AUTHORSHIP Lennon (.9) and McCartney (.1)
LENNON: "Paul said we should do a real song in the studio, to save wasting time. Could I whip one off? I had a few words at home so I brought them in." Beatles in Their Own Words
McCARTNEY: "I remember 'Hey Bulldog' as being one of John's songs and I helped him finish it off in the studio, but it's mainly his vibe. There's a little rap at the end between John and I, we went into a crazy little thing at the end. We always tried to make every song different because we figured, Why write something like the last one? We've done that. We were always on a staircase to heaven, we were on a ladder so there was never any sense of stepping down a rung, or even staying on the same rung, it was better to move one rung ahead. That's why we had strange drum sounds using tables and tops of packing cases. We'd say to Ringo, 'We heard that snare on the last song.' Whereas now, a drummer just sets up for a whole album, he keeps the same sound for his whole career! But we liked to be inventive. It seemed to us to be crucial to never to do the same thing twice, in fact, as they say now, 'They never did the same thing once!'" Paul McCartney: Many Years from Now
February 11, 1968, at Abbey Road
The Beatles were committed to being in the studio to make a promotional film for "Lady Madonna," and McCartney suggested that they might as well use the studio time to record a new song. He asked Lennon to write something, and Lennon brought in some lyrics he had at home. In the studio, the Beatles completed the lyrics. Lennon described how he wanted the song to go and the group played together and created a backing while they were being filmed.
The lyric "measured out in you" was supposed to be "measured out in news," but McCartney misread Lennon's handwriting and they agreed that the new line was better.
The title of the song was also changed during the session. It was originally called "Hey Bullfrog." Paul barked at the end of the song to make Lennon laugh; they kept the barking in and changed the title to "Hey Bulldog" even though a bulldog is never mentioned in the lyrics.
This recording session was the first Yoko Ono attended with Lennon. Lennon said later that he was embarrassed to be recording something as "lightweight" and "poppy" as this song during her first visit to the studio. The Beatles: A Celebration, Lennon Remembers: The Full Rolling Stone Interviews from 1970
McCARTNEY: bass, harmony vocal
LENNON: piano, lead guitar, lead vocal
HARRISON: lead guitar, tambourine
This song was not used in the original U.S. verison of the Yellow Submarine film.
COMMENTS BY BEATLES
LENNON: "It's a good-sounding record that means nothing." September 1980, All We Are Saying: The Last Major Interview with John Lennon and Yoko Ono
COMMENTS BY OTHERS
ERICH SEGAL, co-screenwriter of Yellow Submarine and author of the popular Love Story, claimed in the early 1970s that the Beatles wrote this song for him, titling it for the mascot of Yale, where he was a lecturer. Washington Post (March 1987)