SGT. PEPPER'S LONELY HEARTS CLUB BAND
JOHN 1980: "'Sgt. Pepper' is Paul after a trip
to America and the whole West Coast long-named group thing was
coming in. You know, when people were no longer the Beatles or
the Crickets-- they were suddenly Fred And His Incredible
Shrinking Grateful Airplanes, right? So I think he got
influenced by that and came up with this idea for the Beatles."
PAUL 1984: "It was an idea I had, I think, when I was
flying from L.A. to somewhere. I thought it would be nice to
lose our identities, to submerge ourselves in the persona of a
fake group. We would make up all the culture around it and
collect all our heroes in one place. So I thought, A typical
stupid-sounding name for a Dr. Hook's Medicine Show and
Traveling Circus kind of thing would be 'Sgt. Pepper's Lonely
Hearts Club Band.' Just a word game, really."
PAUL circa-1994: "We were fed up with being Beatles. We
really hated that f---ing four little mop-top boys approach. We
were not boys, we were men. It was all gone, all that boy s--t,
all that screaming, we didn't want anymore, plus, we'd now got
turned on to pot and thought of ourselves as artists rather than
just performers... then suddenly on the plane I got this idea. I
thought, 'Let's not be ourselves. Let's develop alter egos so
we're not having to project an image which we know. It would be
much more free.'"
WITH A LITTLE HELP FROM MY FRIENDS
JOHN 1970: "Paul had the line about 'a little help
from my friends.' He had some kind of structure for it, and we
wrote it pretty well fifty-fifty from his original idea."
JOHN 1980: "That's Paul, with a little help from me.
'What do you see when you turn out the light/ I can't tell you
but I know it's mine' is mine."
PAUL circa-1994: "This was written out at John's house in
Weybridge for Ringo... I think that was probably the best of our
songs that we wrote for Ringo actually. I remember giggling with
John as we wrote the lines, 'What do you see when you turn out
the light/ I can't tell you but I know it's mine.' It could have
been him playing with his willie under the covers, or it could
have been taken on a deeper level. This is what it meant but it
was a nice way to say it-- a very non-specific way to say it. I
always liked that."
LUCY IN THE SKY WITH DIAMONDS
JOHN 1980: "My son Julian came in one day with a
picture he painted about a school friend of his named Lucy. He
had sketched in some stars in the sky and called it 'Lucy in the
Sky with Diamonds,' Simple. The images were from 'Alice in
Wonderland.' It was Alice in the boat. She is buying an egg and
it turns into Humpty Dumpty. The woman serving in the shop turns
into a sheep and the next minute they are rowing in a rowing
boat somewhere and I was visualizing that. There was also the
image of the female who would someday come save me... a 'girl
with kaleidoscope eyes' who would come out of the sky. It turned
out to be Yoko, though I hadn't met Yoko yet. So maybe it should
be 'Yoko in the Sky with Diamonds.' It was purely unconscious
that it came out to be LSD. Until somebody pointed it out, I
never even thought it, I mean, who would ever bother to look at
initials of a title? It's NOT an acid song. The imagery was
Alice in the boat and also the image of this female who would
come and save me-- this secret love that was going to come one
day. So it turned out to be Yoko... and I hadn't met Yoko then.
But she was my imaginary girl that we all have."
PAUL circa-1994: "I went up to John's house in Weybridge.
When I arrived we were having a cup of tea, and he said, 'Look
at this great drawing Julian's done. Look at the title!' So I
said, 'What's that mean?' thinking Wow, fantastic title! John
said, 'It's Lucy, a freind of his from school. And she's in the
sky.' ...so we went upstairs and started writing it. People
later thought 'Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds' was LSD. I swear--
we didn't notice that when it first came out."
JOHN 1980: "It is a diary form of writing. All that 'I
used to be cruel to my woman, I beat her and kept her apart from
the things that she loved' was me. I used to be cruel to my
woman, and physically... any woman. I was a hitter. I couldn't
express myself and I hit. I fought men and I hit women. That is
why I am always on about peace, you see. It is the most violent
people who go for love and peace. Everything's the opposite. But
I sincerely believe in love and peace. I am a violent man who
has learned not to be violent and regrets his violence. I will
have to be a lot older before I can face in public how I treated
women as a youngster."
PAUL 1984: "Wrote that at my house in St. John's Wood.
All I remember is that I said, 'It's getting better all the
time,' and John contributed the legendary line 'It couldn't get
much worse.' Which I thought was very good. Against the spirit
of that song, which was all super-optimistic... then there's
that lovely little sardonic line. Typical John."
FIXING A HOLE
PAUL 1967: "It's really about the fans who hang around
outside your door day and night. 'See the people standing there/
They worry me, and never win/ And wonder why they don't get in
my door.' If they only knew the best way to get in is not to do
that, because obviously anyone who is going to be straight and
be like a real friend is going to get in... but they simply
stand there and give off the impression, 'Dont let us in.' I
actually do enjoy having them in. I used to do it more, but I
don't as much now because I invited one in once and the next day
she was in The Daily Mirror with her mother saying we were going
to get married."
JOHN 1980: "That's Paul... again writing a good lyric."
PAUL 1984: "Yeah, I wrote that. I liked that one. Strange
story, though. The night we went to record that, a guy turned up
at my house who announced himself as Jesus. So I took him to the
session. You know-- couldn't harm, I thought. Introduced Jesus
to the guys. Quite reasonable about it. But that was it. Last we
ever saw of Jesus."
SHE'S LEAVING HOME(Lennon/McCartney)
PAUL 1984: "I wrote that. My kind of ballad from that
period. One of my daughters likes that. Still works. The other
thing I remember is that George Martin was offended that I used
another arranger. He was busy and I was itching to get on with
it; I was inspired. I think George had a lot of difficulty
forgiving me for that. It hurt him; I didn't mean to."
BEING FOR THE BENEFIT OF MR KITE
JOHN 1968: "'Mr. Kite' was a straight lift. I had all
the words staring me in the face one day when I was looking for
a song. It was from this old poster I'd bought at an antique
shop. We'd been down to Surrey or somewhere filming a piece.
There was a break, and I went into this shop and bought an old
poster advertising a variety show which starred Mr. Kite. It
said the Henderson's would also be there, late of Pablo Fanques
Fair. There would be hoops and horses and someone going through
a hogs head of real fire. Then there was Henry the Horse. The
band would start at ten to six. All at Bishopsgate. Look,
there's the bill-- with Mr. Kite topping it. I hardly made up a
word, just connecting the lists together. Word for word,
JOHN 1972: "The story that Henry the Horse meant 'heroin'
JOHN 1980: "It's all just from that poster. The song is
pure, like a painting. A pure watercolor."
WITHIN YOU WITHOUT YOU(Harrison)
GEORGE 1967: "I'm writing more songs now that we're
not touring. The words are always a bit of a hangup for me. I'm
not very poetic. 'Within You Without You' was written after
dinner one night at Klaus Voorman's house. He had a harmonium,
which I hadn't played before. I was doodling on it when the tune
started to come. The first sentence came out of what we'd been
doing that evening... 'We were talking.' That's as far as I got
that night. I finished the rest of the words later at home."
JOHN 1967: "George has done a great indian one. We came
along one night and he had about 400 indian fellas playing, and
it was a great swinging event, as they say."
JOHN 1980: "One of George's best songs. One of my
favorites of his, too. He's clear on that song. His mind and his
music are clear. There is his innate talent. He brought that
WHEN I'M SIXTY FOUR(Lennon/McCartney)
JOHN 1967: "'When I'm Sixty Four' was something Paul
wrote in the Cavern days. We just stuck in a few more words,
like 'grandchildren on your knee,' and 'Vera Chuck and Dave.' It
was just one of those ones that he'd had, that we've all got,
really-- half a song. And this was just one of those that was
quite a hit with us. We used to do it when the amps broke down,
just sing it on the piano."
JOHN 1972: "I think I helped Paul with some of the
JOHN 1980: "Paul's, completely. I would never dream of
writing a song like that. There's some things I never think
about, and that's one of them.
PAUL 1984: "I wrote the tune when I was about 15, I
think, on the piano at home, before I moved from Liverpool. It
was kind of a cabaret tune. Then, years later, I put words to
PAUL circa-1994: "I thought it was a good little tune but
it was too vaudvillian, so I had to get some cod lines to take
the sting out of it, and put the tongue very firmly in cheek."
JOHN 1980: "That's Paul writing a pop song. He makes 'em
up like a novelist. You hear lots of McCartney-influenced songs
on the radio now. These stories about boring people doing boring
things-- being postmen and secretaries and writing home. I'm not
interested in writing third-party songs. I like to write about
me, 'cuz I know me."
PAUL 1984: "Yeah, that was mine. It was based on the
American meter maid. And I got the idea to just... you know, so
many of my things, like 'When I'm Sixty-Four' and those, they're
tongue in cheek! But they get taken for real! And similarly with
'Lovely Rita' --the idea of a parking-meter attendant's being
sexy was tongue in cheek at the time."
GOOD MORNING GOOD MORNING
JOHN 1967: "I often sit at the piano, working at songs
with the television on low in the background. If I'm a bit low
and not getting much done, the words from the telly come
through. That's when I heard the words, 'Good Morning Good
JOHN 1968: "We write about our past. 'Good Morning, Good
Morning,' I was never proud of it. I just knocked it off to do a
song. But it was writing about my past so it does get the kids
because it was me at school, my whole bit."
JOHN 1972: "A bit of gobbledygook, but nice words."
PAUL 1984: "'Good Morning' --John's. That was our first
major use of sound effects, I think. We had horses and chickens
and dogs and all sorts running through it."
A DAY IN THE LIFE(Lennon/McCartney)
JOHN 1967: "I was writing the song with the 'Daily
Mail' propped up in front of me on the piano. I had it open to
the 'News In Brief' or whatever they call it. There was a
paragraph about four thousand holes being discovered in
Blackburn Lancashire. And when we came to record the song there
was still one word missing from that verse... I knew the line
had to go, 'Now they know how many holes it takes to
--something-- the Albert Hall.' For some reason I couldn't think
of the verb. What did the holes do to the Albert Hall? It was
Terry Doran who said 'fill' the Albert Hall. And that was it.
Then we thought we wanted a growing noise to lead back into the
first bit. We wanted to think of a good end and we had to decide
what sort of backing and instruments would sound good. Like all
our songs, they never become an entity until the very end. They
are developed all the time as we go along."
JOHN 1968: "'A Day in the Life' --that was something. I
dug it. It was a good piece of work between Paul and me. I had
the 'I read the news today' bit, and it turned Paul on. Now and
then we really turn each other on with a bit of song, and he
just said 'yeah' --bang bang, like that. It just sort of
happened beautifully, and we arranged it and rehearsed it, which
we don't often do, the afternoon before. So we all knew what we
were playing, we all got into it. It was a real groove, the
whole scene on that one. Paul sang half of it and I sang half. I
needed a middle-eight for it, but Paul already had one there."
JOHN 1980: "Just as it sounds: I was reading the paper
one day and I noticed two stories. One was the Guinness heir who
killed himself in a car. That was the main headline story. He
died in London in a car crash. On the next page was a story
about 4000 holes in Blackburn, Lancashire. In the streets, that
is. They were going to fill them all. Paul's contribution was
the beautiful little lick in the song 'I'd love to turn you on.'
I had the bulk of the song and the words, but he contributed
this little lick floating around in his head that he couldn't
use for anything. I thought it was a damn good piece of work."
PAUL 1984: "That was mainly John's, I think. I remember
being very conscious of the words 'I'd love to turn you on' and
thinking, Well, that's about as risque as we dare get at this
point. Well, the BBC banned it. It said, 'Now they know how many
holes it takes to fill the Albert Hall' or something. But I mean
that there was nothing vaguely rude or naughty in any of that.
'I'd love to turn you on' was the rudest line in the whole
thing. But that was one of John's very good ones. I wrote...
that was co-written. The orchestra crescendo and that was based
on some of the ideas I'd been getting from Stockhausen and
people like that, which is more abstract. So we told the
orchestra members to just start on their lowest note and end on
their highest note and go in their own time... which orchestras
are frightened to do. That's not the tradition. But we got 'em
to do it."
PAUL 1988: "Then I went around to all the trumpet players
and said, 'Look all you've got to do is start at the beginning
of the 24 bars and go through all the notes on your instrument
from the lowest to the highest-- and the highest has to happen
on that 24th bar, that's all. So you can blow 'em all in that
first thing and then rest, then play the top one there if you
want, or you can steady them out.' And it was interesting
because I saw the orchestra's characters. The strings were like
sheep-- they all looked at each other: 'Are you going up? I am!'
and they'd all go up together, the leader would take them all
up. The trumpeters were much wilder."
ON RECORDING (DURING THE 'SGT. PEPPER' PERIOD)
GEORGE 1967: "Now that we only play in the studios,
and not anywhere else, we have less of a clue what we're going
to do. Now when we go into the studio we have to start from
scratch, just thrashing it out and doing it the hard way. If
Paul has written a song, he comes into the studio with it in his
head. It's very hard for him to give it to us, and for us to get
it. When we suggest something, it might not be what he wants
because he hasn't got it in his head like that. So it takes a
long time. Nobody knows what the tunes sound like until we've
recorded them and listen to them afterwards.
GEORGE 1967: "When we make a record, we may be knocked
out by it when we first do it... but then when we listen to it a
few times we begin to feel that it's not as good as we think it
is. That's the way it happens. With the Revolver album, when we
first did it, we were just really knocked out with lots of the
tracks. But then, by the time the record is issued, we're a bit
fed up with it and looking towards recording the new one."
JOHN 1967: "Sgt Pepper is one of the most important steps
in our career. It had to be just right. We tried, and I think
succeeded in achieving what we set out to do. If we hadn't, then
it wouldn't be out now."
JOHN 1968: "We didn't really shove the album full of pot
and drugs, but I mean, there WAS an effect. We were more
consciously trying to keep it out. You wouldn't say, 'I had some
acid, baby, so groovy.' But there was a feeling that something
had happened between Revolver and Sgt Pepper."
JOHN 1972: "Pepper was just another psychedelic image.
Beatle haircuts and boots were just as big as flowered pants in
their time. I never felt that when Pepper came out,
Haight-Ashbury was a direct result. It always seemed to me that
they were all happening at once. Kids were already wearing army
jackets on King's Road-- all we did is make them famous."
PAUL 1974: "Then the
'this-little-bit-if-you-play-it-backwards' stuff. As I say, nine
times out of ten it's really nothing. Take the end of Sgt
Pepper. Some fans came around to my door, giggling. They said,
'Is it true, that bit at the end? Is it true? It says, WeŽll
f--- you like Supermen.' I said, 'No, youŽre kidding. I havenŽt
heard it, but IŽll play it.' It was just some piece of
conversation that was recorded and turned backwards. But I went
inside after IŽd seen them and played it studiously, turned it
backwards with my thumb against the motor-- turned the motor off
and did it backwards. And there it was, sure as anything, plain
as anything. 'WeŽll f--- you like Supermen.' I thought, 'Jesus,
what can you do?'"
RINGO 1976: "We'd finished touring in '66 to go into the
studio where we could hear each other... and create any fantasy
that came out of anybody's brain."
GEORGE 1977: "Sgt Pepper was only a four-track. Well, we
had an orchestra on a separate four-track machine in 'Day In The
Life.' We tried to sync them up. I remember-- they kept going
out of sync in playback, so we had to remix it."
PAUL 1988: "EMI had very firm rules... which we always
had to break. It wasn't a willful arrogance, it was just that we
felt we knew better. They'd say, 'Well our rule book says..' and
we'd say, 'They're out of date, come on, let's move!' We were
always forcing them into things they didn't want to do... we
were always pushing ahead: 'Louder, further, longer, more,
different.' I always wanted things to be different because we
knew that people, generally, always want to move on. And if we
hadn't pushed them, the guys would have stuck by their rule