Monday, April 28, 2014

The Beatles (The White Album)


 "..the 'White' and the 'Whiter' albums."- Ringo Starr
Recording: 20 May, 1968 - 17 October, 1968
Released: 22 November, 1968 (UK)
                 25 November, 1968 (US)
Producers: George Martin, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Chris Thomas
Engineers: Geoff Emerick, Peter Brown, Ken Scott, Ken Townsend, Barry Sheffield
John Lennon: Vocals, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, bass guitar, piano, organ, Hammond organ, harmonica, tenor saxophone, drums, tape loops, effects, samples, handclaps, harmonium, timpani
Paul McCartney: Vocals, bass guitar, six-string bass guitar, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, piano, organ, Hammond organ, electric piano, recorder, drums, tambourine, bongos, percussion, hand clapps, fl├╝gelhorn
George Harrison: Vocals, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, bass guitar, Hammond organ, drums, percussion, samples, handclaps
Ringo Starr: Vocals, drums, tambourine, bongos, castanets, sleigh bell, maracas, percussion, effects, handclaps
George Martin: piano, celesta, harmonium
Mal Evans: backing vocals, trumpet, handclaps
Pattie Harrison, Maureen Starkey, Jackie Lomax, John McCartney, Francie Schwartz, Ken Barrie, Mike Redway, Ingrid Thomas, Pat Whitmore, Ross Gilmor, Fred Lucas, Irene King, Val Stockwell: backing vocals
Yoko Ono: Vocals, effects, samples, handclaps
Eric Clapton: lead gutiar
Chris Thomas: Piano, Mellotron, harpsichord, organ, electric piano

Background information:
"I think by 1968 we were all a bit exhausted, spiritually."- Paul McCartney, Anthology
In January of 1968 George was asked to work on the soundtrack for a film called Wonderwall. The album would not only become the first solo Beatle album but the first LP that the groups new company, Apple, would release. The album was released on the 1 November, 1968 (UK) and 2 December, 1968 (US). It was recorded in between London and Bombay where George had become the producer, writer, and arranger of the album that consisted of nineteen tracks.

Rishikesh
It was also during this time that The Beatles had tried meditation again, due to the quick vacation from it in August of 1967 from the unexpected passing of their manager. This time the band went to India to study Transcendental Meditation for a couple of months at a camp that was run by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. George had become interested in the Indian culture and music after seeing a sitar on the set of The Beatles second film, Help! He had then later met Ravi Shankar, an Indian artist who quickly became close friends and a mentor to George.
"...And because George was so into Indian music, the natural thing was to ask: 'Well, what is this meditation lark? do they levitate? Can they really fly? can the snake-charmer really climb up the rope?' It was really just pure enquiry, and after we met Maharishi and thought about it all, we went out to Rishikesh."- Paul McCartney
The camp was located in the holy Valley of the Saints and spread out a total of 14 acres. They stayed in the Yogi capital of the world, Rishikesh surrounded by jungle at the foothills of the Himalayas. George described Rishikesh as "an incredible place, situated where the Ganges flows out of the Himalayas into the plains between the mountains and Delhi."

George and John with their wives Pattie and Cynthia were the first to go arriving in Delhi on 16 February, 1968, followed by Paul and his girlfriend Jane Asher, Ringo and his wife Maureen four days later,
"...then Richard followed with fifteen Sherpas carrying Heinz baked beans."- George Harrison, Anthology
Ringo wasn't into the Indian food so he brought crates of eggs and baked beans to keep him satisfied for his trip.

At the camp The Beatles were accompanied by singer, Donovan Leitch; Beach Boy, Mike Love; actress Mia Farrow and her sister Prudence;Mal Evans, Peter Brown, Neil Aspinall, 'Magic' Alex Mardas;  Jazz flautist Paul Horn; Gyp "Gypsy Dave" Mills; Pattie's sister, Jenny Boyd; actors Tom Simcox and Jerry Tovin; and others.  During their stay the days were filled with meditation and lectures by the Maharishi himself. Vegetarian meals were served in a communal dining area where food would be taken by neighboring animals like monkeys and crows;
"We had breakfast outside and monkeys used to come and steal the bread. After breakfast, we'd usually have a morning of meditation in groups, on the roof. Then after lunch we'd do the same."- Ringo Starr, Anthology
The Beatles had private lessons and had found the Maharishi helpful. It seemed that John and George were the most intrigued in the Maharishi's teachings;
"The way George is going he will be flying on a magic carpet by the time he's forty."- John Lennon
"One day Maharishi needed to get to New Delhi and back for something, so someone suggested a helicopter. When it arrived we all trooped down, a bouncing line of devotees, coming down a narrow dusty track to the Ganges, singing, being delightful. Very like the Hare Krishnas, marvellous, chatting away. We got down ot the Ganges, the helicopter landed and then they asked, ‘Does anyone want a quick go before Maharishi takes off?’ John jumped up. ‘Yea, yea, yeah, yeah!’ John got there first, and there was only room for one.
So later I asked John, ‘Why were you so keen? You really wanted to get in that helicopter.’ ‘Yeah,’ he said, ‘I thought he might slip me the answer!’ Which is very revealing about John. I suppose everyone is always looking for the Holy Grail. I think John thought he might find it. I think it shows an innocence really, a naivety. It’s quite touching really."- Paul McCartney
Ringo and Maureen
Ringo had left early, Paul saying he's a "very British lad". His wife was petrified of the insects and Ringo couldn't handle the food, it made him sick and one can only eat so much eggs. In fact at one point he noticed that workers at the camp were burying the egg shells, it turned out that eggs weren't allowed in this religious ashram.
"We came home because we missed the children. I wouldn't want anyone to think we didn't like it there. I said it was like Butlins holiday camp, we had learnt by then you could say anything and they'd print it. It was a good experience - it just didn't last as long for me as it did for them."- Ringo Starr
McCartney left after a month concluding that he had understood it and if he wanted to get heavily into meditation he could do it anywhere he wanted.  Jane and Paul left on 26 March to look after The Beatles new business, Apple.
"Ringo only went for a couple of weeks - maybe just to put his toe in the water and see what it was like. Paul just came and went."- George Harrison, Anthology
In 1966 John Lennon had met artist, Yoko Ono (to read about their first meeting click here), at first he dismissed her as a crazy artist but following their meeting John and Yoko had kept a close relationship which lead John's wife, Cynthia to wonder what was going on.  John even debated about taking Yoko to India but didn't know how it would turn out having Cynthia, who was already skeptical about the two and then having his new inspiration together. Two weeks into the Lennon's stay in India, John had asked for the two to live separately. Cynthia had taken the time to write poetry, draw and focus on her meditation. John spent his time writing songs, meditating, and writing letters to Yoko Ono where he got daily replies with comments like;
"Look up at the sky and when you see a cloud think of me."
 At the beginning of April rumors of the Maharishi making passes at his young female students, including Farrow, had lead to John and George leaving the camp on 12 April.
"A couple of weeks before we were due to leave, Magic Alex accused the Maharishi of behaving improperly with a young American girl, who was a fellow student. Without allowing the Maharishi an opportunity to defend himself, John and George chose to believe Alex and decided we must all leave.
I was upset. I had seen Alex with the girl, who was young and impressionable, and I wondered whether he – whom I had never once seen meditating – was being rather mischievous. I was surprised that John and George had both chosen to believe him. It was only when John and I talked later that he told me he had begun to feel disenchanted with the Maharishi’s behavior. He felt that, for a spiritual man, the Maharishi had too much interest in public recognition, celebrities and money."- Cynthia Lennon, John
"Someone started the nasty rumor about the Maharishi, a rumor that swept the media for years. There were many stories about how Maharishi was not on the level or whatever, but that was just jealousy about Maharishi. We'd need to analysts to get into it. I don't know what goes through these people's minds, but this whole piece of bullshit was invented. It's probably even in the history books that Maharishi 'tried to attack Mia Farrow' - but it's bullshit, total bullshit. Just go and ask Mia Farrow."- George Harrison, Anthology
John and Cynthia returned back home to England while George and Pattie stayed with Ravi Shankar in Madras till 21 April.

Donovan and John
During The Beatles stay they had written a substantial amount of songs for their new album.  Singer/Songwriter Donovan had helped in some way, teaching John a finger picking technique that would be used in "Dear Prudence" and "Julia". All, if not most of the songs featured on The White Album were written during their
meditation training.


By 1968 The Beatles had recorded nine studio albums, finished up their touring, unfortunately loosing their beloved manager, created their own company, honored with MBEs, picked up meditation, had three movies (working on their fourth), changed music in their own way and much more. In May the group returned back to the studio to record their first double- length  album; The Beatles, which would later be known and called The White Album, which would last thirty-three minutes, forty-three seconds containing thirty songs:
  1. Back in the U.S.S.R
  2. Dear Prudence
  3. Glass Onion
  4. Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da
  5. Wild Honey Pie
  6. The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill
  7. While My Guitar Gently Weeps
  8. Happiness Is A Warm Gun
  9. Martha My Dear
  10. I'm So Tired
  11. Blackbird
  12. Piggies
  13. Rocky Raccoon
  14. Don't Pass Me By
  15. Why Don't We Do It In The Road
  16. I Will
  17. Julia

  1. Birthday
  2. Yer Blues
  3. Mother Nature's Son
  4. Everybody's Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey
  5. Sexy Sadie
  6. Helter Skelter
  7. Long, Long, Long
  8. Revolution 1
  9. Honey Pie
  10. Savoy Truffle
  11. Cry Baby Cry
  12. Revolution 9
  13. Good Night
There were some concerns about releasing the album as a double, George Martin stating;
"I thought we should probably have made a very, very good single album rather than a double. But they insisted. I think it could have been made fantastically good if it had been compressed a bit and condensed. A lot of people I know think it's still the best album they made. I later learnt that by recording all those songs they were getting ride of  their contract with EMI more quickly."
Back in the U.S.S.R

Paul McCartney's attempt to right a song based around The Beach Boys style. In fact the song got help from Beach Boys, Mike Love, who was in India with The Beatles at Meditation camp.
Pattie Boyd, Mike Love, and Jane Asher in Inida
"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."- Paul McCartney, 1968
During the white album Ringo Starr took a break from recording and quit The Beatles for a short vacation, leaving Paul to take his place as drummer, drumming on this track.

Dear Prudence

Prudence Farrow
Mia Farrow and her sister Prudence attened the Meditation camp while The Beatles were there. Prudence had had the need to reach or teach God quicker than everybody else so she locked herself in a room trying to meditate for almost all hours of the day; John stated that  reaching God almost became a competition around the camp
"Prudence meditated and hibernated. We saw her twice in the two weeks I was there. Everyone would be banging on the door: 'Are you still alive?"- Ringo Starr, Anthology
John Lennon and George Harrison became the two people Prudence trusted while they were at the camp.  The two would try to help Prudence and speak to her to help her get out of this state.
George and John; India
"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 her were very worried about the girl because she was going insane. So we sang to her."- John Lennon, 1979
[On 7 February, 2014  I attended Beatles Fest in New York City where I saw Prudence Farrow speak about the song. She admitted that she was a bit frightened at first at the news that The Beatles had written a song about her because they had written a few things that were a bit unflattering towards other people. When she finally heard the song she said she was completely relieved and thought it was a beautiful.]

Glass Onion

A song that confused many of The Beatles fans with lines like "Here's another clue for you all, The Walrus was Paul", which lead to another clue in The Paul Is Dead Rumor; walrus symbolizing Death in many European countries.The song also consists of lyrics or ideas from their previous songs, mentioning Lady Madonna, Strawberry Fields, The Fool on The Hill, Fixing a Hole.
"'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.'
Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da

Paul McCartney
A happy, upbeat, Reggae kind of song , simply stating; Life Goes On. The title came from Jimmy Scott and his Obla Di Obla Da Band.
"A fella who used to hang around the clubs used to say in a Jamacian 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." -Paul McCartney
The song wasn't a favourite amoungst the other Beatles, John disliking it and George poking at it in his song, Savoy Truffle;
"What's sweet now turns so sour
We all know Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da
But can you show me, where you are?"

Wild Honey Pie 

The song only featured Paul McCartney

While in India a hunter by the name of Richard A Cooke and wife Bronwhyn had gone into a room to ask the Maharishi if it was a sin to kill a tiger, John and George were present in the room during their conversation where the Maharishi replied
"Life destruction is Life destruction."
"A sort of teenage social- comment song and a bit of a joke"- John Lennon

"Around the time of writing While My Guitar Gently Weeps I had a copy of the "I Ching- the (Chinese) Book of Changes' which seemed to me to be based on the Eastern concept that everything is relative to everything else, as opposed to the Western view that things are merely coincidental.
This idea was in my head when I visited my parents' house in the North of England. I decided to write a song based on the first thing I saw upon opening any book - as it would be relative to that moment, at that time. I picked up a book at random - opened it - saw 'Gently weeps' - then laid the book down again ad started the song. Some of the words to the song were changed before I finally recorded it- as can be seen here:
I look at the trouble
and hate that is raging
While my guitar gently weeps
While I'm sitting here
Doing nothing but ageing "
- George Harrison, I Me Mine
Eric Clapton, close friend to George's, played lead guitar on the track but at first didn't want to intrude in the rest of the group. George convinced him by telling him that it's his own song and he wanted Eric to play lead on it.
George Harrison and Eric Clapton
"So he came in. I said, 'Eric's going to play on this one,' and it was good because that made everyone act better."- George Harrison
"Eric showed up and he was very nice, very accommodating and humble and a good player. He got wound up and we all did it. It was good fun actually. His style fitted very well with the song and I think was keen to have him play - which was nice of George because he could have played it himself and then it would have been him on the big hit."- Paul McCartney

Happiness Is A Warm Gun
"It's sort of a history of Rock 'n' Roll."- John Lennon
The name for the song came from the National Rifle Association who's slogan was "Happiness Is A Warm Gun".
"Fantastic, insane... a warm gun means you've shot something."- John Lennon
The song was later banned from the BBC for assumption of sexually symbolism.

Martha My Dear

A song solely written for Paul's beloved dog, Martha.

I'm So Tired

 Blackbird

Paul wrote Blackbird about the civil rights movement,
"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."- Paul McCartney, Mojo 2008
Piggies

"Piggies is a social comment. I was stuck for one line in the middle until my mother came up with the lyric What they need is a damn good whacking! ( a damned good throttling) which is a nice simple way of saying they need a good hiding. It needed to rhyme with 'backing', 'lacking' and had absolutely nothing to do with American policemen or Californian shagnasties!
You can see from the facsimile that an extra verse was written but not used:
Everywhere there's lots of piggies
Playing piggie pranks
You can see them on their trotters
At the piggy banks
Paying piggy thanks
To thee pig brother "
-George Harrison, I Me Mine

Rocky Raccoon

In a 2008 interview with Mojo Paul speaks about the song as,
"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."
 The idea for the song took place in India with John Lennon and Donovan Leitch

Don't Pass Me By

The first song Ringo wrote that was featured on a Beatles album.
"I wrote 'Don't Pass Me By' when  I was sitting round at home. I only played three chords on the guitar and three on the piano. I was fiddling with the piano - I just bang away - and then if a melody comes and some words. I just have to keep going. That's how It happened. I was just sitting at home alone and 'Don't Pass Me By' arrived. We played it with a country attitude. It was great to get my first song down, one that I had written. It was a very exciting time for me and everyone was really helpful, and recording that crazy violinist was a thrilling moment."- Ringo Starr

Why Don't We Do It In The Road 
"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 monkey just hopping on and off. There is an urge, they do it, and it's done with. It's that simple." -Paul McCartney
The song was recorded only by Paul and Ringo.

I Will

Julia

A song John wrote in remembrance of his mother, Julia.

Birthday
"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.'"- Paul McCartney, Mojo 2008
Yer Blues

Using the word "Yer" instead of "Your" to make sure people didn't take it too seriously.
Feel so suicidal, just liked Dylan's Mr. Jones
came from Bob Dylan's The Ballad of a Thin Man.
"We were just in an 8 foot room, with no separation, just doing what we do best: playing." -Ringo Starr, Rolling Stone where he claims that the recording session was one of his all time favorites.
The song was written in India where John found it funny how as he was trying to connect with God but writing songs with the lines "So lonely, want to die", because that's what he felt.

Mother Nature's Son 

Paul McCartney recorded the song by himself.

"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."- Paul McCartney, Mojo 2008 explaining the differences between Mother Nature's Son and Nat King Cole's Nature Boy





Everybody's Got Something To Hide Except For Me And My Monkey
"About me and Yoko. Everybody seemed to be paranoid except for us two, who were in the glow of love."- John Lennon

Sexy Sadie

John wrote the song about the Maharishi after finding out about the rumors of the Maharishi trying to rape Mia Farrow. Sexy was used to describe the Maharishi instead of John using his name in fear of being sued.
"John had a song he had started to write which he was singing: ‘Maharishi, what have you done?’ and I said, ‘You can’t say that, it’s ridiculous.’ I came up with the title of Sexy Sadie and John changed ‘Maharishi’ to ‘Sexy Sadie’. " -George Harrison, Anthology

Helter Skelter

Paul described himself wanting to write the "loudest, nastiest, sweatiest rock number we could". He also explains that he just liked to make noise.
"Helter Skelter was a track we did in total madness and hysterics in the studio. Sometimes you just had to shake out the jams and with that song - Paul's bass line and my drums - Paul started screaming and shouting and made it up on the spot."- Ringo Starr, Anthology


Long, Long Long

Ringo Starr and John Lennon
"The 'you' in Long Long Long is God. I can't recall much about it except the chords which I think were coming from Sad Eyed Lady of the Low Land- D to E minor, A and D - those three chords and the way they moved.
There was a bottle of 'Blue Nun' wine on top of the Leslie speaker during the recording and when our Paul hit some organ note the Leslie started vibrating and the bottle rattling. You can hear it on the record at the very end."- George Harrison, I Me Mine
Revolution 1

A slowed down version of The Beatles Revolution, which was not featured on this album, or any other Beatles studio albums put was released as a single with Paul's Hey Jude.
"I like the sound on 'Revolution'"- Paul McCartney, Anthology
John had written the song while the others were on a vacation.
"I wanted to put out what I felt about revolution. I thought it was about time we spoke about it, the same as I thought it was about time we stopped not answering about the Vietnamese War.
I had been thinking about it up in the hills in India. I still had this 'God will save us' feeling about it: 'It's going to be all right.' That's why i did it: I wanted to talk, I wanted to say my piece about revolutions. I wanted to tell you, or whoever listens, to communicate, to say, "What do you say? This is what i say.'"- John Lennon, 1979
John states that what he was trying to get across in all of the version's in Revolution was for people to change their heads.
"The statement in 'Revolution' was mine. The lyrics stand today. They're still my feeling about politics. I want to see the plan. That's what I used to say to Jerry Rubin and Abbie Hoffman. Count me out if it's for violence. Don't except me on the barricades unless its with flowers. As far as overthrowing something in the name of Marxism or Christianity, I want to know what you're going to do after you've knocked it down. I mean can't we use some of it? what's the point of bombing Wall Street? If you want to change the system, change the system. it's no good shooting people."- John Lennon, 1980
The Beatles preformed Revolution on The David Frost Show in 1968, the following is the video.


 Honey Pie
"Both John and I had a great love for music hall I very much liked the old crooner style - the strange fruity voice that they sued, 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."- Paul McCartney, Many years From Now
Savoy Truffle

Written about Eric Clapton's favorite dessert from Good News chocolates

"Savoy Truffle is a funny one written whilst hanging out with Eric Clapton in the sixties. At that time he had a lot of cavities in his teeth and needed dental work. He always had toothache but he ate a lot of chocolates - he couldn't resist them and once he saw a box he had to eat them all.
He was over at my house and I had a box of 'Good News' Chocolates on the table and wrote the song from the names inside the lid:
Creme Tangerine, Montelimar
A Ginger Sling with a Pineapple Heart
A Coffee Dessert
Yes you know it's Good News
But You'll have to have them all pulled out 
After the Savoy Truffle!
I got stuck with the two bridges for a while and Derek Taylor wrote some of the words in the middle... "You know that what you eat you are...."- George Harrison, I Me Mine
Cry Baby Cry

The original line came from an advertisement; Cry, Baby Cry, make your mother buy.. He had the slogan in his mind for a while but didn't think too much of it at the time saying, "It'll come back If I really want it." while in an interview with Hunter Davies.

The song had some inspiration from Donovan Leitch who wrote very fairytale tunes. The track was based around nursery rhymes like "Sing A Song of Sixpence" and "Cry, baby, Cry... stick a finger in your eye."

Revolution 9
"an unconscious picture of what I actually think will happen when it happens; that was just like a drawing of revolution. 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."- John Lennon, Rolling Stone
The track was a complete experiment written by John Lennon, Yoko Ono, and George Harrison and also took a huge part in the Paul Is Dead Rumor, claiming that if it was played backwards the words "Turn my on dead man" could be heard.

Good Night

A lullaby written by John for his son Julian but was recorded with Ringo's vocals.

John and Julian 1968
"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."- Paul McCartney, Many Years From  Now

In The Studio

A lot of stress were under The Beatles during the recording of this album, they had just lost their manager and had been looking to a new one. Also, they had started their company, Apple, which didn't take off as successful as they wanted it to be. The White Album started The Beatles separation including many factors that lead to Ringo taking  break from the band and the boys starting to record songs separately at home instead of together in the studio. Ringo had became a family man, George was becoming more interested in the spiritual things, Paul had become wrapped up in business with Apple and John had became joined at the hip with Yoko taking her everywhere.
"Now John had to have Yoko there. I can't blame him, they were intensely in love - in the first throes of the first passions -but it was fairly off-putting having her sitting on one of the amps. You wanted to say, 'Excuse me, love - can I turn the volume up?' We were always wondering how to say; ' Could you get off my amp?' without interfering with their relationship."- Paul McCartney, Anthology
"Yoko just moved in. Well, John moved in with Yoko - or she moved in with him - and from that point on they were never to be seen without each other (for the next few years at least). So she was suddenly in the band; she didn't start singing or playing, but she was there."- George Harrison, Anthology

Yoko had became the first outsider to be in the studio at all time which started a little bit of confusion at the beginning. She even had a bed that was placed in the studio under the piano where she'd stay as they recorded.She became John's new inspiration.



Things took a wrong turn when Ringo had decided to leave for a break.
"I left because I felt two things: I felt I wasn't playing great, and I also felt that  the other three were really happy and I was an outsider."
Ringo went to visit John where he told him that he was leaving,
"'I'm leaving the group because I'm not playing well and I feel unloved and out of it, and you three are really close.' and John said, 'I thought it was you three!'
So then I went over to Paul's and knocked on his door. I said the same thing: 'I'm leaving the band. I feel you three guys are really close and I"m out of it.' And Paul said, 'I thought it was you three!'"Ringo Starr, Anthology
At that point he announced that he just needed a holiday and went to Sardinia with his family.
"I love his drumming. Ringo is still one of the best drummers in rock."- John Lennon, 1972
During this holiday Ringo found himself on actor Peter Sellers yacht where the two discussed Octopuses; thus Octopus's Garden was born and would be featured on The Beatles Abbey Road album.


"I got a telegram saying, 'You're the best rock'n'roll drummer in the world. Come on home, we love you.' And so I came back we all needed that little shake-up. When I got back to the studio I found George had had it decked out with flowers - there were flowers everywhere. I felt good about myself again, we'd got through the little crisis and it was great. And then the 'White' album really took off- we all left the studio and went to a littler room so there was no separation and lots of group activity going down."- Ringo Starr, Anthology
Charles Manson
Charles Manson a murder and musician from California had taken The Beatles White Album in his own way;
"Look at the songs: songs sung all over the world by the young love. It ain’t nothin’ new… It’s written in… Revelation, all about the four angels programming the holocaust… the four angels looking for the fifth angel to lead the people into the pit of fire… right out to Death Valley. It’s all in black and white, in the White Album – white, so there ain’t no mistakin’ the color."- Charles Manson
One song he took a calling to was George's Piggies. Although George wrote the song as a social comment other took it as an anti-police statement which horrified George. Charles Manson took the line "damn good whacking" to mean against the police. During this time utensils like knives and forks were used to stab and murder people during the murders of Sharon Tate, Labiancas, and others; knives and forks being used in the lyrics of Piggies. Also, the word "pig" and "piggy" were written with victims blood smeared on walls.

Charles Manson who referred to the future war/revolution as Helter Skelter. Manson had then tried to start the movement by sending his followers into two homes, murdering whoever was there. In the victims blood he wouldn't just write "Pig" but also "Healter Skelter" (different spelling  from The Beatles track) .

In 1971 John Lennon was interviewed by Rolling Stone stating;
"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."


Charts

The album was released on 22 November in the UK. On 1 December the album had hit number one in UK chart spending twenty-four weeks in the charts and seven weeks at the top. In January the album dropped out of the charts being replaced by The Best Of The Seekers, but by early February it was back at number one for eight weeks.

25 November the album was released in the US where it debuted at number eleven then to number two, then to number one within the three weeks it was released. The album spent nine weeks at number one and one hundred-fifty five days in the Billboard 200.

Rording Industry Association of America says that The Beatles (White Album) is the best selling album by The Beatles at 19-times platinum and is also the tenth best selling album of all time in the United States.

Cover

The orginal name for the album was A Doll's House, after Henrik Ibsen's 1879 play. The orginal design showed a cartoon drawing of The Beatles with animals and a circle with Yoko Ono's face in it. The carton was created by John Byrne. The album name and cover was dropped due to the  British progressive band Family releasing an album by the name Music In A Doll's House, earlier that same year.

Richard Hamilton was a pop artist who created The White Album cover of just a plain cover with the bands name written plainly on it.  It was completely different from their last two albums like Sgt Peppers and Magical Mystery Tour.

"Since Sergeant Pepper was so over the top, I explained, ‘I would be inclined to do a very prissy thing, almost like a limited edition.’ He didn’t discourage me so I went on to propose a plain white album; if that were too clean and empty, then maybe we could print a ring of brown stain to look as if a coffee cup had been left on it – but that was thought a bit too flippant. I also suggested that they might number each copy, to create the ironic situation of a numbered edition of something like five million copies. This was agreed, but then I began to feel a bit guilty at putting their double album under plain wrappers; even the lettering is casual, almost invisible, a blind stamping. I suggested it could be jazzed up with a large edition print, an insert that would be even more glamorous than a normal sleeve."- Richard Hamilton


Saturday, April 12, 2014

Magical Mystery Tour

Recording: 25 April, 1967- 7 November,1967
Released: 27 April, 1967 (US) 8 December, 1967 (UK)
Producer: George Martin
Engineer: Geoff Emerick
Label: Parlophone
Studios: EMI Studios, Olympic Studios
John Lennon: Vocals, guitar, acoustic piano, electric piano, mellotron, organ, clavioline, harmonica
Paul McCartney: Vocals, piano, bass, mellotron, recorder
George Harrison: Vocals, guitar, organ, harmonica
Ringo Starr: drums, percussion.

In between the Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album release and the making and release of their ninth studio album, Magical Mystery Tour, The Beatles had been through a lot from their Our World performance to Transcendental Meditation to Apple and to the unexpected passing of their beloved manager, Brian Epstein.

Our World:
On 18 May, 1967 The Beatles signed a contact with the BBC to preform on the worlds first ever live television satellite that would be watched by five continents and an estimate of 400 million people.
"We were big enough to command an audience of that size, and it was for love. It was for love and bloody peace. It was a fabulous time. I even get excited now when I realise that's what it was for: peace and love, people putting flowers in guns."- Ringo Starr

With that power John Lennon had created one of the greatest and iconic songs of the century, "All You Need Is Love" and the show was aired on 25 June, 1967 spreading that message. The following video is The Beatles preforming "All You Need Is Love" on Our World.



Beginning of Transcendental Meditation:

Two years prior to the Magical Mystery Tour era John and George had had their Dental Experience  and Ringo had also experienced with the wonder drug known as LSD. McCartney on the other hand waited out on the drug but by 1967 had dropped acid and publicly announced it in an interview when he was asked the question if they've (The Beatles) had even taken it, speaking the truth he told it. It was already no secret that the group had been using marijuana since Bob Dylan introduced it to them in 1964.

It was 24 August, 1967 that The Beatles went to a seminar hosted by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi at the London Hilton on Park Lane where the group would find a new way to clear their mind and to a higher state other than drugs by learning the techniques and benefits of Transcendental Meditation.

After seeing the Maharishi in London the following day they decided to attended a ten day seminar in Bangor, Wales; Mick Jagger and girlfriend, Marianne Faithfull also attended.
 "You just sit there and let your mind go; it doesn't matter what you're thinking about, just let it go. And then you introduce the mantra, the vibration, to take over from the thought. You don't will it or use your will power."- John Lennon, 1967
Unfortunately The Beatles stay was cut short on 27 August


Brian Epstein's Death

Brian Epstein had been the bands manager since 1962. He had grown up with The Beatles and became one of them.

"We loved Brian. He was a generous man. We owe so much to him. We have come a long way with Brian along the same road."- Ringo Starr, 1967
 While The Beatles had taken their trip to Wales Brian had took a trip to the Sussex country with Peter Brown and Geoffrey Ellis.The weekend didn't turn out as planned for Brian, he was hoping for a man he had met to show up and the two of them to become better acquainted but he never showed. On Friday 25 August Brian returned from his country retreat, his butler Antonio and Antonio's wife, Maria recalls  Brian going straight to bed, very quiet.

The following day Antonio and Maria both heard nothing from Brian and decided just to let him rest and come back on Sunday afternoon, maybe he'd be better then. When they knocked on the door that Sunday with no response, no one wanted to go into the room alone in case something had happened so they called Peter Brown and Ellis hoping that they'd know something, when they didn't John Galaway, Brian's doctor, was called in. John and Antonio knocked down his bed room door to find Brian laying in bed motionless, as recalled by Joanne Newfield.

"I can't find words to pay tribute to him. It is just that he was loveable, and it is those lovable things we think about now."- John Lennon, 1967
The cause of his death was determined to be from pills and alcohol, It's not certain if it was a suicide attempt, because of how his country vacation turned out or if it's because without The Beatles touring there wasn't much for him to do with The Beatles. The Beatles all think that the idea of suicide is very hard to come to terms with and think that he just accidentally took too many pills. Paul McCartney explains his theory that Brian must of took a sleeping pill or something, fell asleep, woke up again and must of thought that he hadn't took a pill, so he took another and that was the cause of his death. John began to blame himself, saying he was the one who got him onto pills, uppers and downers and thought that that was the cause of his death.
"Maharishi told us not to hold onto Brian- to love him and let him go, because we are all powerful forces and we could stop him going on in the natural progression up to heaven. He said, 'You know you have to grieve for him and love him, and now you send him on his way.' And it really helped."- Ringo Starr





"He dedicated so much of his life to The Beatles. We liked and loved him. He was one of us. There is no such thing as death. It is a comfort to us all to know that he is OK."- George Harrison, 1967



"Brian would be really happy to hear how much we loved him"- Paul McCartney



"Brian has died in body, and his spirit will always be working with us. His power and force were everything and his force will linger on. When we were on the right track he knew it, and when we were on the wrong track her told us so- and he was usually right. But anyways he isn't really dead."- John Lennon, 1967


The album would become a soundtrack for The Beatles new project, Magical Mystery Tour film. One of their first projects, along with Apple, after Brian's passing.

 Tracklisting:
  1.  Magical Mystery Tour
  2. The Fool On The Hill
  3. Flying
  4. Blue Jay Way
  5. Your Mother Should Know
  6. I Am The Walrus
  7. Hello Goodbye
  8. Strawberry Fields Forever
  9. Penny Lane
  10. Baby You're a Rich Man
  11. All You Need Is Love
Magical Mystery Tour

The idea came from Mystery Tours, a popular tour in England where only the bust driver would know the destination.

The Fool On The Hill

The song came about while Paul was walking with Alistair Taylor and Paul's beloved dog, Martha on Promise Hill. The three came across a man who Alistair describes as 'very respectably dressed' and 'middle aged'.  The three chatted briefly about the weather and what not before Taylor and McCartney turned around for a quick second to look for Martha. When they turned around the man was gone, almost vanished.
"Paul and I both felt the same weird sensation that something special had happened. We sat down rather shakily on the seat and Paul said, 'what the hell do you make of that? That's weird. He was here. wasn't he? We did speak to him?" -Alistair Taylor, A Hard Days Write by Steve Turner

 Flying

A little over two minutes instrumental written by John, Paul,  George, and Ringo. The only Beatles song credited to all four Beatles.

Blue Jay Way

"Blue Jay Way was written at a time when I'd rented a house in Los Angeles on Blue Jay Way, and I'd arrive there from England. I was waiting around for Derek and Joan Taylor who were then living in L.A. I was very tired after the flight and the time change and I started writing, playing a little electric organ that was in the house for sometime. It had gotten foggy and they couldn't find the house for sometime. The mood is also slightly Indian. Derek Taylor is slightly Welsh."- George Harrison, I Me Mine

The song literally being about the Taylor's and about George wanting to go to bed;

There's a fog upon L.A.
And my friends have lost their way
We'll be over soon they said
Now they've lost themselves instead
Please don't be long please don't you be very long
Please don't be long for I may be asleep
 Your Mother Should Know
"I was basically trying to say your mother might know more than you think she does. Give her credit."- Paul McCartney
The song was written at McCartney's home on Cavendish Avenue on the harmonium.

I Am The Walrus
It was the first song the group recorded after the passing of Brian. 
"The look of emptiness on their faces when they were playing."- Geoff Emerick,  Music Engineer
 "The first line was written on one acid trip one weekend. The second line was written on the next acid trip the next weekend, and it was filled in after I met Yoko. Part of it was putting down Hare Krishna. All these people were going on about Hare Krishna, Allen Ginsberg in particular. The reference to 'Element'ry penguin' is the elementary, naive attitude of going around chanting, 'Hare Krishna,' or putting all your faith in any one idol. I was writing obscurely, a la Dylan, in those days."- John Lennon, Playboy
interview 1980
The idea for the song coming from Alice Through The Looking- Glass, a book John loved growing up. In the book there's a story about The Walrus and The Carpenter. In the same Playboy interview Lennon said;
"It never dawned on me that Lewis Carroll was commenting on the capitalist and social system. I never went into that bit about what he really meant, like people are doing with the Beatles' work. Later, I went back and looked at it and realized that the walrus was the bad guy in the story and the carpenter was the good guy. I thought, Oh, s--t, I picked the wrong guy. I should have said, 'I am the carpenter.' But that wouldn't have been the same, would it?"
Hello Goodbye

One of the bands most recognizable songs. The song came about when Alistair Taylor asked Paul how he wrote his songs and how he got the ideas. Paul then started on the harmonium and told Alistair to shout out the exact opposite of what he was saying, Paul would say black, Alistair would say white; yes and no; hello and goodbye; stop and go and so fourth.
"The answer to everything is simple. It's a good song about everything and nothing. If you have black you have to have white. That's the amazing thing about life."- Paul McCartney
 The Beatles created a video for the song dressed in their famous Sgt. Pepper's suits.
"I directed the promo film we made for 'Hello, Goodbye". Directing a film is something everyone always wants to get into. It was something I'd always been interested in, until I actually tried it. Then I realised it was too much like hard work. Someone summed it up when they said: 'There's always someone arriving saying: "Do you want the gold pistols or the silver pistols?"' then you think: 'Um, um....' There was so much of that going on - so many decisions to be made - that I ended up hating it.
I didn't really direct the film - all we needed was a couple of cameras, some good cameramen, a bit of sound and some dancing girls.I thought 'We'll hire a theatre and show up there one afternoon.' and that's what we did: we took our Sgt Pepper suits along and filmed at the Saville Theatre."- Paul McCartney
The following is the video;


Strawberry Fields Forever

Written about a Salvation Army home near where John had grown up with his Aunt Mimi and Uncle George on 251 Menlove Ave, Mendips. Mimi didn't like the idea of John playing or going near Strawberry Fields because it was essentially an orphanage and didn't want John to think back about his childhood, of his father leaving and his mother not living with him. The line "Nothing to get hung about" came from John arguing with his aunt saying, "what are they going to do hang me?"

The song was written on a beach in Spain while John was working on a film directed by Richard Lester, How I Won The War. The song was actually ready to be put on The Beatles previous album, Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, but didn't make it. A video was also made for this song where on break John had gotten his 'Being For The Benefit of Mr. Kite' poster. the following is the video;


The song later lead to suspects of The Paul is dead rumor, where at the end it sounds like John's saying "I buried Paul" but he's really saying, "Cranberry Sauce"

".... And Strawberry Field, just around the corner from that, an old Victorian house converted for Salvation Army orphans. (Apparently, it used to be a farm that made strawberries.) As a kid I used to go to their garden parties with my friends Ivan, Nigel, and Pete. We'd all go up there and hang out and sell lemonade bottles. We always had fun at Strawberry Field."-John Lennon, 1980

 Penny Lane

The song was written about Penny Lane, a street in Liverpool which was almost directly in between Paul and John's houses growing up. Paul would ride the number 89 bus around town, the song reflects exactly that and the places he saw. The shelter in the middle of the roundabout, the bankers getting ready for a trim refers to the barber shop all four Beatles got their hair cut and the bank right across the street. The fireman rushes in, the fire station is just around the corner,
The song was also ready to be released on Sgt. Pepper's;
"The only reasons that "Strawberry Fields Forever" and "Penny Lane" didn't go onto the new album was a feeling that if we issued a single, it shouldn't  go onto the album. That was a crazy idea, and I'm afraid I was partly responsible. It's nonsense  these days, but in those days it was an aspect that we'd try to give the public value for it's money."- George Martin
 The two songs reached number two in the charts, being stopped from getting to number one from Engelbert Humperdinck's "Release Me" . The only reason Penny Lane and Strawberry Fields, which were released as a Double A-side didn't make it to number one was due to charts counting the double a-side as two individual releases, the songs did outsell Engelbert.

"When [singles] first come out, we follow how much the initial sales were. Not for the money reason, just to see how it's doing compared to the last one; just because we made it. We need that satisfaction, not the glory of Number One."- John Lennon, 1968
Baby You're A Rich Man

The song was originally called "One of The Beautiful People". Mick Jagger sang back up and Brian Jones played oboe on the track, in return Lennon and McCartney sang on The Rolling Stones "We Love You"

All You Need Is Love

As said before in their Our World performance, that this is one of the most iconic songs of that era and of the century. The song was written by John as a song that can be easily understood by the world and easy campaign and fit perfectly into the 1960s Summer of Love theme. It's a song that simple promotes "Love is All You Need" and the obvious like;
There's nothing you can do that can't be done.
Nothing you can sing that can't be sung.
-Or-
There's nothing you can know that isn't known,
 Nothing you can see that isn't shown

The Cover

The album features a bright orange and blue background with the wide letters of The albums names circling over a pictures of John dressed as a walrus, Paul as a hippo, George as a rabbit, and Ringo as a bird. This later lead to more rumors of the Paul is Dead rumor from John's Glass Onion, which would later be released on The White Album stating "The Walrus was Paul" and in Magical Mystery Tour film a music video for The Beatles "I Am The Walrus" shows John in a Walrus costume and Paul as a Hippo as they are in the cover, some believe that John was in the hippo miming the bass lines, while Paul was in the Walrus.In the video when John says "I Am The Walrus", Nicola, a little five year old who was featured in the film can be heard saying "No you're not". Others say that the line "The Walrus was Paul" was due to the fact that John didn't fit into his outfit, but at this time the two were a near mimic of each others built. 

A version of the album was released with a cartoon comic-strip of the movie.

Charts

US; The LP was released on 27 November, 1967 with Larger initials sales of any album in history. The album sold $8 million in just three weeks topping the charts in January of 1968 and staying there for eight weeks. 
UK; The EP was issued on 8 December, 1967 with 400,000 orders in advance. The album entered the UK Singles chart on 14 December remaining there for twelve weeks.  The EP reached number two and in the Melody Maker chart reached number one for one week.







"Love is the sweet expression of life. It is the supreme content  of life. Love is the force of life, powerful and sublime. The flower of life bloom in love and radiates love all around."- Maharishi Mahesh Yogi