lens, The Beatles are timeless. Angel blessing.

    • fionajean profile image

      Fiona 6 years ago from South Africa

      Great lens - blessed

    • profile image

      PhillipConte 6 years ago

      I lkie this lens as I like this song. It has a simple attraction that young kids love. They did things to please everyone

    • Lemming13 profile image

      Lemming13 7 years ago

      I used to live on Merseyside, and one of my favourite parts of the Beatles Experience Museum was the mockup yellow submarine - brought back such happy memories of being a small child in the 60s and singing that song on EVERY school trip. I just wish they'd put the film out on blu ray; it would be amazing. Love this lens.

    • Sami4u LM profile image

      Sami4u LM 7 years ago


      This is the one Beatles song I know the words to. We all live in a Yellow Submarine right :)

    • Sami4u LM profile image

      Sami4u LM 7 years ago


      This is the one Beatles song I know the words to. We all live in a Yellow Submarine right :)

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      Yellow Submarine is definitely not my fav Beatles song, but it was very unusual when it was released and showed the fun side of the band. This is a very well researched lens.

    • profile image

      poutine 7 years ago

      Funny that I came upon your lens on Yellow Submarine today as my husband

      got up signing that very song.

    • Aquavel profile image

      Aquavel 9 years ago

      Nicely made lens! Well research with great content! 5 stars!

    • Mia-Breitfuss profile image

      Mia-Breitfuss 9 years ago

      I love this lens - 5 stars! I remember my Dad playing this song to me from the vinyl record and my sister and I would sing along. Now my daughter and I love to sing this song together.

    • Barkely profile image

      Barkely 9 years ago

      I love the Yellow Submarine, you can't help but sing along when it's playing!

    • profile image

      animal_lover79 9 years ago

      Your hard work has paid off with this lens. It is clear that much time and effort was devoted to crafting and refining this lens to properly showcase the song. Five stars!!

    • RuthCoffee profile image

      Ruth Coffee 9 years ago from Zionsville, Indiana

      A very interesting read for fans; another great lens!

    • profile image

      rockycha 9 years ago

      Outstanding Content High Fives! Love the Blue Meanies! (remind me of my grampa ;) ...)