2009 Mono / Stereo Remaster
101. Back In The U.S.S.R.
102. Dear Prudence
103. Glass Onion
104. Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da
105. Wild Honey Pie
106. The Continuing Story Of Bungalow Bill
107. While My Guitar Gently Weeps
108. Happiness Is A Warm Gun
109. Martha, My Dear
110. I'm So Tired
113. Rocky Raccoon
114. Don't Pass Me By
115. Why Don't We Do It In The Road
116. I Will
202. Yer Blues
203. Mother Nature's Son
204. Everybody's Got Something To Hide Except Me And My Monkey
205. Sexy Sadie
206. Helter Skelter
207. Long, Long, Long
209. Honey Pie
210. Savoy Truffle
211. Cry, Baby, Cry
212. Revolution 9
213. Good Night
Purple Chick Deluxe Edition:
Disks 1 & 2 1968 Stereo
01. Hey Jude
The Beatles Record 1
03. Back In The U.S.S.R.
04. Dear Prudence
05. Glass Onion
06. Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da
07. Wild Honey Pie
08. The Continuing Story Of Bungalow Bill
09. While My Guitar Gently Weeps
10. Happiness Is A Warm Gun
11. Martha, My Dear
12. I'm So Tired
15. Rocky Raccoon
16. Don't Pass Me By
17. Why Don't We Do It In The Road
18. I Will
20. Not Guilty
21. What’s The New Mary Jane
22. Sour Milk Sea (outfake)
The Beatles Record 2
02. Yer Blues
03. Mother Nature's Son
04. Everybody's Got Something To Hide Except Me And My Monkey
05. Sexy Sadie
06. Helter Skelter
07. Long, Long, Long
08. Revolution 1
09. Honey Pie
10. Savoy Truffle
11. Cry, Baby, Cry
12. Revolution 9
13. Good Night
14. While My Guitar Gently Weeps (demo)
15. Revolution (Love - complete)
16. Back in the USSR (Love - complete)
17. Revolution (Past Masters)
Disks 3 & 4 1968 Mono
01. Hey Jude
The Beatles Record 1
03. Back In The U.S.S.R.
04. Dear Prudence
05. Glass Onion
06. Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da
07. Wild Honey Pie
08. The Continuing Story Of Bungalow Bill
09. While My Guitar Gently Weeps
10. Happiness Is A Warm Gun
11. Martha, My Dear
12. I'm So Tired
15. Rocky Raccoon
16. Don't Pass Me By
17. Why Don't We Do It In The Road
18. I Will
20. Not Guilty
21. What’s The New Mary Jane
22. Sour Milk Sea (outfake)
The Beatles Record 2
02. Yer Blues
03. Mother Nature's Son
04. Everybody's Got Something To Hide Except Me And My Monkey
05. Sexy Sadie
06. Helter Skelter
07. Long, Long, Long
08. Revolution 1
09. Honey Pie
10. Savoy Truffle
11. Cry, Baby, Cry
12. Revolution 9
13. Good Night
14. While My Guitar Gently Weeps (demo)
15. Don't Pass Me By (original speed)
Disc 5 - Demos
03. Rocky Raccoon
04. Back In The U.S.S.R.
05. Honey Pie
06. Mother Nature's Son
07. Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da
09. Dear Prudence
10. Sexy Sadie
11. Cry Baby Cry
12. Child Of Nature
13. The Continuing Story Of Bungalow Bill
14. I'm So Tired
15. Yer Blues
16. Everybody's Got Something To Hide Except Me And My Monkey
17. What's The New Mary Jane
19. While My Guitar Gently Weeps
21. Sour Milk Sea
22. Not Guilty
24. Happiness Is A Warm Gun
25. Mean Mr. Mustard
26. Polythene Pam
27. Glass Onion
28. Junk (anthology mix)
29. Honey Pie (anthology mix)
Disc 6 - Sessions
01. Revolution - take 20
02. Don't Pass Me By - take 3
03. Don't Pass Me By - takes 3+5
04. Blackbird / Congratulations - a
05. Blackbird - b
06. Blackbird - c
07. Helter Skelter / Blackbird / Gone Tomorrow Here Today - d
08. Blackbird - e
10. Blackbird - r
11. Blackbird - g
12. Blackbird - h
13. Blackbird/Mother Natures Son - i
14. Blackbird - j
15. Blackbird - k
16. Blackbird - l
17. Blackbird - m
18. Blackbird - n
19. Blackbird - o
20. Blackbird - p
21. Blackbird - q
22. Blackbird - r
25. Blackbird - s
26. Blackbird take 4 (Ant 3)
27. Blackbird - take unknown
28. Blackbird - take 32 RM6
29. Good Night - rehearsal
30. Good Night - unknown take
31. Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da - take 5
32. Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da - take 21
33. Revolution - take 15
34. Don't Pass Me By - take 7 RM4
35. Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da - take 23 RM21
36. Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da-ish - studio chat
Disc 7 - Sessions
01. Cry Baby Cry - take 1
02. Helter Skelter - take 2
03. Sexy Sadie - take 6
04. Sexy Sadie - take unknown + chat
05. Fuck A Duckie
06. Sexy Sadie - take unknown
07. Brian Epstein's Blues
08. Sexy Sadie - take unknown
09. Sexy Sadie - take unknown
10. Sexy Sadie - take unknown
11. Good Night - take 34 RM6
12. Everybody's Got Something To Hide Except Me And My Monkey - take 12 RM5
13. Sexy Sadie - take 28
14. While My Guitar Gently Weeps - take 1
15. While My Guitar Gently Weeps - take 1 + overdub
16. When I Was A Robber
17. Hey Jude - take 2
18. Hey Jude - rehearsal a
19. St Louis Blues - a
20. Hey Jude - rehearsal b
21. Hey Jude - take unknown
22. Hey Jude - take 7
23. Las Vegas Tune
24. St Louis Blues - b
25. St Louis Blues - c
26. Hey Jude - rehearsal c
27. Hey Jude - take 8
29. Hey Jude - take 9
29. Hey Jude - take ??
30. Hey Jude-ish studio chat
31. Mother Nature's Son - take 2
32. Mother Nature's Son - take unknown
33. Not Guilty - take 102
34. Jam (Down In Havana)
35. What's The New Mary Jane - take 2
36. Rocky Raccoon - take 8
37. Rocky Raccoon - take 9
38. Rocky Raccoon - RM1
39. Yer Blues - RM3
Disc 8 - Sessions
01. Mother Nature's Son - RM8
02. Wild Honey Pie - RM6
03. Sexy Sadie RM5 unedited
04. Back In The U.S.S.R. - RM1
05. Dear Prudence - backing vocal fragment
06. Dear Prudence - take 1 - mix a
07. Dear Prudence - take 1 - mix b
08. While My Guitar Gently Weeps - studio chat
09. Lady Madonna - rehearsal
10. While My Guitar Gently Weeps - rehearsal
11. Helter Skelter - vocal fragment
12. Helter Skelter - take 21 RM1
13. I Will - take 1
14. I Will - take 1
15. Can You Take Me Back - take 19
16. Down In Havana - I Will take 30
17. Step Inside Love - I Will take 34
18. Los Paranoias - I Will take 35
19. The Way You Look Tonight - I Will take 36
20. Birthday - RM1
21. Piggies - take unknown
22. Piggies - unused overdub
23. Happiness Is A Warm Gun - overdub track
24. Happiness Is A Warm Gun - stereo with overdub track
25. Glass Onion - take 33 RM2
26. I'm So Tired - takes 3+6+9
27. I'm So Tired - take 14
28. I'm So Tired - a
29. I'm So Tired - ?
30. Why Don't We Do It In The Road? - take 4
31. Why Don't We Do It In The Road? - take 4+5
32. Julia - take 2 (
33. Julia - take 3 (
34. How Do You Do
36. The Unicorn
39. Mr Wind
40. The Walrus And The Carpenter
41. Land Of Gisch
Disc 9 - The Beatles Go to Far
Revolution 1: (June 4, 1968)
01. take 20 playback
02. take 20 playback
07. take 20 overdub
08. take 20 playback
09. take 20 playback
15. take 20 playback
16. take 20 playback
17. take 20 playback/overdub
18. take 20 playback
19. take 20 playback
20. take 20 playback
25. take 20 playback
29. take 20 playback
30. take 20 playback
32. dialogue/tape loop
33. tape loop
June 20, 1968
36. Revolution 9
Disc 10 - The Beatles Go To Far
June 20, 1968
01. What's The New Mary Jane - RS4
02. What's The New Mary Jane - RS5
03. What's The New Mary Jane - RS6
04. What's The New Mary Jane
05. What's The New Mary Jane
06. I'm So Tired b
07. I'm So Tired c
08. I'm So Tired d
09. I'm So Tired e
10. I'm So Tired f
11. I'm So Tired g
12. While My Guitar Gently Weeps a
13. While My Guitar Gently Weeps b
14. While My Guitar Gently Weeps c
15. While My Guitar Gently Weeps d
16. Don't Pass Me By - take 3
17. Goodnight - unknown take
18. Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da
19. Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da - take 21
20. Sexy Sadie - unknown take + chat
21. Good Night
22. Sexy Sadie - take 28
23. While My Guitar Gently Weeps
24. While My Guitar Gently Weeps - take 1 harmonium
25. Hey Jude - take 7
26. Hey Jude - take 7a (chat)
27. Hey Jude - take 7b St Louis Blues
28. Hey Jude - take 9 partial
29. Hey Jude - take 9
30. Mother Nature's Son - take unknown
31. Not Guilty
32. What's The New Mary Jane - take 2
33. Rocky Raccoon - take 9
34. I Will - take 1
35. Step Inside Love-Los Paranoias
36. Piggies - unknown take
37. I'm So Tired - take 14
38. Why Don't We Do It In The Road
39. Julia - take 3 partial
40. While My Guitar Gently Weeps orchestra session
Disc 11 - Whitecasts
01. Not Guilty
John Barrett’s stereo mix of this outtake was included in Volume 1. This is Roger Scott’s mix.
Promo Films - 4 September, 1968
02. By George! It’s the David Frost Theme - take 1
03. By George! It’s the David Frost Theme - takes 2 and 3
04. Hey Jude - take 1
05. Hey Jude - take 2
06. Revolution - rehearsal
07. Revolution - take 1
08. Revolution - take 2
09. Hey Jude - edit of takes take 1+3
10. Hey Jude - edit of takes take 1+2+3)
Rock & Roll Circus - 11 December, 1968
11. dialogue / Yer Blues
13. Jam - take 1
14. Yer Blues - take 1 - mono, no vocals
15. Yer Blues - rehearsal - mono, no vocals
16. Yer Blues - take 2 - stereo
17. Yer Blues - take 1 - stereo (plus take 2 applause)
18. Her Blues - take 1 - stereo
19. Yer Blues - take 2 – mono acetate
20. Her Blues - take 1 - mono acetate
Disc 12 - Whitecasts
The Cilla Black Show - 6 February, 1968
01 reading viewer mail
02 ventriloquism/Nellie Dean
03 Do You Like Me
The Kenny Everett Show - 6 June, 1968
The Smoother Brothers Comedy Hour - 8 November, 1968
12. George’s Cameo
13. By George! It’s the David Frost Theme - takes 2 and 3
14. Hey Jude - edit of takes 1+2+3
15. Revolution - take 1
16. dialogue/Yer Blues
17. Yer Blues - take 2 wide stereo
18. Her Blues - take 1 - wide stereo
19. Yer Blues - take 2
20. Kenny Everett Interview
(Part of the Broadcast version, featuring Everett’s edits and sound effects.)
21. Yer Blues - take 2 - mono
22. Her Blues - take 1 - partial mono
The ‘White Album’ Sessions Recording Personnel:
Lead, harmony and background vocals; lead and rhythm (electric and acoustic) guitars, four- and six-string bass guitar; Hammond organ; drums and assorted percussion (tambourine, hand-shake bell, handclaps and vocal percussion) and sound effects.
Lead, harmony and background vocals; lead and rhythm (electric and acoustic) guitars, 4 and 6-string bass guitar; pianos (electric and acoustic), Hammond organ, harmonium, mellotron; drums and assorted percussion (tambourine, maraccas, thumping on the back of an acoustic guitar, handclaps and vocal percussion); harmonica, saxophone and whistling; tapes, tape loops and sound effects (electronic and home-made).
Lead, harmony and background vocals; lead and rhythm (electric and acoustic) guitars, 4 and 6-string bass guitar; pianos (electric and acoustic), Hammond organ, drums, timpani and assorted percussion (tambourine, handclaps and vocal percussion; drums on “Back in the U.S.S.R.” and “Dear Prudence”); recorder, flugelhorn and sound effects.
Drums and assorted percussion (tambourine, bongos, cymbals, maracas, vocal percussion); lead vocals, electric piano and sleigh bell (on “Don’t Pass Me By”) , lead vocals (on “Don’t Pass Me By” and “Good Night”) and backing vocals (“The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill”).
Guest Musicians & Friends:
Eric Clapton – lead guitar on “While my Guitar Gently Weeps”
Mal Evans – backing vocals and handclaps on “Dear Prudence”,”The Continuing Story of
Bungalow Bill” and “Birthday”, saxophone and sound effects on “Helter Skelter”
Jack Fallon – violin on “Don’t Pass Me By”
Pattie Harrison – backing vocals on “Birthday”
Nicky Hopkins – piano
Jackie Lomax – backing vocals and handclaps on “Dear Prudence”
George Martin – horn, piano, orchestration
Jimmy Scott – congas on “Ob-La-Di-Ob-La-Da”
Pete Shotton – tambourine
Maureen Starkey – backing vocals on “The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill”
The Mike Sammes Singers – backing vocals on “Good Night”
Yoko Ono – backing vocals and handclaps on “The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill” and
tapes and sound effects on “Revolution 9”, backing vocals on “Birthday”
Frederick Alexander – cello (on “Martha My Dear”)
Ted Barker – tuba, trombone (on “Martha My Dear”)
Leo Birnbaum and Henry Myerscough – viola (on “Martha My Dear”)
Eric Bowie – cello (on “Glass Onion”)
Leon Calvert – trumpet and flugelhorn (on “Martha My Dear”)
Ronald Chamberlain – saxophone
Jim Chester – saxophone
Freddy Clayton – trumpet
Henry Datyner – cello (on “Glass Onion”)
Jack Fallon – violin
Eldon Fox – trumpet (on “Glass Onion”)
Ron Hughes – trumpet (on “Glass Onion” and “Martha My Dear”)
Reginald Kilbey – cello
Harry Klein – clarinet (on “Honey Pie”), saxophone (on “Savoy Truffle”)
Don Lan – trombone
Norman Lederman – cello (on “Glass Onion”)
Les Maddox – violin (on “Martha My Dear”)
Dennis McConnell – violin
Bernard Miller – violin (on “Martha My Dear”)
Andy Morris – saxophone, trombone
Henry Myerscough – viola (on “Martha My Dear”)
Raymond Newman – clarinet
Bill Povey – trombone
John Power – trombone
Billy Preston – organ
Alf Reece – tuba (on “Martha My Dear”)
Stanley Reynolds and Ronnie Hughes – trumpet (on “Martha My Dear”)
David Smith – clarinet
Lou Soufier – violin (on “Martha My Dear”)
Ronald Thomas – cello (on “Glass Onion”)
Tony Tunstall – french horn (on “Martha My Dear”)
John Underwood, Keith Cummings – trumpet (on “Glass Onion”),
Dennis Walton – saxophone
Derek Watkins – trumpet
Geoff Emerick – engineer, vocal on “Revolution #1” (“Take 2”)
George Martin – record producer and mixer; string, brass, clarinet, orchestral arrangements and
conducting; piano on “Rocky Raccoon”
Ken Scott – principal engineer and mixer
Chris Thomas – producer; mellotron on “The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill”, harpsichord on “Piggies” and piano on “Long, Long, Long”
"We're more popular than Jesus now; I don't know which will go first - rock and roll or Christianity". John Lennon, 1966.
The Beatles have sold more records than any other musical artist in history, with EMI Records estimating more than one billion albums sold worldwide. The song "Yesterday" alone has been covered more than 3,000 times. They also hold the record for most #1 singles in the U.S. with twenty.
The story of The Beatles begins innocently enough when John Lennon got some friends together to form a Skiffle band called The Quarrymen. Skiffle was a popular early version of Rock & Roll, which was simple to play, needing just a guitar, a snare drum, a bass and two or three chords. The Quarrymen had a chronically unstable lineup, but Lennon was eventually joined by two younger musicians who shared his ambition: Paul McCartney, who was introduced to Lennon through a mutual friend in July 1957; and George Harrison, a schoolfriend of McCartney, who joined in the spring of 1958.
In 1959-60, the band gradually abandoned the Quarrymen name, performing under different names before settling with The Beatles. By this point, Stuart Sutcliffe had joined the band on bass, and Pete Best became their permanent drummer in August 1960. Performing in Liverpool and Hamburg, the Beatles became known for their raucous shows, which were a mix of covers and original tunes.
During a residency in Hamburg, Stuart Sutcliffe fell in love with a German girl and decided to stay when the band returned to England, reducing the quintet to four members. Sutcliffe would suffer a brain hemorrhage on April 10, 1962 and die at the age of 21.
Meanwhile, The Beatles' endless touring had won them over a number of fans, and they had gotten a big break by performing as a backup group for popular singer Tony Sheridan. Labeled as Tony Sheridan and the Beat Brothers, later released as The Beatles With Tony Sheridan, the single "My Bonnie" gained some popularity, particularly in Liverpool. Brian Epstein managed a large record shop in the city, and when he discovered that these Beat Brothers were a local group, he decided to go see them play. He was astonished at the reaction of the kids in the crowd and saw something special. He immediately signed on as their manager, made them change their style from a leather-jacket wearing gang to wearing matching suits while on stage, and, eventually, convinced them to drop Best as their drummer, and take on the drummer from another Liverpool band, Rory Storm & The Hurricanes, namely Richard Starkey, who used the stage name Ringo Starr.
After numerous attempts by Epstein to get The Beatles a recording contract, they were eventually signed by Parlophone and recorded their first album Please Please Me (minus their first two singles which were already recorded) in a single day, so the raw energy of their stage show could show through. They had previously released two moderately successful singles, and the album was a hit in the U.K. Meanwhile, they had a lot of trouble getting signed to a label in the U.S., and eventually a version would be released on the tiny Vee-Jay Records label. In April, 1964, however, they managed to get booked on The Ed Sullivan Show, and through some clever marketing by Epstein, and a huge boost by New York deejay Murray the K, their appearance was a smash. By now, they had been picked up by the much larger Capitol Records.
The early Beatles albums were released separately in the U.K. and the U.S. The U.K. versions invariably contained 14 songs, while the U.S. versions would contain 12. In addition, they would release numerous singles which would not appear on any U.K. album, but which would be packaged with the songs which were unreleased in the U.S., thus guaranteeing extra album sales in the U.S. With the advent of the CD, this difference would be rectified by making the U.K. versions the standard albums, and the addition of two singles and rarities compilations, Past Masters: Volume One and Past Masters: Volume Two, would make the collection complete.
The Beatles would simply pour out albums from 1963-1966. In those three years they would release six U.K. albums. They would also star in two movies during this time period, A Hard Day's Night (with a title inspired by a Ringo quote) and Help! Both spawned incredibly successful soundtrack albums. The earlier albums included a large split between Lennon/McCartney originals, covers and the occasional Harrison composition. As time wore on, there was less reliance on covers. Lennon and McCartney would write the bulk of the songs, with Harrison usually getting a couple of compositions in per album. Starr would write only two songs through the group’s history, although he was usually given a Lennon/McCartney song to sing on each album. As time wore on, although the Lennon/McCartney songwriting tag would always remain, the two would write together less and less often.
In 1967 The Beatles would release only one full album, but it is considered by many to be the seminal album of the rock era. Inspired by The Beach Boys' album Pet Sounds, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band would break new ground for the band, with music and lyrics inspired less by teenage crushes, and more by a desire to create art out of sound and by their heavy use of hallucinogenic drugs such as LSD. Songs like "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds" and "Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite", were swirling sound collages, and were pretty much unplayable outside of a recording studio, so The Beatles gave up on touring by this point. The members, once so close as to regularly share a bedroom, were growing apart, both artistically and as friends.
Not long after the release of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, Epstein was found dead of an overdose of sleeping pills. All four of The Beatles were at a meeting of the International Meditation Society in Bangor, North Wales at the time, pursuing their interest in Eastern mysticism. This fascination came primarily from George, and the following year the whole band joined him at a retreat in India with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, an Indian mystic who had founded a movement known as Transcendental Meditation.
Paul was taken by an idea to create what was basically a traveling circus on a bus and to film the entire trip. Out of this trip would come The Magical Mystery Tour; a TV movie and several new songs which would be released as a double EP in the U.K. The film was a critical disaster, and it served to push the members further apart. When they came back together to record The Beatles, better known as The White Album, the band had come to a breaking point. Paul was a perfectionist, and on a number of his songs, he performed all the instruments. Ringo briefly quit the band during the recording sessions. The album, a sprawling double disc, clearly showed that these were four people going in different directions. The White Album would be released on their new label, Apple Records.
The song "Yellow Submarine", from 1966's Revolver, was adapted into a cartoon movie in 1968. A soundtrack album accompanied it, with several new Beatles songs and a score by George Martin, The Beatles' producer.
The Beatles would record two more albums, first, Let It Be, originally titled Get Back, which was such a mess at first that it was shelved, and Abbey Road, titled after the recording studio where they had recorded the bulk of their work. Abbey Road was released first, in 1969. The Get Back tapes were turned over to a new producer, Phil Spector, who added numerous overdubs to the work, and it would be released in 1970 as Let It Be. A re-release in 2003 would strip away Spector’s overdubs and present the album in a form arguably closer to its original conception.
Meanwhile, Paul McCartney had recorded the first major solo album by a Beatle (both Lennon and Harrison had also released solo albums, but they were more experimental albums and didn't see huge mainstream success). Due to come out around the same time as Let It Be (actually two weeks before), Paul refused to delay release, and in a bizarre self-interview, announced that he was leaving The Beatles, although there are some who say John had actually quit the band some time before.
The four would never record together again, despite constant rumors of a reunion. Something of a reunion almost happened, too, when Paul happened to be visiting John in New York and the pair was watching Saturday Night Live. Producer Lorne Michaels appeared on the show in a skit, oblivious to the fact that Lennon and McCartney were together across town, and offered the band the ridiculously low sum of $3,000 to appear on the show (the band had received huge offers to reunite even for a single show). Rumor has it they had called for a taxi to bring them to the studio before deciding against it.
In 1995, Paul, George and Ringo came together again for the release of The Beatles Anthology, which included a mini-series documentary on television and three double albums of outtakes, unreleased songs and rarities. Although John Lennon had been murdered in 1980, the remaining members took two Lennon demos and added their own instrumentation and lyrics - those two songs, "Free as a Bird" and "Real Love", being the last two songs credited to "The Beatles" to see release. The death of George Harrison from cancer in 2001 put an end to any rumors of further Beatles reunions.
A1: Back in the U.S.S.R.
Mike Love from the Beach Boys was sitting in a hotel lobby when Paul McCartney came down for breakfast. The two of them chatted for awhile, and Love suggested that The Beatles incorporate a little bit of a Beach Boy sound in a song, "Like we did in California Girls." McCartney was impressed with the idea and used some Beach Boys' elements in this song: Instead of "California Girls" it was "Moscow Girls." Plus, the definitive Beach Boy "Oooeeeeoooo" in the background harmonies. The title was inspired by Chuck Berry's "Back In The U.S.A." Mike said to Paul, "Wouldn't it be fun to do a Soviet version of 'Back In The USA'?" The Beach Boys had been influenced by that song and also "Sweet Little Sixteen" to come up with "California Girls" and "Surfin' USA." Paul stated in 1968, "In my mind it's just about a (Russian) spy who's been in America for a long time and he's become very American but when he gets back to the USSR he's saying, 'Leave it 'til tomorrow to unpack my case, Honey, disconnect the phone.' and all that, but to Russian women."
Things were tense when they were working on this album, and Ringo walked out during recording, briefly quitting the band. Paul McCartney played drums in his place.
The Beatles originally wrote this for wafer-thin actress and model Twiggy.
The line "Georgia's always on my mind" in a play on the Ray Charles song "Georgia On My Mind." It has a double meaning, since Georgia was part of the U.S.S.R.
Elton John performed this when he toured Russia in 1979. Billy Joel also played it when he toured Moscow in 1987. This song caused a controversy with conservative America, because it came out during Vietnam and the Cold War and it appeared to be celebrating the enemy.
This opens with the sound of an airplane flying from left to right across the speakers. Stereo was relatively new, so this was very innovative for the time.
On August 22, 1968, following an argument with McCartney over the drum part for this song, Ringo walked out on The Beatles. He flew to Sardinia for a holiday to consider his future. While there he received a telegram from his bandmates saying, 'You're the best rock 'n' roll drummer in the world. Come on home, we love you.' On his return, he found his drum kit covered with flowers. A banner above read, 'Welcome Back.'
Paul McCartney told Mojo magazine October 2008 that the song's middle-eight was a spoof of the Beach Boys leading up to Pet Sounds. He added: "The rest is (sings first bars of the melody line of the opening verse) more Jerry Lee (Lewis). And the title is Chuck Berry, Back In The U.S.A., and the song itself is more a take on Chuck. You'd get these soldiers back from Korea or Vietnam, wherever the hell, and Chuck was picking up on that. I thought it was a funny idea to spoof that with the most unlikely thing of way back in Siberia."
There was a rumor in the Soviet Union that The Beatles had secretly visited the U.S.S.R. and given a private concert for the children of top Communist party members. They believed the song was written because of the concert. Actually, some fans still believe so. Paul McCartney used this as the title to an album he released only in Russia in 1989. In 2002, McCartney called his US tour the "Back In The US" tour.
A2 Dear Prudence
While Mia Farrow inspired such men as Andre Previn, Frank Sinatra and Woody Allen, her sister Prudence left her mark on John Lennon. According to Nancy de Herrera's book, All You Need Is Love, Prudence met The Beatles on a spiritual retreat with the Maharishi in India, which she attended with Mia. When Prudence, suffering depression, confined herself to her room, Lennon wrote this hoping to cheer her up. It did. According to American flautist Paul Horn, who was also with them in Rishikesh, Prudence was a highly sensitive person, and by jumping straight into deep meditation, against the Maharishi's advice, she had allowed herself to fall into a catatonic state. Horn stated, "She was ashen-white and didn't recognize anybody. She didn't even recognize her own brother who was on the course with her. The only person she showed any slight recognition towards was Maharishi. We were all concerned about her and Maharishi assigned her a full-time nurse." Prudence Farrow wanted to "Teach God quicker than anyone else," according to John Lennon. She would lock herself in her room trying to meditate for hours and hours. From A Hard Day's Write, by Steve Turner: "At the end of the demo version of Dear Prudence John continues playing guitar and says: 'No one was to know that sooner or later she was to go completely berserk, under the care of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. All the people around were very worried about the girl because she was going insane. So, we sang to her.'" Prudence Farrow explained years later that she was just trying to take Transcendental Meditation seriously. She said in Mojo magazine, September 2008: "They were trying to be cheerful, but I wished they'd go away. I don't think they realized what the training was all about." Ringo had left the group as the White Album sessions got very tense, so Paul McCartney played drums. When Ringo came back a short time later, there were flowers on his drum kit welcoming him back.
The guitars were overdubbed 6 or 7 times.
John Lennon's handwritten lyrics were auctioned off for $19,500 in 1987. Lennon considered this one of his favorites. Siouxsie And The Banshees covered this in 1983. Their version went to #3 in the UK and became their biggest hit. This song was in the movie Across the Universe, which was based on The Beatles music. In the movie, Prudence (played by T.V. Carpio) locked herself in a closet after discovering that Sadie and JoJo were together when she thought she loved Sadie. Lucy (Evan Rachel Wood), Jude (Jim Sturges), Sadie (Dana Fuges) and Max (Joe Anderson) sing this to make her feel better. It gets her out of the closet and they end the song at a anti-Vietnam War rally.
A3 Glass Onion
John Lennon used meaningless lyrics to confuse people who were reading too much into his songs. He got a kick out of people trying to analyze his lyrics.
A glass onion is a coffin with a see-through lid. Because of this, it became a big part of the "Paul is Dead" hoax. Another clue for those who believed the hoax: Lennon sang, "The Walrus is Paul." In many European countries, a walrus represents death. Lennon mentioned other Beatles songs in the lyrics: "Strawberry Fields," "I am the Walrus," "Lady Madonna," "The Fool on the Hill," and "Fixing a Hole."
Lennon wanted to name one of the bands they signed to Apple Records "Glass Onion." They chose "Badfinger" instead.
One theory is that "Glass Onion" refers to Lennon's opinion of the yogic concept of the lotus with its layered petals (layers of consciousness to be stripped away, much like an onion, through meditation) as a bunch of transparent bull used by the Maharishi to manipulate and seduce. He's also saying the Maharishi's whole shtick stinks and is a crying shame. When Lennon sings about the "Cast Iron Shore," he's referring to what was an area of beach at Liverpool, that is now partly built over. This area of Liverpool is called Otterspool. According to Mojo magazine, the Beatles recorded 34 takes of the song's basic rhythm track on Wednesday September 11, 1968, then returned the next day to overdub Lennon's vocal and again on Friday and the following Monday for further overdubs. On October 10th George Martin, after returning from holiday, added the string section.
Paul McCartney had the original idea for writing a song that had a poke at all those who read too much into the Beatles lyrics. McCartney came up with its structure and he and Lennon wrote it roughly 50-50.
Lennon explained to Rolling Stone in a 1971 interview why he said "The Walrus is Paul." Said Lennon: "'I Am The Walrus' was originally the B side of 'Hello Goodbye.' I was still in my love cloud with Yoko and I thought, well, I'll just say something nice to Paul: 'It's all right, you did a good job over these few years, holding us together.' He was trying to organize the group, and organize the music, and be an individual and all that, so I wanted to thank him. I said 'the Walrus is Paul' for that reason. I felt, 'Well, he can have it. I've got Yoko, and thank you, you can have the credit.'"
A4 Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da
The title comes from a Reggae band called Jimmy Scott and his Obla Di Obla Da Band. Says McCartney, "A fella who used to hang around the clubs used to say in a Jamaican accent, "Ob-la-di, ob-la-da, life goes on," and he got annoyed when I did a song of it, 'cause he wanted a cut. I said, 'Come on, Jimmy, it's just an expression." When Jimmy Scott needed money for bail (he was jailed for missing alimony payments), McCartney had his friend Alistair Taylor put up the money in exchange for Scott dropping rights to the name. Taylor had to get the money from a friend, since no one in the Beatles camp carried much cash. Paul McCartney wrote this and The Beatles spent a great deal of time recording and overdubbing it. John, George, and Ringo became very annoyed. Harrison hinted at his frustration on "Savoy Truffle," which was recorded three months later. In the song he wrote; "But what is sweet now, turns so sour/ We all know Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da/ But can you show me, where you are?"
John Lennon hated this song. He didn't like a lot of McCartney's later songs with The Beatles, feeling they were trite and meaningless. Ringo and George disliked this too and all three of them vetoed Paul's wish that this be released as a single. This was a #1 hit in England for Marmalade in 1968. With this song, Marmalade became the first Scottish group to top the UK charts (leaving little doubt about their origin, they performed the song on Top Of The Pops wearing kilts). It also could be considered the first UK #1 to be done in a Reggae style. Marmalade's bassist Graham Knight recalls in 1000 UK #1 Hits by Jon Kutner and Spencer Leigh, "The Beatles' music publisher, Dick James, played us the acetate of The Beatles' Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da and we thought it was great. He said, 'You can have it, I won't give it to anyone else,' but of course he passed it to another 27 acts. We rush-recorded it in the middle of the night during a week of cabaret in the north-east. Our manager, who was in America at the time, kept sending us telegrams not to do it. He didn't think we should record a Beatles song. We expected it to do well, but we didn't think it would go to #1. We got no feedback from The Beatles at all. There had been so many covers by that time that I shouldn't think they'd have been very interested." The guitars were over-modulated on purpose to get the desired effect. This was one of the first songs with a Reggae beat to have pop success. Paul mistakenly sang "Desmond stays at home and does his pretty face." It was intended to be "Molly," but Paul decided to leave it in to create confusion.
Lennon played the piano part. After doing a huge number of takes (around 60), Paul continued on trying to record this as a slow song. John was in the other room listening while doing drugs. After getting high, he was very frustrated to hear Paul record it slow so many times. He subsequently burst into the recording room, pushed Paul aside and got on the piano playing the song very fast and upbeat. The fast and happy recording on the infamous White Album is the result. The Beatles never performed this live, as they stopped touring in 1966, but Paul McCartney did play it live - eventually. He included it in his setlist for the first time on his 2010 "Up And Coming" tour. The author Paul Saltzman, who was studying Transcendental Meditation in Rishikesh, India with The Beatles in February 1968, published a photo book on his time with the band called The Beatles In India, where Saltzman recalled watching McCartney and Lennon collaborating on the song. Wrote Saltzman: "I looked over and under Paul's toe, under his sandal was a little torn piece of paper. And I look over and in his handwriting it's 'Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da, bra/La-La how the life goes on.' And I'm sitting beside Ringo (Starr) - maybe five feet away from Paul - and they start singing it and really working with it. Only those words -- only John and Paul. Ringo was just quietly listening."
A5 Wild Honey Pie
It was originally uncertain whether this 53-second oddity would be included on The White Album. According to Paul McCartney, the fact that George's then wife, Pattie Harrison, liked this piece a great deal sealed its inclusion. All instruments and vocals were performed byl McCartney. In their later years, The Beatles often recorded their parts separately. This evolved out of an impromptu sing-along at the Maharishi's retreat in India. The band went there to study meditation in 1968. This song was another that contributed to Charles Manson's belief that the Beatles were singing to him. According to the book Helter Skelter, the lines, "Honey pie sail across the Atlantic" meant that The Beatles wanted to meet him. Also from the song, Manson believed that Paul McCartney was saying he wanted Manson to put out a record.
A6 The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill
John Lennon called this quirky tune, "A sort of teenage social-comment song and a bit of a joke."
Lennon wrote this about a guy he met at the Maharishi's camp in India who loved to hunt. The 4 Beatles went on the retreat to study meditation, but were not impressed with the results. The hunter's name was Richard A. Cooke and his wife Bronwyn explained in Mojo magazine September 2008 that Richard, "had asked the Maharishi if it was a sin to kill a tiger. John and George were in the room. Maharishi's response was, 'Life destruction is Life destruction.' Rik has not shot anything since. He became a freelance photographer for National Geographic." Yoko Ono sang the line "Not when he looked so fierce." It was the first female vocal on a Beatles song. The opening riff that sounds like a flamenco guitar was played on a Mellotron, which is a type of synthesizer. Ringo's wife Maureen sang harmony.
The Beatles recorded this in an overnight session. Everyone around the studio was invited to sing on the chorus. The correct name of the LP this is on is actually called "The Beatles." It became known as "The White Album" because of it's stark white cover.
A7 While My Guitar Gently Weeps
Eric Clapton played lead guitar on this song. He and George Harrison were good friends, but George had to convince him to come to the studio because Clapton was worried the other Beatles wouldn't want him there. Clapton's presence eased the mood in the studio at a tense time for The Beatles. They were at each other's throats during recording of The White Album, but they all relaxed when Clapton showed up. This was originally recorded as an acoustic ballad with just Harrison on acoustic guitar and Paul McCartney on organ. This version can be found on some bootlegs and on The Beatles Anthology 3. This was the first song Ringo played on after leaving the band in frustration a few weeks earlier. He returned to find flowers on his drums to welcome him back.
A8 Happiness Is a Warm Gun
The title came from an article in a gun magazine John Lennon saw. "Happiness Is A Warm Gun" was the slogan of the National Rifle Association. It struck Lennon as "fantastic, insane… a warm gun means you've just shot something." This complicated song, which involved various different time signatures, (the 6/8 middle section was made more convoluted by Ringo continuing to drum in 4/4), took 15 hours and over 100 takes to nail. The first half of one take was combined with the second half of another to form the complete song. Like the composer Wagner, Lennon felt that a song must have increasing excitement, climax and redemption. The song is built from pieces of several different little songs, with different melodies and rhythms, and one after another, the excitement is increasing. The climax is the falsetto, and finally the redemption is in the continuing call and answer. When The White Album was released in 1968, it was not commonly known that Lennon was a composer, as many people thought that he was only a lyric writer. After The Beatles broke up, their individual songwriting contributions were revealed in greater detail. Lennon said of this song: "It's sort of a history of Rock 'n' Roll." Much of the imagery in the lyrics was about his sexual passion for Yoko. Lennon considered this one of his favorites. It's also Paul McCartney's favorite song on The White Album.
B1 Martha My Dear
Paul McCartney had a sheepdog named Martha. According to the book A Hard Day's Write, the song is actually about McCartney's "muse" - the voice in his head that tells him what words and music to write. He did have a dog named Martha but named her after his muse. Paul Simon wrote about his muse in "Cecilia" and Bob Dylan wrote about his in "Love Minus Zero/No Limit." 14 session musicians were used to play strings and horns. Lennon played guitar on this while Harrison supplied bass. One of Martha's offspring can the seen on the cover of McCartney's 1993 album Paul Is Live.
B2 I'm So Tired
John Lennon wrote this at a transcendental meditation camp in India when he couldn't sleep. He was meditating day and night, and after 3 weeks of meditation and lectures by Indian gurus he missed his soon-to-be wife, Yoko Ono, and came up with the song. The Beatles went on the retreat to study with the Maharishi. When it was over, Lennon thought it was a crock, but he wrote some good songs while he was there. The voice at the end sounds like, "Paul is dead man, miss him," when played backward. This helped fuel rumors that McCartney was dead and replaced by an actor that looked like him.
Paul McCartney wrote this about the civil rights struggle for blacks after reading about race riots in the US. He penned it in his kitchen in Scotland not long after Little Rock, when the federal courts forced the racial desegregation of the Arkansas capital's school system. McCartney told Mojo magazine October 2008: "We were totally immersed in the whole saga which was unfolding. So I got the idea of using a blackbird as a symbol for a black person. It wasn't necessarily a black 'bird', but it works that way, as much as then you called girls 'birds'; the Everlys had had Bird Dog, so the word 'bird' was around. 'Take these broken wings' was very much in my mind, but it wasn't exactly an ornithological ditty; it was purposely symbolic." Only 3 things were recorded: Paul's voice, his acoustic guitar, and a tapping. According to the video The Complete Beatles, the tap was not a foot or metronome - the Master was intentionally scratched. If you listen closely you will notice that is sounds like a scratch on a record. Birds were dubbed in later. The guitar accompaniment for this song was inspired by Bach's Bourrée in E minor for lute. This is often played on classical guitar, an instrument Paul McCartney and George Harrison had tried to learn when they were kids. McCartney told Mojo magazine October 2008: "We had the first four bars (of the Bourrée in E minor) and that was as far as my imagination went. I think George had it down for a few more bars and then he crapped out. So I made up the next few bars, and (sings his four-note variation Bach's theme) it became the basis of Blackbird."
George Harrison's mother Louise contributed the line: "What they need is a damn good whacking." Harrison intended this as social commentary, but many people interpreted it as an anti-police anthem. Charles Manson, in his very disturbed mind, thought the term "damn good whacking" meant against the American police. During the murders of Sharon Tate, the LaBianca's and others, knives and forks were used to stab them because these utensils were mentioned in the song. The words "pig and piggy," were written with the victims' blood on the walls. Harrison was horrified when he learned his song took on another meaning. John Lennon did not play on this, but he improved this slightly with the line, "Clutching forks and knives they eat their bacon" - adding a touch of cannibalism to the proceedings. This replaced the line, "Clutching forks and knives to cut their pork chops" which can be heard on Anthology 3. The pig noises were his idea.
B5 Rocky Raccoon
Paul McCartney got the idea for this when he was playing guitar with John Lennon and Donovan Leitch at the Maharishi's camp in India. The Beatles went there in 1968 to study transcendental meditation. Beatles producer George Martin played the piano in an old-west saloon style. Several Beatles songs feature piano parts, which were usually played by either Martin, Lennon, Nicky Hopkins or Billy Preston. The main character was originally called Rocky Sassoon but McCartney changed it to Raccoon, as he thought the name was more cowboyish. Like many of McCartney's songs at the time, this was a pastiche, in this instance of Folk songs. He explained in Mojo magazine October 2008: "I've got to admit a lot of my stuff is pastiche. I'd learned by then that pastiche would work because inevitably behind it would be something more." McCartney told Mojo about the song: "Rocky was me writing (speaks-sings in a baccy-chewing old prospector voice), 'It was way back in the hills of Dakota-or Arkansas-in the mining days. And it was tough, picking shovels, and we were underground 24 hours a day…' I could have taken this serious route, researched it- Take This Hammer (a prison work song recorded by British skiffle star Lonnie Donegan in 1959), stuff I'd been brought up on. But at that point I was a little tongue-in cheek. So I crossed it with a (British singer and banjo player popular in the 1940s) George Formby sensibility, where John and I would go (sings a bit of doggerel in a choppy rhythm)- Stanley Holloway, Albert in The Lion's Den (the comic poem The Lion and Albert, written by Holloway's creative partner Marriott Edgar in 1932). We were very versed in all that stuff (sings opening lines of Rocky Raccoon in the same choppy way). The scanning of the poetical stanza always interested me. Somehow this little story unfolded itself. I was basically spoofing 'the folk-singer.' And it included Gideon's Bible, which I've seen in every hotel I've ever been in. You open the drawer and there it is! Who's this guy Gideon! I still don't know to this day who the heck he is. I'm sure he's a very well-meaning guy. Rocky Raccoon was a freewheeling thing, the fun of mixing a folky ramble with Albert In The Lion's Den with its ''orse's 'ead 'andle,' ha ha."
B7 Why Don't We Do It in the Road?
Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr recorded this without the other Beatles. It was one of the first Beatles songs recorded without the whole group present, something they would do more often as their relationships deteriorated. John Lennon said this was one of Paul's best songs. He may have been joking. This contains only 2 lines of lyrics, and they are probably about sexual tension. Apparently, McCartney got the idea for this while he was watching a pair of monkeys conducting business: "I was up on a flat roof meditating and I'd see a troupe of monkeys walking along and the male just hopped onto her back and gave her one, as they say in the vernacular. Within two or three seconds he hopped off again, and looked around as if to say, 'it wasn't me,' and she looked around as if there had been some kind of mild disturbance but thought, huh, I must have imagined it. And I thought, bloody hell, that puts it all into a cocked hat, that's how simple the act of procreation is, this bloody monkey just hopping on and off. There is an urge, they do it, and it's done with. It's that simple." McCartney was in India at the time. This was a very John Lennon kind of song, John was very upset Paul did not include him in the recording of this.
B8 I Will
In the televised documentary The Beatles Anthology, Paul, George and Ringo are shown relaxing on a blanket outside. Ringo asks Paul what he wrote in India and Paul answers, "I Will." Then George begins playing this on his ukulele while he and Paul harmonize with it.
McCartney had the tune for a long time. While in India he made an unsuccessful attempt, together with psychedelic singer-songwriter Donovan, to pen a lyric to go with it, months before the final version. McCartney sang the bass part instead of playing it with an instrument. John Lennon and George Harrison did not play on this. During The White Album sessions, The Beatles often recorded in separate studios. 67 takes were recorded. The 65th was used. Twenty-seven years later in 1995, this was recorded by the then 18-year-old singer/songwriter and guitarist Ben Taylor, the son of singer/songwriter Carly Simon and Singer/Songwriter and guitarist James Taylor. Taylor's version is featured in the 1995 movie Bye Bye Love, starring Paul Reiser, and is also featured as part of the movie's million-selling soundtrack album as well. In the mind of Charles Manson, this song was a message from the Beatles that they were looking for him. "For if at last I find you/Your song will fill the air" Manson took to mean that he should release an album. This along with many others were part of his deranged Helter Skelter plan.
John Lennon dedicated this song to Yoko and his mother Julia, who was struck and killed by a car driven by an off-duty police officer on July 15, 1958, when John was 17. Lennon was raised mostly by Julia's sister Mimi, but starting to see more of his mother at the time of her death.
One of five daughters, nicknamed Judy by the family, Julia met Alf Lennon at the age of 14 while she was working as a cinema usher. Ten years later they married. Julia gave birth to John after 30 hours of labor, and Alf went AWOL when he jumped ship - neither the Navy nor Julia knew of his whereabouts. He later returned but Julia refused to reconcile. She was involved in a couple other relationships; John went to live with his aunt Mimi because Julia could not provide a sound home for the boy.
When John was in is early teens he visited Julia often, and she taught him to play the banjo. John would frequently stay over at Julia's house, and in 1958 Julia was hit and killed by the off duty police officer as she walked home from Mimi's house. John named his first son Julian after her. ennon recorded this by himself. He did it completely live with an acoustic guitar and occasional overdubs on the vocals. It is the only song he did completely on his own during his time with The Beatles. Psychedelic singer Donovan Leitch taught Lennon the finger-picking guitar style. Donovan was with The Beatles in India at the Maharishi's camp in Rishikesh, India in February 1968. When Lennon was in Rishikesh, one of the biggest revelations he had was truly opening up (to himself) regarding the feelings he had for his mother, Julia. In leaning the finger-picking method, it did allow John to dig deeper into his emotions. To quote Donovan: "Learning a new style meant composing in a different way. In his deep meditation sessions, John had opened up feelings for his mother. He found release for these emotions in 'Julia,' the tune he had learned with the new finger style. I remember when I played 'Julia' on my guitar I was struck by how much the images in the song were like the images in my songs. They were very unLennon-like." The first 18 notes of this song are the same (in different metres, only changing the chords) but it's unlikely that this was done deliberately. If anything was deliberate about those notes, it would be that the number 18 resolves to a 9, which Lennon did slip into some of his tunes, but in this case, it was probably just a happy accident. In Japanese, the name Yoko means "ocean child," which Lennon included as a line in the song.
According to Q magazine May 2008, the Beatles were in a rush to get to Paul McCartney's house in time to catch the rock 'n' roll movie The Girl Can't Help It. Consequently they played around with a simple Blues track rather than record anything too involved. Duly inspired after watching the movie, they completed the song back in studio that night. Paul McCartney told Mojo magazine October 2008 the story of this song: "With 'Birthday' we had a few friends around and it was one of our party's birthday, can't remember who. Pattie Boyd was there, Terry Dolan, just a few mates. Normally we didn't have friends around to sessions so it was very unusual. We didn't know what song to do so we decided to make one up. We did what Roy Orbison had done with 'Pretty Woman' and Little Richard had started with 'Lucille,' do-do do-do do-do do-do; Roy Orbison goes, do-do do-do DO-DO DO-DO- he just changes the end a little bit. We changed basically the same riff of Lucille and Pretty Woman into Birthday- do-do do-do do-do do-do…'You say it's your birthday.'" This was one of the last songs John Lennon and Paul McCartney collaborated on. Even though all of their songs were credited to Lennon/McCartney, many of their later songs were written separately. The unique sound of this song was not supplied by an organ or any kind of keyboard. It came from running a guitar through a Leslie speaker. Such speakers are commonly found in keyboard instruments. The speaker rotates, which is what provides the different sound.
C2 Yer Blues
John Lennon wrote this in India while The Beatles were on a retreat learning meditation with the Maharishi.
John used "yer" instead of "your" in the title so as not to be taken too seriously. The song is a good-natured jab at the British blues scene. A 9 minute version with Lennon, Eric Clapton, Keith Richards and Mitch Mitchell was performed on the Rolling Stones' Rock 'n' Roll Circus. Taped as a British TV special in 1968, it never aired but was released on video in 1995. This was Lennon's first performance without The Beatles.
This was the only Beatles song Lennon performed at the Toronto Rock 'n' Roll Revival concert in 1969. Eric Clapton joined him for this on guitar. After playing with him at the Toronto show, Lennon asked Clapton to join his Plastic Ono Band. Clapton considered it, but had other obligations. The line "Feel so suicidal, just like Dylan's Mr. Jones" is a reference to Bob Dylan's song "Ballad of a Thin Man." In a Rolling Stone interview, Ringo said this song was one of his all-time favorite sessions: "We were just in an 8 foot room, with no separation, just doing what we do best: playing."The Beatles recorded this in Abbey Road Studio Two's "annex," a side room which McCartney referred to as "a cupboard." They jammed together from 7pm to 5am and after 14 takes produced this parody of British blues.
McCartney told Lennon not to title this song "Year Blues," but "just say it straight." However he kept the title as he was self conscious about singing blues. In the January 1971 edition of Rolling Stone, Lennon explained this was because, "We were all listening to Sleepy John Estes and all that in art school, like everybody else. But to sing it was something else. I'm self conscious about doing it."
C3 Mother Nature's Son
Paul McCartney wrote this in India after the Maharishi gave a speech about nature. The 4 Beatles were attending the camp to learn transcendental meditation, but were not impressed with the results. John Lennon's demo "Child of Nature," which he later re-worked into "Jealous Guy," was similarly inspired by Maharishi's lecture. McCartney recorded this by himself after the other Beatles had left the studio. Paul McCartney told Mojo magazine October 2008 that Nat King Cole's 1948 standard "Nature Boy" influenced this gentle pastoral, "because that's a song I love." He added: "At that time I considered myself a guy leaning towards the countryside. But I would have to tip a wink to Nature Boy. Though, when you think about it, the only thing they have in common is the word 'nature'- the rest of the link is pretty tenuous." John Denver recorded this in 1972. He was going to name his album after this song, but changed it when he came up with the song "Rocky Mountain High." The song's bongo-style percussion sound was achieved by miking up the drums in the Abbey Road corridor.
C4 Everybody's Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey
John Lennon described this song as, "About me and Yoko. Everybody seemed to be paranoid except for us two, who were in the glow of love." According to Mojo magazine, Lennon had recently been piqued by a cartoon that portrayed Yoko as a monkey clinging to her Beatle lover's back and took 'monkey' as his pet name for Ono. This has the longest title of any Beatles song. The backing track was sped up to give a frantic pace. The line, "Come on, Come on, its such a joy" was something the Maharishi said while The Beatles were in India in 1967. The original title of this was "Come On, Come On." This was covered by Fats Domino. Lennon really loved his cover. John Lennon played lead guitar on this one. George Harrison is playing rhythm guitar.
C5 Sexy Sadie
John Lennon wrote this about the Maharishi while he was leaving India in 1968. After attending his Transcendental Meditation camp with the other Beatles, Lennon thought The Maharishi was a crock. The song describes Lennon's total dissatisfaction with the Maharishi. While at his retreat, it has been said that the Maharishi attempted to rape Mia Farrow. Once The Beatles learned of this, they immediately went to the Maharishi, and Lennon announced they were all leaving. The Maharishi asked why? Lennon said, "If you're so cosmic, you'll know why." As originally written, some of its lyrics were considered obscene, and had to be refined. Lennon had used the Maharishi's name, but had to change it for fear of being sued. But, Sexy Sadie is the Maharishi. Needless to say, that was the end of the Maharishi and The Beatles relationship. Lennon dubbed the Maharishi "sexy" after he hit on Mia Farrow. Farrow's sister, Prudence, was also there, and her experience led Lennon to write "Dear Prudence." Maharishi Mahesh Yogi was born January 12, 1917. The founder of the Transcendental Meditation Movement, the Beatles spent time with the Maharishi in 1967-68; they were visiting him when they learned of the death of their manager Brian Epstein. John was disenchanted with the Maharishi and thought he was a hoax, and left abruptly convincing the others he was using the girls The Beatles had brought him. This song required 52 takes and a full day-and-a-half of studio time. Lennon spent much of time cussing his way through the sessions, deeply hurt after coming to the conclusion that the Maharishi was not as holy as he'd hoped. The song confirmed Charles Manson's belief that the Beatles were talking directly to him, by virtue of one of his followers, Susan Atkins, having already been nicknamed Sadie Mae Glutz. Many of the tracks from The White Album ("Piggies" for example) were interpreted by Manson as messages directed to him. In the Anthology book when The Beatles were talking about Manson, John Lennon was quoted as saying, "All the other fellows had some 'influence' on Manson, but not me I didn't do nothing," but Sadie was the nickname for Susan Atkins (Sadie Mae Glutz) which did contribute to Manson's belief that the Beatles were singing about him and his "Family."
C6 Helter Skelter
Paul McCartney wanted to write the "loudest, nastiest, sweatiest rock number we could" after reading a Pete Townshend interview describing a Who track (possibly "I Can See For Miles") as "The most raucous rock 'n' roll, the dirtiest thing they'd ever done." This was the result. Some historians of popular music now believe that this song was a key influence on the development of heavy metal.
McCartney told Mojo magazine October 2008: "Just reading those lines (of the Townshend interview) fired my imagination. I thought, Right, they've done what they think was the loudest and dirtiest; we'll do what we think. I went into the studio and told the guys, 'Look, I've got this song but Pete said this and I want to do it even dirtier.' It was a great brief for the engineers, for everyone- just as fuzzy and as dirty and as loud and as filthy as you can get it is where I want to go. I was happy to have Pete's quote to get me there."
The first version was a 27 minute jam that was never released. During the July 18, 1968 sessions, The Beatles recorded this version, which was much slower and much more tame than the album version. Another recording from the same day was edited down to 4:37 for The Beatles Anthology, Volume III. For the album version, recorded September 9, 21 takes of approximately 5 minutes each were recorded, and the last one is featured on the official LP.
In December 1968, Charles Manson heard this song, as well as others from The White Album, and interpreted them as a warning of an approaching race war. He saw the Beatles as the 4 angels mentioned in the New Testament book of Revelation and believed their songs were telling him and his followers to prepare themselves. Manson referred to this future war as "Helter Skelter." The words "Healter Skelter" (a misspelling of the Beatles song) were also written in blood at the scene of one of the Manson Family murders (The Labianca's). Because of this connection, Los Angeles assistant District Attorney Vincent Bugliosi, who led the prosecution of Manson and the other killers, named his best-selling book about the murders Helter Skelter. Bugliosi's book was the basis for a film of the same title.
In an interview with Lennon in the January 1971 edition of Rolling Stone, the former Beatle was asked about his reaction to Manson's deluded interpretation of this song. Lennon replied: "He's balmy, like any other Beatle-kind of fan who reads mysticism into it. We used to have a laugh about this, that or the other, in a light-hearted way, and some intellectual would read us, some symbolic youth generation wants to see something in it. We also took seriously some parts of the role, but I don't know what 'Helter Skelter' has to do with knifing somebody. I've never listened to the words, properly, it was just a noise." In 2006, McCartney played this on the Grammy Awards. It was the first time he performed on the Grammys. On his 2010 tour, McCartney included it on the setlist. McCartney's lead guitarist Rusty Anderson explained how it got in the set: "I was working on Paul for 'Helter Skelter' since the first time we played the Super Bowl, before we even went on tour (in 2002 A.D.). I said 'Hey, y'know what would be a really rad song to play, Paul?' He said 'what?' I said 'Helter Skelter,' and he goes (imitates McCartney) 'Oh, yeah' (laughs). It took him a while to warm up to it. And we kept prodding him and prodding him and he put it in the set -- but we still hadn't rehearsed it. We said, 'Paul are we gonna rehearse 'Helter Skelter?' And finally we did it... and I remember playing it at rehearsal and some of the pre-show dancers started coming out and dancing and rocking to it and all of a sudden he started realizing how great it is."
C7 Long, Long, Long
George Harrison wrote this and sang all the vocals. The "you" in the song refers to God. The Beatles recorded 67 takes. The rattling sound at the end is a bottle of Blue Nun wine that was left on a speaker. The last 30 seconds of this song has been called an audio simulation of Paul's supposed death in 1966.
D1 Revolution 1
This was the first overtly political Beatles song. It was John Lennon's response to the Vietnam War.
John Lennon wrote this in India while The Beatles were at a transcendental meditation camp with The Maharishi. Lennon told Rolling Stone: "I had been thinking about it up in the hills in India. I still had this 'God will save us' feeling about it, that it's going to be all right (even now I'm saying 'Hold on, John, it's going to be all right,' otherwise, I won't hold on) but that's why I did it, I wanted to talk, I wanted to say my piece about revolution. I wanted to tell you, or whoever listens, to communicate, to say 'What do you say? This is what I say.'"
The original slow version appears on The White Album. The fast, loud version was released as a single. In the slow version, Lennon says "count me in" as well as "count me out" when referring to violence. This gives the song a dual meaning.
This was released as the B-side of "Hey Jude." Lennon wanted it to be the first A-side released on Apple Records, the label The Beatles started, but "Hey Jude" got the honor.
There are so many versions of this song because Paul McCartney didn't like it. Lennon really wanted this song to be the 'A' side of the single instead of "Hey Jude," and kept changing it around to come up with something that would make Paul see it his way. He basically wrote the song because he felt like he was being pulled in so many directions by different people, all of whom wanted his backing, politically. It was also him questioning his own belief in the revolution that was going on... whether he was "out" or "in." In truth, he was writing about a revolution of the mind rather than a physical "in the streets" revolution. He truly believed that revolution comes from inner change rather than social violence. (This is discussed in the DVD Composing the Beatles Songbook)
Nike used this for commercials in 1987. Capitol Records, who owns the performance rights, meaning The Beatles version of the song, was paid $250,000. Michael Jackson, who owns the publishing rights, meaning use of the words and music, also had to agree and was paid for the song.
The Nike commercials caused a huge backlash from Beatles fans who felt that Nike was disrespecting the legacy of John Lennon, who probably would have objected to its use. There were plans to use more Beatles songs in future ads, but they were abandoned when it became clear it was not good business practice. As years went by, it became more acceptable to use songs in commercials, but Beatles songs were still considered sacred, especially since the group did not control their rights. In 2002, "When I'm 64" was used in a commercial for Allstate insurance. Many Beatles fans were not pleased, but it didn't get nearly the reaction of the Nike commercials, partly because it was not a political song, but also because it was sung by Julian Lennon, which implied endorsement by his father.
The Beatles played this, along with "Hey Jude," on The David Frost Show in 1968. It was their first performance in 2 years. They played it for the first time in America on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour in 1968.
Nicky Hopkins played the piano. When The Beatles needed keyboards, they usually used Hopkins, Billy Preston, or their producer, George Martin.
The dirty guitar sound was created by plugging the guitars directly into the audio board. The guitar sounded so scratchy that many who bought the 45 RPM single tried to return it, thinking it was defective.
D2 Honey Pie
This song was a pastiche of the classic 1940's swing and sentimental ballads written by Cole Porter, Irving Berlin or Sammy Cahn. Paul McCartney explained in Barry Miles' biography of the Beatle, Many Years From Now: "Both John and I had a great love for music hall I very much liked that old crooner style - the strange fruity voice that they used, so 'Honey Pie' was me writing one of them to an imaginary woman, across the ocean, on the silver screen, who was called Honey Pie. It's another of my fantasy songs. We put a sound on my voice to make it sound like a scratchy old record. So it's not a parody, it's a nod to the vaudeville tradition that I was raised on." John Lennon played lead guitar, George Harrison bass. During the White Album sessions, The Beatles often recorded in separate studios recording different parts. One would be doing vocals for a song while the other would do horns or guitar in a different studio. George Martin's assistant Chris Thomas ended up doing much of the work because Martin couldn't be in two places at once. Scratches were added to an opening line from an old 78 RPM record to give a dated feel. Beatles producer George Martin scored the brass and woodwind arrangement.
D3 Savoy Truffle
This was inspired by Eric Clapton's love of chocolate. He and George Harrison were good friends. George Harrison got the lyrics for this from the inside lid of a box of chocolates. Montelimart, Ginger Sling, Cream Tangerine, and Coffee Dessert were names of candies in the Mackintosh "Good News" assortment. Beatles' publicist Derek Taylor wrote some of the words.
Harrison had the sax distorted to create a distinctive sound. According to Mojo magazine, the line "You know that what you eat you are" was suggested to Harrison by the Beatles' press officer Derek Taylor.
D4 Cry Baby Cry
The lyrics were inspired by nursery rhymes and the songs Donovan was writing: Donovan's songs were "fairy tale" like. Donovan states, "I think the eventual imagery was suggested by my own songs of fairy tales. We had become very close in exchanging musical vibes." The song was based in part by two nursery rhymes, "Sing A Song Of Sixpence" and "Cry, baby, cry...stick a finger in your eye...etc." John Lennon said he got the title for the song from an advertisement. The original line from that advertisement was, "Cry, baby cry. Make your mother buy." John told Hunter Davies (the Beatles official biographer) "I've got another (song) here, a few words, I think I got them from an advert - 'Cry baby cry, Make your mother buy.' I've been playing it over on the piano. I've let it go now. It'll come back if I really want it." At the very end of the song, there is a conversation between George Martin and Alistair Taylor. Here is what's said:
Alistair Taylor: "bottle of claret for you if I'd realized. I'd forgotten all about it George, I'm sorry..."
George Martin: "Well, do next time"
Alistair: "Will you forgive me"?
Alistair: "cheeky bitch."
This is one of the songs begun in Rishikesh, India when the Beatles were staying with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.
In the song, John mentions the "Duchess of Kircaldy." Kircaldy is in Fife, Scotland and when he was young, Kircaldy was a stop that John always made when in route to visit his relations in Durness. The Beatles also performed in Kircaldy in their early years.
D5 Revolution 9
John Lennon wrote this with contributions from Yoko Ono. It's a highly experimental piece, which Lennon once called "The music of the future." It is the most controversial and bizarre track on the album - you have to have a very open mind to appreciate it.
This was made by layering tape loops over the basic rhythm of "Revolution." Lennon was trying to create an atmosphere of a revolution in progress. The tape loops came from EMI archives, and the "Number 9" voice heard over and over is an engineer testing equipment.
Lennon told Rolling Stone that this was, "an unconscious picture of what I actually think will happen when it happens; that was just like a drawing of revolution." He added: "All the thing was made with loops, I had about thirty loops going, fed them onto one basic track. I was getting classical tapes, going upstairs and chopping them up, making it backwards and things like that, to get the sound effects. One thing was an engineer's testing tape and it would come on with a voice saying 'This is EMI Test Series #9.' I just cut up whatever he said and I'd number nine it. Nine turned out to be my birthday and my lucky number and everything. I didn't realize it; it was just so funny the voice saying 'Number nine'; it was like a joke, bringing number nine into it all the time, that's all it was." Paul McCartney and Beatles producer George Martin hated this and tried to keep it off the album. This is the longest Beatles song - it runs 8:15. It also took longer to complete than any other track on album. This helped fuel the "Paul is dead" rumors. If played backwards, you were supposed to hear the car crash where Paul died, and a voice saying "Turn me on, dead man." Also, playing the line, "I'm not in the mood for wearing clothing" in reverse eventually becomes a rather odd but clear reversal, "There were 2, there are none now." This is referencing the rumor that Paul McCartney died in a car with "Lovely Rita" and that the 2 were burned away after the wreck. The rumor took off in October, 1969 when a listener called the radio station WKNR in Detroit and told the DJ Russ Gibb about the backward message. When Gibb played it backwards on his show, listeners went wild and spent the next week calling in and offering their own rumors. The story quickly spread, and McCartney helped it along by laying low and letting it play out. Lennon felt the number 9 was quite significant. He was happy that, after he changed his name to John Ono Lennon, his and Yoko's names collectively contained 9 O's. According to the book The Beatles, Lennon And Me, by John Lennon's childhood friend Pete Shotton, One evening, Lennon was with Shotton in the attic of his Kenwood home, tripping on LSD and smoking a few joints. They messed about with John's Brunnel recorders, fiddling with feedback, running recordings backwards and creating tape loops. Opening the windows for some fresh air, John and Pete began to shout whatever was on their minds at the trees outside, the recorder running. This night's lark was to later captured on "Revolution 9." Marilyn Manson released their own version of this on the B-side of the single for "Get Your Gunn." It was called "Revelation 9" and ran 12:57. This was parodied on an episode of The Simpsons. When the guys for a group called The B-Sharps, Barney meets a girl during recording. He exclaims at the studio that he's making the music of all time. The song is Barney's girl friend (with striking resemblance to Yoko Ono) saying "Number 8" and Barney burping.
D6 Good Night
This is the final track on The White Album, which was a double album released in the UK in November 1968. It's a tender ballad written by John Lennon and sung by Ringo Starr, whose voice suited the song's mood perfectly. It was completed with a lush score by Beatles producer George Martin, who also conducted the orchestra of 26 musicians. Along with the Mike Sammes Singers choral overdubs it was all consigned to the oxide particles in a late night session in Studio 1 at Abbey Road on July 22, 1968. Many have thought this was a Paul McCartney song due to its gentle nature, but it does show John could write for the two opposite ends of the spectrum from the rockers like "Revolution" to the gentle "Julia." John Lennon wrote this lullaby for his son, Julian, who did not discover this was written for him until 12 years after it's release on The White Album.
Ringo sang this accompanied by a 30 piece orchestra and a choir. He is the only Beatle to appear on the song. The Orchestra was scored by Beatles producer George Martin. Paul McCartney recalled in Many Years From Now by Barry Miles: "I think John felt it might not be good for his image for him to sing it but it was fabulous to hear him do it, he sang it great. We heard him sing it in order to teach it to Ringo and he sang it very tenderly. John rarely showed his tender side, but my key memories of John are when he was tender, that's what has remained with me; those moments where he showed himself to be a very generous, loving person. I always cite that song as an example of the John beneath the surface that we only saw occasionally... I don't think John's version was ever recorded." This song demonstrates some similarities between John Lennon and the composer Richard Wagner. The transition from Lennon's chaotic "Revolution 9" to his light "Good Night," sounds very much like the end of "Die Götterdämmerung," where you hear dark and chaotic orchestra music that changes fashion and ends with a little conventional melody.
With its long notes, depth and melancholy, this resembles Lennon's "If I Fell." If you sing "If I Fell" very, very slowly, the melody to "Good Night" will appear. Coldplay played the song at the end of their concerts in 2005 while they waved goodbye and exited the stage.
Beginning a review is tough. You have to catch the reader’s eye and also manage to present something about the album, all while avoiding making a wall of text. I guess I’ll start this one off with a confession: I think that the name “The White Album” is stupid and shouldn’t be used. Yes, calling this The Beatles might get confusing, but for your sake I’ll use italics just this once. If you’re not calling this The Beatles, you’re ignoring and denying the character and essence of the album. It isn’t named that in the singular, united sense, it’s plural, as in “this is stuff that all the Beatles made”. It’s four solo albums, each tugging at the rope as hard as they can.
It’s widely known that the band was on the edge during recording. Brian Epstein was gone and management was getting the boys down. Yoko Ono’s increased presence was welcome by John Lennon but caused tension with the other three. Musical differences also led to problems. John was getting more experimental and avant-garde; Paul McCartney was going back a decade or two and reliving their pop. The songwriting pair, while still in the Lennon/McCartney name, was reduced to a rivalry. Paul was famously embarassed to even think about asking to sing on one of John’s songs on another album.
Even if this wasn’t a traditional record by The Beatles, this 30 song double album contains a lot of their best work. John has quite a few of his best efforts here “Dear Prudence” and “Julia” are tremendously powerful ballads. “Glass Onion” is a gently rocking “tribute” to over-analyzing fans. “The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill” and “Cry Baby Cry” are nice little fairytales, the latter is especially underrated. “Happiness is a Warm Gun” is one of the best they’ve recorded, and if memory serves, was one the whole band could actually agree on. The many changes in it make it what it is. Honorable mentions go to “I’m So Tired”, “Yer Blues”, “Everybody’s Got Something to Hide Except For Me and My Monkey“, and “Sexy Sadie”. But no honorable mention to “Revolution 9”, I don’t care, it’s crappy filler.
Paul does more than prove his worth. “Back in the USSR”, a rocking Beach Boys parody, never ceases to get a smile, nor does “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da”, a ska…y song that’s impossible not to sing along to. “Martha My Dear” is overwhelmingly underrated, one of the best here. It changes itself up halfway through and turns into something great. “Blackbird” is stunningly beautiful, I can see why it’s one of my Mom’s favorite songs. “Rocky Raccoon” is a Western number with an authentic saloon piano that is more impossible to sing along to than pretty much anything. “I Will” is a lovey ballad. “Helter Skelter” is pretty much the opposite, I love how dirty it sounds. I wish the 27 minute version was left in…
George is phenomenal on this release. “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” might be the best on the album, it towers over everything with its “oh look at me, I have Eric Clapton and a really cool piano part and I am just awesome so look at me”. It embodies classic rock, is what it does. “Piggies” is underrated, yes it’s silly, yes it’s pretentious, but it still sounds good. “Long, Long, Long” shows that he also had skill in writing catchy ballads, he could teach Paul a thing or two. “Savoy Truffle” is about candy but it still sounds really cool and leaves ol’ Georgie four for four.
Ringo, that lovable dog, didn’t contribute much of anything. He didn’t even drum on the first two songs, walking out in anger at how the band was going. His masterpiece didn’t come until the next release, but his only song here, “Don’t Pass Me By”, is still pretty good. I don’t know why he’s so country influenced but he is, and it’s really noticeable here. It might have been his try at writing songs Lennon/McCartney were in Rubber Soul, or it might have been his plea to branch out on his own. Whatever it is, it’s a solid song.
The sequencing is very well done. They bounce rockers off of ballads, never leaving a stretch of filler. There are a few stretches of amazing though, namely “While My Guitar…” – “Happiness…” – “Martha My Dear” and the animal section. The first disc/17 songs are superior to the second, but nothing ever drags or has a noticeable drop in quality. From Paul’s satire to John’s song to Julian, it’s very, very good throughout. It’s a shame that it took the band basically breaking up for them to release songs of this caliber.
The Beatles: Inspired Groovers
By Richard Goldstein | 8 December 1968 | Source: The New York Times
The Beatles are capable of parody, profundity and poise, but they also epitomize the pretenses of their culture. For, more than anyone else in the pop hegemony, the Beatles involve themselves in the times. Unlike Dylan, who wanders like a pilgrim across the fiery plains of his own imagination, the Beatles are inspired groovers, equally at home in the haute monde (which cherishes them as clever rakes) and the underground (where they are loved as magic rebels).
This dual appeal to opposing camps has made the Beatles philosopher-kings of pop. Their nation of subjects is more diverse than any monarch’s, and they have learned to respond to this audience by infusing their music with the kind of ambiguity which allows any listener to draw their own conclussions.
This elusiveness — so central to the rock experience — is what keeps the Beatles’ work popular and fresh. Even at their most extravagant (clothed in grace-notes, and spangled with aleatory gems) their songs never seem stale because they are never specific. If the Beatles began as sexual shamans, they have blossomed as thought-wizards, so adept at casting spells that we have all to measure the art of our time as a magical mystery tour.
Their new album is called simply, The Beatles (Apple SWBO 101). By packaging 30 new songs in a plain white jacket, so sparsely decorated as to suggest censorship, the Beatles ask us to drop our preconceptions about their “evolution” and to hark back. Inside are four “candid” photos (the portrait of Paul McCartney unshaven is the most image-shattering) and a large broadside with photo-snippets on one face and printed lyrics on the other. The Beatles, who are obviously familiar with the mythic value of publicity photos, have chosen to present us with a collection of rough hewn memorabilia. In contrast to the jackets of “Sergent Pepper” and “Magical Mystery Tour,” which were ornate and ultra formal, this is a casual, highly personalized package. In fact, examining it is like receiving a parcel with a long, rambling letter fron the Beatles — and an expensive one at that: it retails at $12. All this is intended to suggest a mood somewhat between nostalgia and innovation.
Measured in terms of its own goals, the album must be recognized as a major success. For me, it is the most satisfying collection of Beatles songs since “Revolver” was released more than two years ago. In terms of melodic and lyrical diversity, it is far more imaginative that either “Sergent Pepper” or “Magical Mystery Tour.” Both these albums relied on the surrogate magic of studio technique, while neglecting the basics of song composition. This time, the Beatles have dared to be restrained. There is a pervasive hush over the entire work, even in its harsher moments. The arrangements are are solidly built on a bedrock of guitar, bass and drums. Although there are occasional flights of symphonic fancy, the songs themselves are sturdy enough to bear the weight of orchestrated variations.
The Beatles seem secure now in their roles as concert-masters. Perhaps they no longer need to depend on instrumentation to convey their message. The meticulous structure of “Sergeant Pepper” — which inspired so much critical analysis — is abandoned here for the less explicit format of random songs. But though there is no direction to this album, the enormous range of the moods it explores (from hard raunch to soft reflection; from hurdy-gurdy histrionics to deft nostalgia; from put-on to profundity) is far more effective as vaudeville than was their previous work. The Beatles have always sough to involve us in their songs, by trick or shtick. They are still involving us, but this time they have chosen (by a subtle strategy of suggestion) to disarm rather than overwhelm.
How immediately charming this album is. “The Continuing Saga of Bungalow Bill,” and “Why Don’t We Do It In The Road?” radiate a vivacious mischief. “Blackbird” and “Julia” are sedately laconic. “Rocky Raccoon” and “Good Night” come across as jovial conceits. All in all, there doesn’t seem to be much about this music that is complicated or unintelligible. The Beatles — one might exult on first hearing — are writing for everyone again.
The accessibility of this album has led some commentators to suggest that is represents a remembrance of things past. Nostalgia is certainly evident in the harmonies, re-emphasized backbeat and simplified melodic lines the Beatles are using now. Resurrecting “Rubber Soul” would be a very fashionable move in a year when every pop star is digging up his garden in search of viable roots. But the similarities between this album and the early Beatles are superficial — and intentionally so. What the Beatles are really attempting to revive here is the spontaneous vitality of their earlier songs. They mean to project a sense of the immediate, the makeshift and the incomplete — all missing from their recent work. As John Lennon says, “I write lyrics that you din’t realize what they mean until after… It’s like abstract art, really… When you think about it, it just means you labored at it.”
But simplicity can be deceptive, especially when Lennon plays the simpleton. Over the years, the Beatles have refined their ingenuousness into an effective artistic tool. No song better reflects their whimsical ambiguity that “Julia.” It seems to be a tender lament, shrouded in a haunting melody. But its meaning in painfully personal as it is universal. Readers of the recently published Beatles’ biography will realize than John Lennon’s mother, who died when he was a teen-ager, was named “Julia”. Quite a reach for a simple ballad.
“The Beatles” overflows with similarly obscure intimacies. Sometimes, these referencies are sly, as in Paul McCartney’s song “Martha, My Dear,” written for his dog. Sometimes they are self-deflating. In “Glass Onion,” John declares:
I told you all about the Walrus and me — man
You know we’re as close as can be — man
Well here’s another clue for you all
The Walrus was Paul
Even more effective is the album’s burlesque of musical forms. In the respect “The Beatles” is almost a mock-history of pop. “Back In The U.S.S.R.” is a rock primer, quoting the Jefferson Airplane, the Beach Boys, Jerry Lee Lewis and Ray Charles.
There are also thinly veiled “tributes’ to Tim Hardin and Tiny Tim. Bob Dylan is specifically mentioned in “Yer Blues,” a song which seems so inflated that I prefer to hear it as a parody of white blues (“The eagle picks my eye / The worm he licks my bone / I feel so suicidal / Just like Dylan’s Mister Jones”).
But the Beatles burlesque is always tinged with affection. “Rocky Raccoon,” with its playful cowboy charm, could almost have been written by Dylan, were he an optimist. “Happiness Is A Warm Gun” is a breezy recollection of the violent sexuality in early rock. Even the condemnation in “Revolution,” which seems so unequivocal, is tempered by that soothing refrain, “It’s gonna be all right.”
Sometimes — when the game becomes too exuberant or the burlesque too arcane — the Beatles fail. There are a few unqualified bummers on this album. George Harrison’s four songs are as saccharine as any he has ever written. “Revolution No. 9” is an aleatory drag. And “honet Pir” is about authentic as a gas lamp in the Pan Am Building.
But this album is so vast in its scope, so intimate in its detail, and so skillful in its approach, that even the flaws add to it’s flavor.
Richard Goldstein | The New York Times
8 December 1968
The White Album: Mono vs Stereo
It’s been said the most frustrating of the Beatles’ studio albums is also the most frustrating when comparing mixes. The sheer volume and diversity of the music means that it will vary from song to song as to which version is better. “Dear Prudence” and “Happiness is a Warm Gun” sound absolutely perfect in mono, but the acoustic guitar in the background has much more impact on the stereo mix. The mono mix also features a version of “Helter Skelter” that is a minute shorter and far more cluttered than the stereo mix. But there are enough positives for each mix that it’s worth keeping both around.
The White Album is literally a toss up when it comes to mono vs stereo. This is the album that every fan should own both versions of – because literally, some songs sound better on mono, some sound better on stereo. For instance, I noticed on “The Continuing Story Of Bungalow Bill” the bass is a little too loud, and the guitar bits are more muffled on the mono version. On the flip side tho, the vocals sound much better. So a bit of a trade off. “Happiness Is A Warm Gun” always sounded strange on the stereo mix to me. Especially if you have headphones on. The mono delivers a much better sounding version of the song, and this is a good example of why you need to own both version. So to sum up it up: there are moments when the mono version is clearly better – where the drums smack with ferocity and the vocals sound beautiful. But on the same note, there are also times where the stereo mix breathes better – especially on “Helter Sketer”.
The Mono/Stereo Differences
Back In The U.S.S.R.
The airplane overdubs occur in different places on the mono and stereo versions. The Mono version has louder piano, a yell after the opening plane sound, and drumbeats under the closing plane sound. The Stereo version has extra guitar chords at the start of the solo, and shouts and piano during the guitar solo.
Stereo version has slightly more treble and fades to a lower volume at the end.
The edit adds the end orchestral piece. Stereo [a] is lacking Paul’s added vocal “oh yeah” at the end of the break. Mono mix [c] has various sound effects, of which only the whistle after “fool on the hill” was used in the standard mix.
The stereo version has hand-clapping during the intro, the mono version does not. On the mono mix, Paul’s vocals are not double-tracked as they sound to be on the stereo mix which gives the allusion of two or more Pauls singing at once.
While My Guitar Gently Weeps
The stereo version has some vocal sounds from George at the end, the mono version does not. The Clapton guitar remains loud in mono version after the solo break, not in the Stereo version. Near the end of the fadeout only the stereo [b] has “yeah yeah yeah”, even though it is a few second shorter than [a].
The bird sound effects are quite different between the stereo and the mono release.
The pig sound effects are quite different between the stereo and the mono release. The guitar is louder in the mono version.
Don’t Pass Me By
The mono version is much faster than the stereo, and therefore is shorter. The violin sounds at the end are markedly different. Mono [a] runs faster, and it has more fiddle throughout the song, and different fiddle at the end. The fiddle at the end of stereo [b] seems to a repeat of a bit of the chorus. The edit added the intro. Stereo [c] has only work from 5 and 6 June without the fiddle or intro added in July. It’s at the speed of the stereo mix [b].
Why Don’t We Do It In The Road
The stereo version has hand-clapping during the intro, the mono version does not.
The stereo version has two taps on the tambourine during the intro, the mono version only has one.
The stereo version has a fade-out/fade-in dummy ending with Ringo’s shout of “I’ve got blisters on my fingers”, the mono version does not ! … this makes the stereo version almost a minute longer. The basic song runs about 3:10 to a pause shortly after Paul’s distorted vocal, too close to the microphone. The Mono version then is edited into more of the same take, with sound effects noises, and fades at 3:36. Stereo version is edited instead to a different part of the take, fading out and then back in again, with another edit, ending finally at 4:29 after Ringo shouts “I’ve got blisters on my fingers!”. Is the distorted vocal “Can you hear me speaking– woo!” or “My baby is sleeping, ooh!, dreaming”?
Long, Long, Long
The stereo version is fine, but on the mono, George’s double-tracked vocal is embarrassingly out of synch.
The stereo version has a shorter guitar solo than the mono version.
Although the mono was made from the stereo, the opening lines are more clear in mono: “I would’ve gotten claret for you but I’ve realized I’ve forgotten all about it, George, I’m sorry. Will you forgive me?”. This is evidently a separate piece of tape added during mixing.
Everybody’s Got Something To Hide (Except Me and My Monkey)
The screaming after “come on” in the last verse is different in the Stereo and Mono versions.
The song was deliberately distorted during recording and mixing, so since the mono version sounds more distorted and compressed, it’s better! John’s guitar also sounds louder in mono version.
The 2d generation tape is an edit of two takes, each of the two tapes being itself a mixdown from the original 4-track. The edit causes an abrupt transition at the end of the guitar solos. In stereo, traces of other vocal and guitar parts can be heard throughout the song in the left channel, including something shouted over parts of the vocal and what sounds like another different guitar solo. After the edit, the trace lead vocal suggests we are hearing the first part of the song from the other take. The edit in the mixes added the countdown intro, which is louder in mono. The Mono version is 11 seconds longer, long fade.
This started as 4 track and was copied to 8 track, so it’s 2d generation. The “bass” (vocal) starts later in mono [a], after the first verse. The stereo version has more prominent bongos.
The last “daaaance” starts twice, maybe a double-track error or a leak from a guide vocal, as heard on stereo [b], but covered up by other sound in Mono version. The stereo version has extra vocals at the end of the second chorus.
Happiness Is A Warm Gun
The 2d generation master is an edit of (copies of) two takes with more material overdubbed. Mono [a] has tapping (organ) on the beat from the start until the drums come in, but it is soft and mixed out 4 beats earlier in [b]. In the “I need a fix” section in stereo [b], by error, although the first line was mixed out, the last “down” is just audible. Mono [a] has louder bass in the “I need a fix” section. Mono [a] has laughter near the very end, just before the last drumbeat, not heard in [b].
Mono [a] has the full lead guitar break, slightly shortened in the Stereo Version.
Mono [a] has sound effects during the instrumental break, and the lead guitar continues through the break into the refrain after it. The organ is missing from the last verse in the Mono Version.
Long Long Long
Doubletracking starts at the first “long” in stereo [a], the third “long” in [b], and sounds somewhat different thereafter. In mono [b] the rhythm guitar is softer but the lead guitar is louder, especially in the later part of the song.
I’m So Tired
Paul’s harmony at the first “You’d say” is louder in mono [a]. The muttering after the song is part of this recording.
Verdict: Toss Up! (This is the definitive album where listeners should own both the mono and the stereo version of it. Some songs sound better on mono and vice versa).
Conclusion: Chances are that you are wondering what box set is “right for you”. The mono box set entices you because purists will always say that mono “is how the Beatles always intended” them to be heard. Then there is the fact that the mono box set is “limited”. However, we found that the Stereo far outperformed the Mono versions. There were only a couple albums that we could see ourselves arguing as being definitively better on mono. Taking all that into consideration, it’s hard to justify paying $40-60 more for a box set that not only has less content (it doesn’t include Abbey Road, Let It Be, Yellow Submarine, or the DVD documentaries), but overall doesn’t sound as good as the Stereo versions. It is true that mono was originally how most of these album were recorded. But they never sounded better then they do now with the Stereo remasters that will have you listening to the Beatles like you have never before.
There are many differences between the Stereo and Mono versions of The White Album. (The Mono mix of the White Album was only available in Great Britain, it was never released in mono in the US.) The mono version of the song Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da is missing the hand clapping that can be heard in all other mixes of the song. Why Don’t We Do It In The Road?, like the Mono version of Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da is missing the hand clapping at the beginning of the song.
What’s a Variation, and Why Do We Care?
One part of being a music fan is playing favorite recordings over and over. Like many people, I’ve found that I have memorized many small nuances of the performance on record. Sometimes, when listening to an old song on a new disk, I’ll detect a difference in what is otherwise a very familiar recording. There may be a voice or instrument in one version that is not in the other, for example. This is a variation. Just when people started noticing Beatles variations is lost in the mists of time, but by the end of the Beatles’ recording career as a group in 1970, lists of variations had become a perennial topic among some fans.
One’s credentials as a Beatles fan need not rest on whether one can recognize most of the variations. Plenty of genuine fans feel this is one of the most obsessive and boring topics imaginable, and would much rather discuss the meaning of the lyrics, the invention of the melody, or the relation of the song to the Beatles’ lives and times. But who cares about all that, eh? No no, that’s not what I mean…
The variations open the door a little bit into how the recordings were made and prepared for release. The differences tell us something about how the sound was fixed on tape and what the engineers did to make records out of them. At least, they tell us something if we care to ask how the variations happened.
Hasn’t this “been done”? Well you may ask. Beatles Variations Lists have certainly appeared before. One reason to compile a list is simply to collate all the previous work on this topic. When it was suggested I put together something about variations, though, I was dissatisfied at simply rehashing old lists. Aside from the copyright violations (not that it’s stopped writers of some of the books I’ve seen while researching this) it did seem a little boring as well. Nearly all of them are just lists.
There are two reasons I’ve done this. Firstly- Collating existing lists does not result in a good list. I found by listening that many of the variations were not well described. Although I decided to be nice and not make this a catalog of the failings of other sources, a few instances are so wildly wrong that I did mention them. There were times when I wondered whether the writers had even heard the record they were describing. The amount of mindless copying from one print source to another has to be seen to be believed. I found that I had to go listen for myself, and quiz people closely to be sure they heard what they said they did on rare disks I couldn’t get hold of.
Secondly- I wanted to understand why they vary. The only list that relates variations to what we know about the recording sessions is a series of articles by Steve Shorten in “The 910”, which was unfortunately limited by space to highlights. As Steve noted in his first article, the publication of Mark Lewisohn’s book “The Beatles Recording Sessions” in 1988 provided an important framework on which to base an improved listing of variations. For the first time, we had specific information about dates of recording (some of which had been known) and of mixing (none of which had been known, I think). This made it possible to look for variations based on how many times a song was mixed at EMI Abbey Road, instead of the hopeless method of listening to every record released in the world.
Not only is “The Beatles Recording Sessions” a goldmine of information, but Lewisohn lacked the space or inclination to apply his data to the problem of variations. He even calls some mixes unused based on nonappearance in England. Tom Bowers and I did some work on finding those in 1991, reported in the Usenet group rec.music.beatles. It became clear that most of the mixes had been used somewhere, and they accounted for some of the variations that had been spotted previously.
Mark’s excellent work also provides enough information to figure out just how the variants arose. Some of them, especially the earlier ones recorded in 2-track, are editing differences, while others are differences in how the multi-track master tapes were mixed down for record.
Let me emphasize that, with just a very few exceptions, the mono version of a Beatles song is not the stereo version combined into one channel. On the contrary, George Martin mixed for mono first in almost all cases and then did a stereo mix separately. Right here we have a reason for variations, since the same edits and mixing had to be done twice. In some cases there are two or more mono or stereo mixes, providing yet more chances for variations.
The mixes were supposed to sound the same, usually. However, his practice of making separate mono and stereo mixes shows that George Martin did care about how the record would sound in both finished forms, and he may have deliberately mixed some songs differently. Other times, small things are fixed in one mix and overlooked in another, or difficult editing may be done a little better in one of the attempts. George Martin and staff weren’t perfect. That they had problems mixing songs the way they wanted makes the recording process seem a little less mechanical to me.
Obviously the mono and stereo mixes of any song are different. One is mono and one is stereo! Besides that, careful comparison of the mono mix to the stereo mix played as mono would doubtless turn up some differences in emphasis. But what we’re really after here in a variations list is larger game: different edits, sound mixed out in one version, different stereo images, and so on– things that are really noticeable. Well, maybe I stretch the limits on “really noticeable” at times. Forget the ones that seem trivial to you.
Aside from the dubious contribution of Capitol Records USA, I’m not, mostly, listing atrocities performed outside EMI Abbey Road. They’re not genuine, just stupid mistakes mastering records– speed problems, premature fadeouts, defects in tapes, even editing– and the ever-popular mock stereo. Nobody around the Beatles authorized them. Even Capitol is included just out of parochial interest to me and to the large contingent of fans in the USA– although I could argue Capitol’s work is of more than local interest since some other affiliates such as Odeon (Germany) got masters from Capitol. Capitol certainly doesn’t begin and end the tampering stories– there’s that “Penny Lane” from Brazil with a line edited out for no known reason, a “Devil in her Heart” from Mexico with the very end faded off… but I digress. If you live outside the USA, I invite you to catalog your own country’s label’s lack of judgement.
The White Album is my favorite album ever (by The Beatles or anyone else.) I love it because of all of the different styles of music on it. I love it because of all of the brilliant songs. I love it because of it’s imperfections (“Don’t Pass Me By” comes to mind.) And yes, I love “Revolution #9.”
The Last Beatles Album Mixed In Mono
For most of The Beatles career mono was the standard and the stereo mix was something that was done as an afterthought. The band (and the producers and engineers) worked to get the mono mix just perfect and then would throw together the stereo mix rather quickly, sometimes in a very experimental fashion (as stereo was still very new, people were trying things out to see what worked.) But by 1968 mono was getting phased out and The White Album was The Beatles final album mixed in mono. Their last three albums (Yellow Submarine,
Never Released In The US In Mono
In the US mono had already been phased out and so only the stereo mix of the The White Album was released in the US while in the UK both the mono and stereo versions were released.
My Favorite Album Of All Time
My favorite album of all time, The Beatles self-titled double album turns 48 today. It was released on November 22nd of 1968 and while it is officially titled simply The Beatles, it is best known as “The White Album.”
While it’s not as flawless as Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, Revolver, or Abbey Road. I think it’s spectacular variety makes it the most interesting listen over the long term. I’ve been listening to The White Album frequently since I first discovered it 35 years ago. And even now, 35 years later, I still discover new things about it. Songs that I used to think were dragging the album down a bit are now among my favorites. It’s an album that has just continued to grow on me over the years.
Many have argued that The White Album should have been cut down to a single album. That some of the album’s less perfect songs such as “Bungalow Bill” & “Don’t Pass Me By” could (and should) have been axed along with the experimental avant-garde “Revolution #9.” In fact the Beatles’ producer (George Martin) himself has made that argument.
I strongly disagree with that point of view. A great part of what gives the album it’s endearing charm are these songs that would have been chopped to make it into a single album. While I don’t listen to “Revolution #9” every time I play the album, I do enjoy listening to it when I’m in the mood. It’s an experience like none other.
While “Don’t Pass Me By” is definitely among The Beatles worst songs, it still has some charm. In a way it’s charming almost because it’s not such a great song. It’s neat to hear the other Beatles try to give life to Ringo’s less than stellar tune.
And how about songs like Paul McCartney’s great “Why Don’t We Do It In The Road?” & “Piggies.” These are songs that would be unlikely to make such a single album version and yet I find them to be extraordinarily interesting. Some people would call songs like these “filler” just because they are not hit singles. I would say to people like that: “Open your ears & your mind.” Put away your Beatles 1 CD and put in The White Album. It may be a more difficult listen at first but it’s also a far more rewarding one in the long term.
Not that The White Album doesn’t have some “hits” as well. Songs like “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” “Birthday,” “Back in the USSR,” & “Ob-la-di, Ob-la-da” among the Beatles’ most well-known and well-loved songs. “Blackbird” & “I Will” are certainly among The Beatles most beautiful songs.
The White Album is my favorite album of all time. Not despite any imperfections and not because of them either, but because of the album as a whole. It’s an incredible journey through many different types of music. So many different styles but the one common thread is The Beatles amazing songwriting talent. Whether it is “Helter Skelter” or “Julia.” “Happiness is a Warm Gun” or “Martha My Dear.” This is brilliant music that has definitely stood the test of time.
Happy Birthday to The White Album! Not all music sounds so good when it hits it's 48th anniversary!