Tuesday, December 08, 2009

"Cry Baby Cry"

"Cry Baby Cry" is a song by The Beatles from their self titled album, more commonly known as The White Album. "Cry Baby Cry" is the final song on the album featuring the group's instrumental presence. Inspirations for the song included an advertisement and an old nursery rhyme that John Lennon remembered from his youth, "Sing A Song Of Sixpence."

The song features a brief segment, written by Paul McCartney often referred to as "Can You Take Me Back."


When asked about "Cry Baby Cry" in 1980, Lennon replied, "Not mine. A piece of rubbish." The "Not mine" part is either a mistake in Lennon's memory, an error in the transcription of the interviewer's audio tape of the interview, or Lennon sarcastically disowning the song. Paul McCartney said, "'Cry Baby Cry' was another of John's songs from India," although demos of the song indicate it was written in late 1967, before the Beatles went to India.

The original lyrics were "Cry baby cry, make your mother buy." Lennon describes to Hunter Davies how he got the words from an advertisement. The "Duchess of Kirkcaldy" mentioned in the song was a creation of Lennon's, possibly inspired by the Beatles' gig in the town of the same name in 1963.

George Martin plays harmonium on this track (introduced after the first statement of "make your mother sigh." This was the same harmonium Lennon used on "We Can Work It Out" and that Martin had previously used on "The Word."

This was the song the Beatles were working on when engineer Geoff Emerick quit, though his departure was precipitated by Lennon and McCartney's obsessions over the recordings of "Revolution" and "Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da," respectively, and the overall tensions of the White Album sessions.

Can You Take Me Back

"Cry Baby Cry" includes a very short unrelated song performed by McCartney, whose most prominent line is "Can you take me back?" appearing directly before "Revolution 9." This separate song does not appear in the lyrics included with the album. For many years, the origins of the fragment were unknown, but Mark Lewisohn uncovered the truth for his book, The Beatles Recording Sessions. Lewisohn revealed that "Can You Take Me Back" is actually part of "take 19" of Paul's song, "I Will," recorded on September 16, 1968. According to Lewisohn, the full take lasted 2:21, and just a fragment was included on the LP. Immediately following this track, a short and barely audible conversation takes place between producer George Martin and Alistair Taylor, Brian Epstein’s personal assistant. Taylor is apologizing to Martin, apparently for neglecting to bring a bottle of wine for him to the session. At the end of "Come Together" on the Love soundtrack, the song segues into "Can You Take Me Back," backed by the "Eleanor Rigby" strings.

The entire version of the song is featured on several bootlegs.


* John Lennon – vocals, acoustic guitar, piano, organ
* Paul McCartney – bass
* George Harrison – lead guitar
* Ringo Starr – drums, tambourine
* George Martin – harmonium

"Can You Take Me Back"

* Paul McCartney – vocals, acoustic guitar

Cultural references

* The song is referenced in a line from the Firefly episode "Serenity."

Cover versions

* Ramsey Lewis recorded an instrumental version of this song on his 1968 album Mother Nature's Son.
* Fools Garden covered this song on their first album Once in a Blue Moon in 1993.
* Samiam covered this song on their 1997 album, You Are Freaking Me Out.
* Tom Freund recorded a version on his 1998 album North American Long Weekend.
* Live covers by Phish are available on the Hampton Comes Alive box set and Live Phish Volume 13.
* Richard Barone has a live version of this song on his album Cool Blue Halo.
* Bardo Pond covered this song on their album Ticket Crystals.
* Throwing Muses include a version of this song on the Not Too Soon EP, having already recorded their own song, with the same title, on the Chains Changed EP.
* Katie Melua included a version of this song on her single "Spider's Web."

Album: The Beatles
Released: 22 November 1968
Recorded: Abbey Road Studios, 16 July 1968
Genre: Rock
Length: 3:03
Label: Apple Records
Writer: Lennon/McCartney
Producer: George Martin


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Pretty cool blog you've got here. Thanx for it. I like such topics and anything connected to them. BTW, try to add some pics :).