The Big One in eight takes.
The White Album is full of tension. Four personalities tearing against each other, the record is a mess. It’s rock ‘n’ roll.
I have this memory. I was three. I was in London. Dad was with me. I remember his presence hovering over me as he purchased a cassette. On the cover was the picture of what looked like The Hungry Caterpillar. That got me excited. He tried to explain why that was funny. The band were called The Beatles, beetles were bugs. It must have been a compilation. The band were bugs? ‘Piggies’ was the first song I remember hearing. It was funny, I was excited when it came on. (I liked pigs). The Beatles got me young. I told a woman on a train about this. She'd had a similar experience. Like me it was with her father. The music came from a cassette too. Wasn’t The White Album or 'Piggies'. It was ‘I Want To Hold Your Hand.’
On ‘Dear Prudence’ Paul plays drums. Ringo had quit. Meanwhile, John had fallen in with Yoko and with her took his music to the deeply personal and avant-garde. George came into his own as a songwriter as Paul chased his whimsy to show tunes, folk, off-the-wall narratives like ‘Rocky Raccoon’. He also sang about his dog. Eric Clapton dropped in. Ringo even came back and even wrote two songs.
Where do you set the bar for a good album? For me, there needs to be style and attitude but most importantly it has to be honest. Not cloying or commercial or trying to be something that’s already worked. It’s got to hit me in the gut and stick to the side of my head. It has to further the art, advance the cause, and blow my mind - make me cry a little the first time it really hits me. I want it to stay with me and tell me something I didn’t already know. But most importantly forget that I cared about any of this in the first place. Somewhere between ‘Happiness Is A Warm Gun’, ‘Sexy Sadie’, ‘Julia’, ‘Long, Long, Long’, and ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’ I’ve found these things.
Too much filler. They were getting indulgent by this point. Should have stuck to covers.
On May 30th, 1968 The Beatles who had just returned from India entered Abbey Road Studios. Here they spent four-and-a-half months recording what would become their ninth studio album. A follow up to Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band it’s considered by many to be there best.
This release is as much about the Escher Demos as anything else. Recorded at George Harrison’s house prior to the studio sessions these oft-bootlegged recordings offer contemplative and sedate contrasts to the high energy of The White Album’s finished products. A number of imaginative lyrics would later be discarded, some songs would be sidelined for use on later records. Along with a number of studio reels, goof jams and miscellany these recordings shine a light on just how rich of a vein of creativity The Beatles were tapping into at this period of their careers. Just as equally they were ripping it all up and throwing back to their rock ‘n’ roll roots. It was all happening just as their personal relationships were beginning to go south.
BEEN AWAY SO LONG I HARDLY KNEW THE PLACE. YOU DON’T KNOW HOW LUCKY YOU ARE, BOY! GREET A BRAND-NEW DAY. THE SUN IS UP! THERE’S ANOTHER PLACE YOU CAN GO. LIFE GOES ON! BRAH, I LOVE YOU. WHAT DID YOU KILL? THE LOVER THAT’S SLEEPING? I DON’T KNOW HOW YOU WERE DIVERTED, I FEEL MY FINGER ON YOUR TRIGGER. WHEN YOU FIND YOURSELF IN THE THICK OF IT HELP YOURSELF TO A BIT OF WHAT IS ALL AROUND YOU. I WONDER, SHOULD I GET UP AND FETCH MYSELF A DRINK? TAKE THESE BROKEN WINGS AND ALWAYS HAVE PLENTY OF DIRT TO LAY AROUND IN. ONE MORE TIME, HE SAID, “I’M GONNA GET THAT BOY.” DON’T MAKE ME CRY! NO ONE WILL BE WATCHING US IF YOU WANT ME TO I WILL. HALF OF WHAT I SAY IS MEANINGLESS. WELL, IT’S MY BIRTHDAY TOO. I’M LONELY, MOTHER NATURE’S SON. EVERYBODY’S GOT SOMETHING TO HIDE. HOWEVER BIG YOU THINK YOU ARE DO YOU WANT ME TO LOVE YOU? SO MANY TEARS I WAS WASTING. WELL, YOU KNOW THIS IS WHAT I’D SAY: YOU’LL HAVE TO HAVE THEM ALL PULLED OUT AFTER THE SAVOY TRUFFLE. PAINTING PICTURES, BROTHER. CAN YOU TAKE ME BACK? NUMBER NINE? GOODNIGHT.
Words by Riley Fitzgerald