"Hey Bulldog" is a song by The Beatles which first appeared on the Yellow Submarine soundtrack album in 1969. Written by John Lennon (credited to Lennon/McCartney), the song was recorded during the filming of the "Lady Madonna" promotional video, and is one of the few Beatles songs to revolve around a piano riff.
During the recording, Paul McCartney started to bark without warning. The next lines, initially written as "Hey Bullfrog," were changed mid-song to "Hey Bulldog." This became the song's title.
Geoff Emerick, the Beatles' engineer, would subsequently claim this was the last song the band recorded that featured a team dynamic with enthusiasm from every member. When the group reconvened in the studio in May 1968 for the The Beatles sessions, their group cohesion had already been undermined by the business, artistic, and personal differences that would culminate in their eventual breakup.
During these sessions, a film crew photographed the four Beatles recording the song. It was one of the few times they allowed themselves to be extensively filmed recording in the Abbey Road studios, for a promotional film to be released during their scheduled four-month retreat to India (which was later edited together as a promotional film for the single Lady Madonna).
The song was used in an animated segment of the Yellow Submarine film which initially appeared only in European theatrical prints. It was restored and seen for the first time in 30 years for the film's 1999 re-release. To promote the reissue, Apple went back to the original footage shot for the "Lady Madonna" promo film and restructured it for use as a promotional clip for "Hey Bulldog" (as it is possible to identify what they were playing, and therefore possible to synchronize the music with the original footage).
The guitar riff from "Hey Bulldog" was included in the 2006 album Love in its version of "Lady Madonna." Some of Lennon & McCartney laughing was featured in the Blue Jay Way transitional piece.
McCartney spoke fondly of "Hey Bulldog" in 1994: "I remember (it) 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 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".
Differences between versions
The two recordings of "Hey Bulldog" that are featured on the original soundtrack and the remastered Yellow Submarine Songtrack differ in many ways. In the original mix, the backing track is on the left channel, the bass in the centre, and vocals and lead guitar on the right channel. There is a sharp edit in the lead guitar track at 01:04, and again when this edit piece ends at 01:32. There is audible laughing and chatter during the solo. The backing track also has its volume turned down slightly to make the coda chatter seem louder. The fade out in this take is only 7 seconds long.
On the Yellow Submarine Songtrack, the studio engineers remixed each record using the original multitrack tapes. This results in a much cleaner sound (easily noticeable when comparing the piano intro with the drum stick beats on both versions). The stereo placement has more of a modern feel, with the backing track to the left, vocals in the centre, and bass and lead guitar to the right (although the lead vocal moves slightly to the right when the backing vocals appear to the left in each chorus). This track's guitars on both the Yellow Submarine Songtrack and Love albums have far more bottom-end than in the original. The laughing and chatter during the guitar solo is quieter compared to the music, and the talking at the end of the track is slightly quieter too, but easily audible. The fade out is somewhat longer, taking 10 seconds to fade out. This also makes a final "Hey bulldog!" call audible.
There is an early version of the song with just John at the piano. The 48 seconds demo is entitled "She can talk to me" and appeared in bootlegs like "Artifacts" (Vol. 1, Disc 4) or "The Lost Lennon Tapes" (Vol 18).
"Hey Bulldog" has been covered by Jim Schoenfeld, Tea Leaf Green, Eric McFadden, Ween, Elvis Costello, Honeycrack, Ian Moore, Gomez, Rolf Harris, Toad the Wet Sprocket, Firewater, Alice Cooper, The Gods, Skin Yard, U-Melt, Dave Matthews, Paddy Milner, of Montreal, Manfred Mann's Earth Band, Bill Deal & The Rhondells, Boxer, The Golden Ticket, Southern Culture on the Skids, Dave Matthews & Friends, The Chaperones, Die Andalusischen Hunde, as well as The Roots, who cover it during jams in their live shows with the Beatles' vocals replaced by rapping from their MCs.
* John Lennon – lead vocal, piano, lead guitar
* Paul McCartney – bass, backing vocals, tambourine
* George Harrison – rhythm guitar
* Ringo Starr – drums
Album: Yellow Submarine (1969), Yellow Submarine Songtrack (1999)
Released: 13 January 1969 (US), 17 January 1969 (UK)
Recorded: 11 February 1968
Genre: Hard rock
Label: Apple Records
Producer: George Martin