Saturday, November 14, 2009

"Blue Jay Way"

"Blue Jay Way" is a song written by George Harrison; it was first recorded and released by The Beatles on their Magical Mystery Tour album and EP in 1967.


The name of the song comes from an actual street, high in the Hollywood Hills overlooking Sunset Boulevard, which affords panoramic views of Hollywood and much of the Los Angeles Basin. It is reached by following a rather complicated route, which is all the harder to navigate on a foggy night — thus creating the backdrop for the opening lines of the song:

"There's a fog upon L.A. / And my friends have lost their way"

According to Harrison: "Derek Taylor got held up. He rang to say he'd be late. I told him on the phone that the house was in Blue Jay Way. And he said he could find it OK... he could always ask a cop. So I waited and waited. I felt really knackered with the flight, but I didn't want to go to sleep until he came. There was a fog and it got later and later. To keep myself awake, just as a joke to pass the time while I waited, I wrote a song about waiting for him in Blue Jay Way. There was a little Hammond organ in the corner of this house which I hadn't noticed until then... so I messed around on it and the song came."


The song was recorded on 6 September 1967, with overdubs on 7 September and 6 October. The record employs flanging, an audio delay technique, and the stereo and mono mixes differ slightly. The television film, Magical Mystery Tour, included the mono mix; the 1990s remastered version used a new stereo mix, sounding closer to the mono mix. The music video for the Magical Mystery Tour film was shot at West Malling and Weybridge in Surrey on 3 November, the day filming was completed.

At the end of the song, there is what might be perceived as a malfunction of the cello tape loop. It is in fact a cover-up of what had been planned to occur in the music video featured in the Magical Mystery Tour film; in the planned ending George was supposed to be hit by the Magical Mystery Tour bus. That ending was never shot, and the revised repeated ending is shown instead. A session musician played the cello.


* George Harrison – vocals, Hammond organ
* John Lennon – backing vocals
* Paul McCartney – backing vocals, bass
* Ringo Starr – drums, tambourine
* Uncredited – cello

Cultural references

* "Blue Jay Way" is referenced in Trevor Rabin's 1989 song, "Something to Hold on to" (featured on his album Can't Look Away), in which Rabin claims to be looking for someone in Blue Jay Way.

* Jonathan Kellerman references George Harrison's experience in his 2006 novel Obsession.

Cover versions

"Blue Jay Way" has been covered by:

* Colin Newman on his 1982 album Not To
* Borbetomagus on their 1990 album Buncha Hair That Long
* Dan Bern on his 1998 album Smartie Mine
* Rodney Graham on his 2000 album What Is Happy, Baby?
* Beatlejazz on their 2001 album Another Bite of the Apple
* Siouxsie and the Banshees on their 2003 live album Seven Year Itch
* Tracy Bonham on her 2006 EP In The City + In The Woods
* The Secret Machines in the 2007 movie Across the Universe
* the Seattle-based band, Pickwick, at concerts

Love Version

"Blue Jay Way" was used as a transition piece between "Something" and "Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite". The opening lines from "Nowhere Man", noises from "Revolution 9", "Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite" tape loops, some gasping vocals from the outro of "Hey Bulldog", and it has been suggested that "Carnival of Light" noises were mixed into the intro and left speaker channel during half of the first chorus.

Album: Magical Mystery Tour
Released: 27 November 1967 (US) (LP), 8 December 1967 (UK) (EP), 19 November 1976 (UK) (LP)
Recorded: 6, 7 September, 6 October 1967
Genre: Psychedelic rock
Length: 3:56
Label: Parlophone, Capitol, EMI
Writer: George Harrison
Producer George Martin


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