Only Some Northern Songs in
The Beatles



Disc 1 | Disc 2

Birthday

McCartney
John:Lead Guitar and Vocals
Paul:Piano and Lead Vocal
George: Bass Guitar and Tambourine
Ringo: Drums
Mal Evans: Handclaps
Yoko Ono and Pattie Harrison: Vocals

On 18 September, Paul Mccartney arrived early to Abbey road studios and started working on the basic riff of Birthday. When the others arrived the song was almost finished. However, and although they started recording right away, with everyone throwing things in the song, the session was interrupted and the vocals were left unrecorded at 8:30 p.m. At that time, they went tpo Paul's house, near Abbey Road and watched on BBC2 "The Girl Can't Help It", a film with music from Berry, Cochran, Gene Vinvent, Fats Domino and others. After the film, they recorded the vocals with the help of Yoko and Pattie, present at the session. The song could have been written for Linda's Eastman 26th birthday, 6 days after the recording.

Yer Blues

Lennon
John:Lead Guitar and Lead Vocal
Paul: Bass Guitar
George:Lead Guitar
Ringo: Drums

Yer Blues was composed by John as a parody of the British blues that had flourished in the late sixties. Some authors point out that John may express through the song the isolation in which he felt while in India. With Brian dead, his marriage with no future, Yoko far away and with the Beatles slowly fading away.

It is worth to note, as Lewisohn points out, that Yer Blues is an edit of two different takes. The edit was done directly on the 4 track machive (rather than after reducing to 2 tracks) and can be heard after the guitar solo by George exactly at 3'17'',when Ringo rolls in again. John's voice can be heard in the background, and it probably leaked in from the drums mics.

Mother's Nature Son

McCartney
Paul:2 Acoustic Guitars, Drums, Timpani and Lead Vocal
Session Musicians: Brass

A lecture by the Maharishi in India regarding the unity of man and nature reached deep both John and Paul, and both geniuses came up with two extremely beautiful songs. Paul's Mother Nature's Son ranks among his best acoustic ballads, being the guitar work and the soft melodic vocals specially touching. Paul played everything in thesong except the brass arrangements. The drums were recorded from outside the studio, in the corridor, which gave them the "bongo" sound that can be heard in the song.

John's song was Child of Nature. Even better than Paul's (and yes, that's an opinion) John recorded a demo of the song, but it never made it to a Beatles release. It would have to sit in the shelf for three years until it became a part of the incredible "Imagine".

Everybody's Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey

Lennon
Working Title: Untitled, Come On Come On
John: Lead Guitar, Maracas and Lead Vocal
Paul: Bass Guitar and Backing Vocal
George:Rythm Guitar and Firebell
Ringo Starr:Drums

This song is believed to have been originated in a drawing published by the press in which Yoko was showh as a monkey on John's shoulder draggin his talent. Lennon's reply was this incredible rocker, which he described as "a nice line which I made into a song". One of the most incredible aspects of the record is George's special talent of making the most out aof a simple firebell (I'm serious, check out the incredible rythm which he has playing the thing, ... it's not that easy!). The song was recorded slower than reproduced, and hence a 3'07'' take turned into 3'24''. This gives the distorted guitars even a more frantic feeling, conveniently accentuated by John's vocal.

Sexy Sadie

Lennon
John:Acoustic Guitar, Rythm Guitar, Organ and Lead Vocal Paul:Piano, Bass Guitar and Backing Vocal
George: Fuzz Guitar and Backing Vocal
Ringo: Drums

Maharishi, what have you done?
You made a fool of everyone,

Maharishi, you broke the rules,
you laid it down for all to see. 

Maharishi, you little twat,
Who the fuck do you think you are?
Who the fuck do you think you are?
Oh you cunt
Obviously John didn't have the finest of impressions about the Maharishi after leaving India. All started when rumour aroused that the Maharishi had taken sexual advamtage of some of the girls in the course, even against his own rules. The Beatles also started to believe that he was only after their money, so they finally left Rishikesh.

John revealed the original lyrics to the others while rehearsing in Abbey Road on July 19th 1968. However he had decided to rename the song Sexy Sadie to avoid any upset. During the recording of the song, Yoko, present at the studio, dared to suggest the Beatles that they could record better the song. John tried to smooth things down by saying "well, maybe I can". The truth is that things were getting worse.

Helter Skelter

McCartney
John: Bass Guitar, Lead Guitar, Saxophone and Backing Vocal
Paul: Bass Guitar, Lead Guitar and Lead Vocal
George: Rythm Guitar and Backing Vocal
Ringo: Drums
Mal Evans: Trumpet

Helter Skelter has turned into one of the mythic Beatles recordings over the years. The song, the heaviest recording of the Beatles, holds also the record of the longest Beatles recording ever. In fact, there's a campaign to try to make Apple release the 27 minutes jam of Helter Skelter recorded on July 18th. However, even now the problem is the same as 30 years ago. Over 27 minutes would fill more than a third of a CD (what left it out of the Anthology). Back in the days of thw White Album including this version would have meant a complete side of an LP, so the Beatles re-recorded the song on September 9th.

Helter Skelter is the name of a spiral slide that can be found at British fairgrounds However Charles Manson supposedly missinterpreted the song and claimed that Helter Skelter was the forthcoming holocaust. The words were found written with blood in the scene of one of the crimes commited by Manson, who killed among others Roman Polanskis's wife, actress Sharon Tate.

The song is a clear example that Paul wasn't always the "ballad Beatle" as John had proved with Julia he wasn't always the "rough Beatle". He got the idea for it after reading a review on a song by the Who. Such review made Paul build a mental image of what such song should sound like and decided to create something similar. He didn't get the chance to hear the song until after having written Heter Skelter, and then he discovered that it wasn't what he had foreseen.

Long Long Long

Harrison
Working Title: It's Been a Long Long Long Time Paul: Bass Guitar and Hammond Organ
George: 2 Acoustic Guitars and Lead Vocal
Ringo: Drums
Chris Thomas: Piano

Steve Turner in "A Hard Days' Write" suggests that George got the chords for Long Long Long from a Dylan song. More in particular "Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands" from the album Blonde on Blonde. In any case, the track is yet another Harrison mystical song, with echoed double-tracked vocals, and a distant atmosphere. The sound that can be heard at the end of the song is nothing but a Blue Nun wine bottle, rattling on top of a Leslie speaker cabinet. Accidentally the bottle estarted vibratinhg when Paul hit a note on the organ, and the Beatles decided to record it and include it in the song. John did not participate in the recording of Long Long Long.

Revolution 1

Lennon
Working Title: Revolution
John: Lead Guitar, Acoustic Guitar and Lead Vocal
Paul: Bass Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, Piano and Backing Vocal
George: Rythm Guitar and Backing Vocal
Ringo Starr: Drums
Derek Watkins, Freedy Clayton: Trumpets
Don Lang, Rex Morris, J. Power, Bill Povey: Trombones

Revolution 1, was one of the three revolutions released by the Beatles during the White Album period. The first one to be recorded was this Revolution 1 (an acoustic version of the later single, which much heavier distorted guitars). John sung in Revolution how he stood among the revolutionary mood that shook the world in 1968. He was IN for changes, but was OUT for destruction (although in Revolution 1 asks once to be counted in). The song's vocal was recorded by John completely laying down on the floor, with the mic hanging above his mouth. Although originally the "best" take lasted over 10 minutes, it was edited to the 4 minutes verison released in the album.

Honey Pie

McCartney
John: Electric Guitar
Paul: Piano, Lead Guitar and Lead Vocal
George: Bass Guitar
Ringo: Drums
7 Session Musicians: Saxophones and Clarinets

Another clear example of Paul's ability to create as many different styles as he wanted to. Honey Pie, a 20's style song, clearly influenced by his dad, stands along with When I'm 64 and Your Mother Should Know in this category. Totally delightful is the score by George Martin and the production, which really takes us back to those old records with wonderful orchestras playing great tunes.

Unfortunately, once again Charles Manson thought that the song was a message for him, after all he lived near L.A., and was to show his Hollywood song.

Savoy Truffle

Harrison
John: Lead Guitar
Paul: Bass Guitar
George: Lead Guitar, Organ and Lead Vocal
Ringo: Drums and Tambourine
Session Musicians: Brass

Eric Clapton played the guitar on While My Guitar Gently Weeps, but he also was the inspiration for Savoy Truffle. Clapton was almost addicted to chocolate, and George decided to write him a song. The lyrics came out almost completely out of a Mackintosh's Good News box of chocolates. Savoy Truffle was one of the chocolates as well as Creme Tangerine, Montelimart and Coffee Dessert.

Cry Baby Cry

Lennon
John: Acoustic Guitar, Piano, Organ and Lead Vocal
Paul: Bass Guitar
George: Lead Guitar
Ringo: Drums and Tambourine
George Martin: Harmonium

John got the idea for this song out of a television commercial "Cry baby cry, make your mother buy". The song was finished during his stay in India and Donovan could have had some influence on its subject. The truth is that John wrote a fine song, but it lacks from nice chorus verse that would make it exceptional. John probably spent some time looking for this, but didn't quite achieve it.

Revolution 9

Lennon
John: Live mixing of around 100 tape loops, and vocals
George: Vocals

This "song" is probably the most skipped track in any beatles CD, cassette or LP. Out of his new love with Yoko, John also got the need to show all his avant-garde ideas, creating experimental tracks with Yoko. Far from limiting this activity to the home studio, John decided to record Revolution 9 as a part of the White Album.

The track was recorded in a similar way to the tapes loops in "Tomorrow Never Knows", with people spooling loops all over Abbey Road's 3 studios with pencils. John mixed them live, and later added with George bizarre lines like "the watusi", "the twist", "economically viable", "financial imbalance", etc...

Understanding Revolution 9 is not only impossible, but also a waste of time, since it has no possible interpretation. However, and thanks to Lewisohn's patience, we know where most of the sounds (or the most audible ones) come from:

  • George Martin saying "Geoff, put the red light on" heavily echoed and repeated
  • A choir with backward violins
  • Extract of the orchestral overdub for "A Day in the Life"
  • Backwards Mellotron (John)
  • Number Nine voice, out of EMI library of sounds.

    Once again (and this comes as no surprise at all) Manson took this song as a message. In the song, we can hear John and Yoko singing "right" (from Revolution), but Manson interpreted "rise", a word wich appeared also repeatedly in the crimes scenes.

    In my opinion, Revolution 9 is probably the only unpleasant bit of any Beatles record.

    Goodnight

    Lennon
    Ringo: Lead Vocal
    26 piece orchestra
    4 boys and 4 girls (Choir)

    This song, almost out of a Walt Disney movie, was a lullaby written by John for Julian. Musically is not specially remarkable, although Martin's score once again is much more than appropiate. 12 years later, John would write "Beautiful Boy" for his other son Sean.


©Copyright 1997-2000 Enrique Cabrera
The contents of these pages are protected by the intelectual property rights and hence cannot be reproduced without written permission from the author.