Behind the Meaning of “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da” by the Bealtes

The Beatles‘ “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da” inspires mixed opinions. Even Paul McCartney’s bandmates found it hard to stomach this strange song. John Lennon famously counted this song among what he branded “Granny music.” Despite that, there are sympathizers on the other side of the argument as well. It’s hard to not sing along to this triumphant song.

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If you’ve ever listened to this song and wondered “What is ‘Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da,'” check out the meaning behind this Beatles classic, below.

[RELATED: Ranking the 5 Beatles Albums Tied to Their Movies]

Behind the Meaning

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

McCartney starts this song by introducing two characters, Desmond and Molly. Throughout the song, he winds both of their stories together, singing about the mundanities of life in a way that makes them seem extraordinary. McCartney has always had a knack for storytelling in his songs.

Despite how colorful the characters are, McCartney made them up.

“[George Harrison] said: ‘I don’t know how you write this ‘Ob-la-di, Ob-la-da,’ ‘Molly and Desmond … Do you really know these people?'” McCartney once explained. “I said, ‘No, I just make them up, like a novelist makes characters up.'”

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 (Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha)

To be fair to Lennon, this song is fairly weird. McCartney injects many off-kilter ad-libs and idiosyncrasies. Despite that, McCartney has no trouble getting his point across. This song is wrapped up in the idea that life will continue to trek on, no matter what we as individuals do.

According to McCartney, he got the title from a Jamaican friend of his. “‘Ob-la-di’ came from a guy in a nightclub I used to frequent,” McCartney once explained. “He was a black friend a mine called Jimmy Scott. And I used to just say, ‘What’s happening, Jimmy?'”

“[He would answer], Ob-la-di, ob-la-da, life goes on, bra,” McCartney continued. “And so I just thought, ‘That’s a great saying.'”

Ob-la-di, ob-la-da
Life goes on, brah
La-la, how their life goes on (Heh-heh)
Yeah, ob-la-di, ob-la-da
Life goes on, brah
La-la, how their life goes on

(Photo by Keystone Features/Getty Images)

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