In his book Here, There and Everywhere, engineer Geoff Emerick recalls that he and producer George Martin were taken aback on June 5th when work began on the number. Ringo's songs were typically last-minute efforts as an album neared completion, but this was just a few days into the new sessions with only Lennon's Revolution 1 in progress at the time. The only other member of the band to appear on the recording is Paul, who played a piano miked through an amplifier and a Leslie speaker thus making it sound like an organ.
Ringo and Paul made a mere three attempts at the basic track before the composer was satisfied, even though each of them lost count of the measures and made mistakes every time. Ringo overdubbed a sleigh bell and Paul a second piano part before Ringo sang his lead vocal. Unhappy with the attempt, it was erased and Paul added two bass lines instead. The following day, these bass parts were wiped and Ringo sang and double-tracked a new lead vocal. Paul then overdubbed a new bass line to complete the day's work.
They did not return to the track until July 12th, at which time a session musician was brought in to provide the distinctive country and western touch that the song required. The arrival of fiddler Jack Fallon was quite a surprise; the Beatles recognized him as an agent who had booked them for one of their earliest appearances in the south of England on March 31st, 1962. The irony, of course, is that Pete Best was still the group's drummer on that occasion, yet Fallon was now present to work on Ringo's song. After his contribution was recorded, Paul overdubbed more bass and Ringo even played a little piano.
The final addition to the track occurred ten days later, on July 22nd, when Paul played an introductory piece for the number. Once again, the piano was miked as on June 5th so that it would match up with the sound on the rest of the track. Only eight seconds of his playing were chosen to be tacked onto the front of the song.*
Don't Pass Me By can be heard in several various ways. The "White Album" was the last to be given a full mono mix, and it is significantly different from the stereo. The mono is slightly faster, thus making Ringo's voice sound rather high, and Jack Fallon's fiddling at the end of the track is entirely different from what is heard on the stereo mix. As the mono album was not released in the US in 1968, this version was included on the American album Rarities in 1980. And the basic track from June 5th is available on Anthology 3 with Ringo's vocal from June 6th (featuring a spoken section edited out of the master), though the song fades out early just before the break in the full recording.
* Also on July 22nd, an orchestra recorded George Martin's arrangement for Ringo's other vocal spotlight on the album, the Lennon composition Good Night. Furthermore, they supposedly recorded an alternate introduction for Don't Pass Me By scored by Martin, though this is clearly heard in the film Yellow Submarine just before the Eleanor Rigby sequence. Given the title A Beginning, this piece is used to open the compilation Anthology 3.