Only a Northern Song
- George Harrison – vocal, organ, effects, noise
- John Lennon – piano, glockenspiel, effects, noise
- Paul McCartney – bass guitar, trumpet, effects, noise
- Ringo Starr – drums
Only a Northern Song is a George Harrison composition, written and performed during the Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band recording sessions. It was not included in that album, but rather, it was released in 1968, first in the Yellow Submarine animated film, and then on the Yellow Submarine Songtrack album, the latter being the first release of the song in true stereo.
Recording took place on February 13, 1967 with the basic track. Overdubs were added the next day and also on April 20. Uniquely, the recording used two four-track recorders to capture a complex instrumentation, which included Paul on a distorted trumpet, John on glockenspiel and George on a reverberated organ. The two machines were hard to synchronize, and as a result, the engineers had to use the mono recordings to create a false stereo effect in lieu of a proper stereo mix. The rhythm track with some edits from the April 20 session, and a slightly different vocal track, is part of the Anthology 2 collection.
Harrison's lyric is a quiet but clear rant against the Beatles' publishing policies. His "mere" Northern Song was owned by "Northern Songs, Ltd." Unlike Paul and John, who each owned 15% of this public company, and unlike Dick James, the majority shareholder whom George grew to dislike, Harrison held less than a 1% stake in Northern Songs, Ltd. He was simply a contract songwriter for the enterprise. He said that the contract Dick James offered him was "blatant theft." Thus, Lennon and McCartney together would receive 30 times the benefit that George did from his own compositions. This embittered him, and this song is a musical editorial on the subject: "It doesn't really matter what chords I play, what words I say or time of day it is, as it's only a Northern Song." The chords, timing and key changes are dissonant, uneven and sudden, reflecting the attitude expressed in the lyrics.