The Beatles (Part 1)

by David Dedrick on April 16, 2014


On this episode of Compleatly Beatles, Ian and Dave discuss the first two sides of the Beatles only double album, The Beatles (aka The White Album. They also discuss the first of two singles released before The Beatles, “Lady Madonna” and its b-side “The Inner Light”. We’ll hear about The Beatles trip to Rishikesh; we’ll hear about the steady disintegration of the Beatles as a band; and we’ll hear about their struggles to complete their greatest achievement – the delightful, infuriating, moving, amusing, disturbing and wondrous curate’s egg that is The Beatles.

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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

J. Maggio April 16, 2014 at 1:09 pm

Good call on Happiness… Best song on the album!



J. Maggio April 16, 2014 at 1:27 pm

Radical view: “I’m So Tired” is best vocal by any Beatle on any Beatles song. (Only rival is Twist and Shout.)


J. Maggio April 16, 2014 at 1:31 pm

I am commenting as I go: I am pretty sure Geoff Emerick states that he knew it was about civil rights at the time. Also, John Lewis mentioned how the whole civil rights movement where happy the Beatles were taking a stand. (That doesnt mean Macca meant it, but…)


Ian Boothby April 16, 2014 at 3:06 pm

Here’s the quote…

“I had been doing poetry readings. I had been doing some in the last year or so because I’ve got a poetry book out called Blackbird Singing, and when I would read “Blackbird”, I would always try and think of some explanation to tell the people, ’cause there’s not a lot you can do except just read the poem, you know, you read 10 poems that takes about 10 minutes, almost. It’s like, you’ve got to, just, do a bit more than that. So, I was doing explanations, and I actually just remembered why I’d written “Blackbird”, you know, that I’d been, I was in Scotland playing on my guitar, and I remembered this whole idea of “you were only waiting for this moment to arise” was about, you know, the black people’s struggle in the southern states, and I was using the symbolism of a blackbird. It’s not really about a blackbird whose wings are broken, you know, it’s a bit more symbolic.”
— Paul McCartney, Interview with KCRW’s Chris Douridas, May 25, 2002 episode of New Ground


Will April 17, 2014 at 1:21 pm

Happiness is a warm gun: fantastic. I’m so tired: brilliant. I think that Lennin reAlly contributes some great work to The Beatles. Which is nice… Because his influence reduces more and more from here on in. Although I feel that when he does make an effort on Abbey Road/Let it be it generally results in great moments. In summary. I’d suggest that while it’s patchy, and I probably skip tracks more than any other Beatles record. It’s probably the only one that I’d class as a proper rock album. Earthy, rootsy, rootless? Ruthless. A mess of ideas and ideology. It manages to show how far the Beatles had grown apart. Yet at the same time, just what was still possible when they got it together. I love it.


Will April 17, 2014 at 1:22 pm

*Lennon not Lenin


Stuart April 18, 2014 at 12:10 pm

Here is a link to an interview between Steve Jones ( Sex Pistols ) and Chris Thomas . It ranges over all of his career and has some stories about his time on the White Album and how much he was paid for his work.

Beatles are first mention at 20 minutes then more fully at 29 minutes. The whole thing is very interesting. Enjoy. You should be able to download rather than listen online.


Bob April 18, 2014 at 12:11 pm

Another great show guys.

Ian, regarding Glass Onion and “making a dove-tail joint”. A dove-tail joint is a woodworking technique used to attach a guitar neck to the body (the guitar body). With John’s familiarity with guitars, his penchant for puns and the song coming from the ’60s, I can only assume he’s extending the guitar joint reference to another specific type of joint. Hilarity ensues, followed by munchies.


lambert July 14, 2016 at 2:46 pm

there may also be an allusion to the teddy boy haircut, a duck tail.


Marcus Harwell May 3, 2014 at 12:28 pm

I’m compelled to defend Paul’s songs a bit, particularly “Martha My Dear.” A throwaway? Heaven forfend! As great as “Happiness Is a Warm Gun” is, it’s a pastiche of snippets. It’s a sort of miniature suite that hangs together well enough, but isn’t cohesive in the way MMD is. “Martha” has a complicated piano part, and jaunty is a good description, but there’s more underneath that impression. It’s music hall, but it’s also Bach. The song is elegant and cleverly arranged, with unexpected chord changes and, as you mentioned, complicated timing. Martin does a great job with the strings on this, as usual. It’s also complete as a song, moving through its changes and coming round full circle. It’s carefree, but it’s also wistful—there’s a tinge of melancholy in there, as well. Paul wrote this one after his breakup with Asher, true, but that was in June and he’d already invited Linda to stay with him in London while the lads recorded The Beatles. Paul and Linda were well on their way to being “Paul & Linda.” So, I tend not to put too much of Jane into the song, and for me it works much better as an affectionate view of a man and his dog.

I just can’t see “silly girl” as a dig at Jane. It’s a phrase of amusement one would use about their dog doing amusing things. “When you find yourself in the thick of it,” i.e., the tall grass, “help yourself to a bit of what is all around you.” What dog owner hasn’t bemusedly observed their pet munching a little grass? It’s also possibly an admonition of Paul to himself, a reminder to remember to be present and enjoy the moment, even when it’s slow going or one feels lost. “Don’t forget me” is a plea to a pet who can’t understand why the master spends so much time away, and then she’s reminded she’s loved and appreciated. There are lines that don’t fit with my interpretation, like, “you have always been my inspiration” more easily attributed to Jane, but then, The Beatles didn’t always care that it all made perfect sense or all had to relate to the main thing. I really like it, and it’s a song that gives back more the more one digs into it (like tons of other Beatles songs, naturally).


David Dedrick May 3, 2014 at 10:29 pm

Marcus, I quite enjoy your theory; although it may qualify as “dotty”. I think Paul himself would describe this song as a throwaway, but who says there is anything wrong with a throwaway?


Jake August 16, 2015 at 6:31 am

Hi David, On the Beatles anthology george harrison and george martin were of the opinion that the white album should have been cut down to a single album. I don’t necessarily agree however it got me thinking. If the white album was released as a single album what songs would have been on it? Which songs are the weaker songs that would be left off? How many tracks would be on it? What would the track listing be?


lambert July 14, 2016 at 3:21 pm

while it’s pointless to argue the merits of songs since in the end – or should i say from the beginning? – a person likes what they like, i’m going to do it anyway. john himself said glass onion was a throwaway and he was right – the references are cheap gimmickry. you were unfairly dismissive of continuing story/bungalow bill – it is both more musically and lyrically inventive than the irritating and somewhat embarrassing piggies. i find paul mawkish and insipid, so i’ll just leave martha, i will, and blackbird where they lie.
one thing that stands out about the beatles is the level of excellence in their work, and the small amount of extant songs that never made it onto a beatle album or were gifted to some other act. the wonderful and outstanding thing about the white album is its diversity. to suggest it should be reduced to a single album is to expect of it the pop uniformity other beatles albums already accomplished, and is akin to criticizing indian music for having too many notes. for once i agree with paul: “it’s the beatle’s white album…fuck off”. that said, not guilty would’ve made a far better choice for inclusion than piggies.


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