Saturday, February 13, 2010


"Flying" is an instrumental song by The Beatles which first appeared on the 1967 Magical Mystery Tour release (two EP discs in the United Kingdom, an LP in the United States).


A rare Beatles instrumental (the first since "Cry for a Shadow" in 1961), although wordless chanting is heard at the end, it was the first song to be credited as being written by all four members of the band, with the writing credits of "Lennon/McCartney/Harrison/Starkey" (another being "Dig It" off the Let It Be album). It was recorded on September 8, 1967 with mellotron, guitar, bass, maracas, drums, and tape loops overdubbed September 28.

"Flying" was originally titled "Aerial Tour Instrumental." The end of the recording originally included a fast-paced traditional New Orleans jazz-influenced coda, but this was removed and replaced with an ending featuring tape loops created by John Lennon and Ringo Starr during the September 28 session. The loops initially made the song last 9 minutes 38 seconds, but the track was cut after only 2 minutes 17 seconds. Part of the loops were used alongside an element of the ending jazz sequence to make "The Bus," an incidental piece used at various points, for the TV movie. The track is likely to have originally started simply as a jam session — it is in simple 12-bar blues form in a straight-forward 4/4 time and the key of C major.


On the track as recorded and officially released, John Lennon plays the main theme on mellotron, accompanied by Paul McCartney and George Harrison (both on guitars, plus a later bass overdub) and Ringo Starr (on maracas and drums). All four Beatles added the chanting, and the track fades in an assortment of tape effects created by Lennon and Starr. This released version is identical to that heard on the soundtrack of the Magical Mystery Tour film; the music is accompanied in the film by color-altered images of landscape in Iceland taken from an airplane. Those shots are outtakes of the Stanley Kubrick's movie 2001: A Space Odyssey.

A different version can be found on some Beatles bootleg albums (such as Back-track 1), and features added Hammond organ and strange whistling noises in the early parts of the track. The jazz-influenced ending is also present on this version, which is slightly shorter, clocking in at around 2:08.

Influence on music by other artists

In 1977, The Residents covered "Flying" on the Residents Play the Beatles side of their The Beatles Play the Residents and the Residents Play the Beatles single release. Reportedly, the only reason they chose "Flying" was because it was the only song they could find that was credited to all of The Beatles as composers. The single is now fairly difficult to obtain, although the track can be found on the discontinued CD release of The Third Reich and Roll as a bonus track, as well as the re-released radio interview Eat Exuding Oinks.

It has been said that Noel Gallagher of Oasis used the song "Flying"'s chords to create the song "Shakermaker" on the album Definitely Maybe.

Album: Magical Mystery Tour
Released: November 27, 1967 (US) (LP), December 8, 1967 (UK) (EP), November 19, 1976 (UK) (LP)
Recorded: September 8, 1967
Genre: Psychedelic rock
Length: 2:17
Label: Parlophone, Capitol, EMI
Writer: Lennon/McCartney/Harrison/Starkey
Producer: George Martin


Friday, February 12, 2010

"Fixing a Hole"

"Fixing a Hole" is a song mainly written by Paul McCartney (credited to Lennon/McCartney) and performed by The Beatles on the 1967 album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.


The first of two recording sessions for the song was at Regent Sound Studio in London on February 9, 1967 in three takes. Regent was used because Abbey Road was not available that night. This was the first time the Beatles used a studio other than Abbey Road for recording a track for an EMI album.

The lead vocal was recorded at the same time as the rhythm track, a change from their post-1963 approach of overdubbing the vocal.

According to McCartney, on the night of the session an unusual man appeared at the gate of McCartney's home and identified himself as Jesus Christ. After a cup of tea, and after getting him to promise to be quiet and sit in a corner, McCartney brought the man to the recording session. After the session the man left and was never heard from again.

In another version of the story, John Lennon arrived at the studio, found the man hanging around the front door, and it was Lennon who invited him in.


* Paul McCartney: Vocals, bass guitar.
* John Lennon: Backing vocals.
* George Harrison: Backing vocals; guitar.
* Ringo Starr: Drums
* George Martin: Harpsichord


McCartney said the song was "another ode to pot," and considering the song's slightly psychedelic vibe (due to the heavy use of echo on McCartney's vocals and the overall use of rather surrealistic imagery in the lyrics), this may very well be true. He further said the song was about having the freedom to let one's mind roam freely. Another theory is that the song is about McCartney repairing the roof of his Scottish farmhouse, but McCartney said he didn't get around to that until much later. Many believe the song is a reference to track marks or "holes" left in a heroin addict's arm after getting their fix, though McCartney denied this interpretation.

McCartney has added to the confusion:

* In an interview with Q magazine from around the time of his 1997 album Flaming Pie, McCartney said that the song's lyric began with the simple idea of someone mending a hole in the road, and that he was living alone and smoking a lot of marijuana when he wrote it.

* In a 1967 interview, McCartney said the following lines were about those fans who hung around outside his door day and night and whose actions put him off.
See the people standing there
who disagree, and never win
And wonder why they don't get in my door

According to his diaries, Mal Evans (the Beatles' roadie) made some contributions to the lyrics of the song.

Other versions

* In the 1978 film Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, George Burns performed the song in a soft shoe style.
* The Fray performed the song on 2 June 2007 for a 40th anniversary tribute to Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band.
* Les Fradkin has an instrumental version on his 2007 release Pepper Front To Back.
* Easy Star All-Stars covered the song in a reggae style for Easy Star's Lonely Hearts Dub Band.

Album: Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
Released: 1 June 1967
Recorded: Regent Sound Studio, 9, 21 February 1967
Genre: Rock, Psychedelic rock
Length: 2:36
Label: Parlophone
Writer: Lennon/McCartney
Producer: George Martin


Thursday, February 11, 2010

John Lennon's Record Collection: Jimmy McCracklin - The Walk

"Golden Slumbers"

"Golden Slumbers" is a song by The Beatles, part of the climactic medley on their 1969 album Abbey Road. The song begins the progression that leads to the end of the album and is followed by "Carry That Weight." The two songs were recorded together as a single piece, and both were written by Paul McCartney (credited to Lennon/McCartney).

Original ballad and poem

"Golden Slumbers" is based on a poem by Thomas Dekker and written in a lullaby style. McCartney saw the sheet music for Dekker's lullaby at his father's home in Liverpool, left on a piano by his stepsister Ruth McCartney. McCartney could not read music at the time and was unable to read the score, and so he created his own melody and arrangement.

The words originally come from a lullaby in "The Pleasant Comodie of Patient Grissill" written about 1603.


McCartney was the lead vocalist. He begins the song in a soft tone appropriate for a lullaby, with piano, bass guitar, and string section accompaniment. Beginning with the line "Once there was a way to get back homeward," the drums come in and McCartney switches to a stronger tone, both of which emphasize the switch to the refrain. McCartney said, "I remember trying to get a very strong vocal on it, because it was such a gentle theme, so I worked on the strength of the vocal on it, and ended up quite pleased with it."

The main recording session for "Golden Slumbers"/"Carry That Weight" was on 2 July 1969. John Lennon was not present. He was injured in a motor vehicle accident in Scotland on 1 July 1969, and was hospitalized there until 6 July.

Additional vocals were added in an overdub session on 30 July 1969, the same day the first trial edit of the side two medley was created. Lennon did participate in this session. On 15 August, orchestral overdubs were made to "Golden Slumbers" and five other songs on Abbey Road.


* Paul McCartney – vocals and piano
* George Harrison - bass
* Ringo Starr – drums


* In 1969 the George Benson version was released on the LP The Other Side of Abbey Road.

* In 1970 it was featured as the beginning of a medley on John Denver's album Whose Garden Was This?

* In 1971 it was recorded by Brazilian singer Elis Regina, in the LP Ela (She).

* In 1991 it was recorded as a duet between Jackson Browne and Jennifer Warnes for the Disney benefit album For Our Children: To Benefit the Pediatrics AIDS Foundation.

* In 1991 a dreamy instrumental version was used as background music for a dream sequence in The Simpsons episode "Lisa's Pony."

* In 1996 an album was released by the reggae cover band Dread Zeppelin featuring a cover.

* In 1998, it was covered by Phil Collins on the album In My Life, a tribute to George Martin.

* In 1998 it was covered by Andrés Calamaro on the album of rarities Las Otras Caras de Alta Suciedad.

* In 2002 a version by Ben Folds appeared on the I Am Sam soundtrack.

* In 2006 it was covered by k.d. lang in a mashup with "The End" for the movie soundtrack album Happy Feet: Music from the Motion Picture.

* In 2003 it was featured as a B-side on Alex Lloyd's single, "Coming Home."

* In 2006 it was also covered by German singer/songwriter Rolf Meurer.

* In 2009 it was live-covered by English piano rock band Keane.

* Les Fradkin has an instrumental version on his 2005 release, "While My Guitar Only Plays."

* It was covered by Claudine Longet.

* The title of the 1990 song "Golden Blunders" by The Posies was inspired by "Golden Slumbers" ("Golden Blunders" was covered by Ringo Starr in 1992).

In Popular Culture

* A few lines of the song are sung by a penguin at the start of the film "Happy Feet" (2006).

Album: Abbey Road
Released: 26 September 1969
Recorded: Abbey Road, 2 July-15 August 1969
Genre: Rock
Length: 1:31
Label: Apple Records
Writer: Lennon/McCartney
Producer: George Martin


The Beatles on Politics and the Vietnam War

Why are you disinterested in politics?

LENNON: "We're not. We just think politicians are disinteresting."

What do you think of the Vietnam war?

LENNON: "We think of it every day. We don't like it. We don't agree with it. We think it's wrong. But there is not much we can do about it. All we can do is say we don't like it."

What is your opinion of Americans who go to Canada to avoid the draft?

LENNON: "We're not allowed opinions."

McCARTNEY: "Anyone who feels that fighting is wrong has the right not to go in the army."

LENNON: "We all just don't agree with war. There's no need for anyone to kill for any reason."

HARRISON: "'Thou shalt not kill' means that--not, 'Amend section A.' There's no reason whatsoever. No one can force you to kill anyone if you don't want to."

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Monday, February 08, 2010

George Harrison's Thoughts on Psychedelic Drugs

"I hadn't had any psychedelic drugs for almost ten years since the '60s, when we were all loonies, so I thought maybe I should have it to just see . . . if it reminds me of anything . . . You have to be careful [with mushrooms] because they're so good. That stuff is very organic, you know. You feel great, and everything is in perfect focus, even the physical body feels good. But because I felt so good, I kept on eating them all day. I nearly did myself in; I had too many. I fell over and left my body, hit my head on a piece of concrete -- but they were great."

Beatles News

Sunday, February 07, 2010

John Lennon on the Myth of the Beatles

"You see, we believed the Beatles myth too. I don't know whether the others still believe it, but we were four guys that--I met Paul and said, "Do you want to join me band?" and then George joined and then Ringo joined. We were just a band who made it very, very big--that's all. Our best work was never recorded.

"Because we were performers in spite of what Mick [Jagger] says about us, in Liverpool, Hamburg and around the dance halls. What we generated was fantastic when we played straight rock, and there was nobody to touch us in Britain. But as soon as we made it, the edges were knocked off. Brian Epstein put us in suits and all that, and we made it very, very big. We sold out. The music was dead before we even went on the theatre tour of Britain. We were feeling shit already, because we had to reduce an hour or two hours' play--and which we were glad [to do] in one way--to twenty minutes, and go on and repeat the same twenty minutes every night. The Beatles' music died then, as musicians. That's why we never improved as musicians. We killed ourselves then to make it--and that was the end of it. George and I are more inclined to say that. We always missed the club dates 'cause that's when we were playing music. Then later on we became technically efficient recording artists, which was another thing. Because we were competent people, whatever media you put us in, we can produce something worthwhile."