Song Spotlight: “Ob-la-di, Ob-la-da”

Ob-la-di, Ob-la-da - Song Spotlight |
  • Mood: Cheerful
  • Themes: Family, Mottos
  • Tempo: Medium
  • Genre/Style: 1960s rock

Who hasn’t heard of The Beatles?

This British band got their big break on American soil in February 1964, kicking off the great cultural phenomenon known as the British Invasion, when the rock ‘n roll bands from the UK came to dominate American pop charts. 

“Ob-la-di Ob-la-da” was featured on The Beatles’ 1968 self titled album The Beatles, also known as the “White Album.” Paul McCartney drew inspiration for this song from reggae music and integrated the name of internationally known Jamaican ska and reggae artist Desmond Dekker into the jaunty lyrics. McCartney also found inspiration for the chorus from his acquaintance Jimmy Scott-Emuakpor, a Nigerian congo player, whose family saying was “Obla-di, obla-da life goes on bra.”

You may recognize this simple chorus:

Ob-la-di ob-la-da life goes on bra

Lala how the life goes on

Ob-la-di ob-la-da life goes on bra

Lala how the life goes on

Simple as it is, this chorus is easy to pick up and sing along even if someone is hearing the song for the first time. The song’s upbeat motto can also be handy as a transition into reminiscence on the topic of familial sayings or as an opportunity for group songwriting.

Try This:

Discussion of Family or Mottos – This song would fit well into a family theme or to promote discussion of popular sayings within the group. Encourage the group to reminisce by sharing a family motto or a saying that they value and come up with a group motto. Other complementary 60’s songs may include “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” “I’m a Believer,” and “Mr. Tambourine Man

Songwriting – Print or display the fill in the blank style lyrics. Fill in the name spaces with the names of group members starting with those who volunteer, or encourage them to choose another member’s name. Work as a group to re-write the song then sing your new version together.Gather feedback from the group and make changes as needed.

(Name) has a (type of store) in the marketplace

(Name) is the (verb form of instrument of choice) in a band

(Name)  says to (Name), “Hey,  I like your (anything!)”

And (Name) says this as she takes him by the hand

Ob-la-di ob-la-da life goes on brah

Lala how the life goes on

Ob-la-di Ob-la-da life goes on brah

Lala how the life goes on

Build a personalized songbook – Print out the final draft of the adapted lyrics and add to group songbook as the group writes more songs together.

Movement – Explore some dance moves of the 60s, such as the hitch-hike, the locomotion or the swim. Ask your group members for suggestions using their favorite dances.

What are some of your favorite sayings? What other Beatles tunes do you enjoy? Please leave your comments below!

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