How Paul McCartney played the celery for The Beach Boys

The Beatles 06/04/2020

As two of the biggest rock bands in history, a collaboration between The Beatles and The Beach Boys was always going to happen - but the way it did isn’t what you’d expect at all.  

Sir Paul McCartney is well-known for being able to play a long list of instruments, but when he collaborated with The Beach Boys he was asked to play an instrument that even he had never been asked to play before: celery. Yes, like the vegetable. 

The Beach Boys started out as a doo-wop/pop band, but they soon went down a more experimental track, often trading out tradition instruments for non-instrument sounds. A famous example is their album Pet Sounds featuring the sounds of dogs barking tied into the music. 

Following up Pet Sounds, The Beach Boys moved onto the influential album Smiley Smile, which features the use of vegetables as instruments in the bizarre track ‘Vegetables’. 

Speaking of the origin of the song, Beach Boys member Al Jardin said: “The night before a big tour, I was out in the studio recording the vocal when, to my surprise, Paul McCartney walked in and joined Brian at the console."

And, briefly, the two most influential musical Geminis in the world had a chance to work together.

The Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson had the aim of writing songs for the album representing different classic elements, and the song ‘Vegetables’ was supposed to represent earth. While recording the song, there were a myriad of vegetables in the studio, with the end result of the song prominently featuring the sounds of someone eating. But it wasn’t just anyone chowing down, it was Sir Paul McCartney himself, crunching into some celery. 

In an online interview, McCartney spoke of the day he helped out with the recording: 

“I just went round to the studio because they invited me. I just thought it would be fun to sit there and watch them record, ’cause I’m a big fan. And so I was there, and then it was, I think, Brian who came over and said, ‘Oh Paul, got a favour to ask: would you mind recording something?’” he said. 

Wilson then asked him to munch on some celery in a recording booth, later saying the moment encapsulated how “wild and wacky” that time period was. 

You can listen to the song below, and see if you can pick up the famous crunching.