The Dallas Morning News Saturday, January 18, 1969
George Explains What Goes On
By marge Pettyjohn
One of the greatest collections of musical styles and sounds ever compiled in one album could be called a revolution in every sense of the word. But, of course, each listener probably has his own interpretation of each song in "THE BEATLES" album.
However, no matter what images you may be conjuring up on your own, when a Beatle consents to talk about the songs in the album, you listen. George Harrison, in Los Angeles this month to record Jackle Lomax's next record for Apple, did just that.
Because these comments are interesting enough in their own right, we'll just repeat what George had to say and leave it at that (which is the best way to absorb a Beatle's comments anyway).
The first cut on the LP, he says, was "Paul's tribute to Brian Wilson, whom he digs very much." The original inspiration for the lyrics, he added, came from the "I'm Backing Britain'" campaign in England. "Paul thought of 'I'm backing the USSR.' I think it originally has 'I'm backing USA.' 'I'm backing USSR.,' 'I'm backing the UK' - he had them all in, but it ended up as 'Back in the USSR.' "
ECHOS OF "Pata Pata" - or any typical African folk music - seem present in "Obladi Oblada" and, according to George, that's logical "There's a fellow in London, Jimmy Scott, and his Obladi Oblada Band, and he made up that saying based on some African saying. He says it all the time: '0bladi oblada. Life goes on, man.' "
The children's chorus in "Bungalow Bill"? George says it's "Ringo's chauffeur and wife and all the engineers and anybody who was around, really. They're overdubbed about three times."
The origin of "Happiness Is a Warm Gun" could confirm the remark that this is a powerful argument in favor of gun control. Says George "After Kennedy - the second Kennedy - was killed, British newspapers printed ads from American gun magazines, and one of the selling things was 'Happiness is warm gun,' believe it or not."
(And you might already be aware that "Martha My Dear" is Paul's tribute to his English sheepdog of that name.)
ABOUT HIS own composition, "Piggies," George claims "it was written two and a half years ago, really. It just seems funny that it's come out now at this time."
"Rocky Racoon," which has turned into a favorite cut from the album, ping-pongs between Dylan country-heavy and Nilsson scats and George is quick to point out, '''I'm sure Rocky is the guy in all those Westerns."
George likes to run together the last three song titles on side two as if there were a question mark after the first one and a comma after the second. Try it (we did, less than 15 minutes after we got the album).
CUTS THREE and four on side three he explains simply. " 'Mother Nature's Son,' which Paul is singing, is a very lovely song that he wrote about himself. 'Everybody's Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey' is John singing a very lovely song that he wrote about himself."
"Helter Skelter" sounds just like the instrument of its inspiration which George describes: "Do you have helter skelters here, things in fun fairs where you get on a little mat and slide round and round and round? You start at the top and come down; and when you're down, you go back up."
"Revolution No. 1" says George, "was recorded before the other side of 'Hey Jude,' has less attack and not as much revolution. More the Glen .MiIIer version."
AND AS FAR as "Revolution No. 9" goes, I don't know what the meaning is," he admits, "but the effects came from live effects we created ourselves or things we found already recorded by editing the tapes and making loops of tapes. And we built the whole thing out of that. We got a lot just from the tape library and cut sounds out of old records.
" 'Revolution No. 9' becomes whatever revolution you want it to be. That's all down to who's listening."
When asked: about the use of different musical styles in the collection, George summed it up better than any description of the impact of the ablum's 93 minutes. "I suppose because we're influenced by a lot of different types of music, then the influence must show in the stuff we write and in the way we perform. "So I suppose all the different types of music came to us that way, just from our influence. And there it is. It goes back round and round and round. The same thing really."
Good night. Sleep tight.