Deep Dive: The White Album
The Beatles' only album is 1968 is a double-album...either known as "The White Album" or "The Beatles." It features 30 songs and is known more-so as the album that everyone worked on individually, than a collaborative traditional Beatles album.
The group was going through the stress of working together and the curiosity of moving forward individually. This album, is the result of that stress.
The album starts off with Paul's "Back In The U.S.S.R." It's a rock hit that fans at Paul's show LOVE. He usually does it during his encore and it's a real rocker.
"Dear Prudence" is up next and it's a John song that is much softer and more delicate than Paul's USSR. There is also a beautiful rendition of the song in The Beatles' inspired film, Across the Universe.
"Glass Onion" is the third track on this masterpiece. This is a funny song--it's literally Lennon listing off a bunch of red herring's for his fans who dig too deep into his lyrics. “Well, that was a joke, that was a bit of a song, you know. I mean, it was actually me in the Walrus suit. I thought I’d confuse people who read great depths into lyrics. It could have been ‘The fox terrier was Paul,’ you know. It’s just a bit of poetry. It was just thrown in like that. The line was put in partly because I was feeling guilty because I was with Yoko, and I was leaving Paul. It’s, you know, a perverse way of saying to Paul, you know, ‘Here, have a crumb, this illusion, this stroke, because I’m leaving'” (Lennon).
Song number four is another classic for Paul at his shows. "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da." It's said to be Paul's attempt at ska music.
"Wild Honey Pie" is a 53 second long song that Paul recorded by himself after being in a jam group in India.
"The Continuing Story Of Bungalow Bill" was “written about a guy in Maharishi’s meditation camp who took a short break to go shoot a few poor tigers, and then came back to commune with God. There used to be a character called Jungle Jim and I combined him with Buffalo Bill. It’s a sort of teenage social-comment song and a bit of a joke. Yoko’s on that one, I believe, singing along.”-John Lennon.
Next up is perhaps George's best Beatle work. "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" is a classic that George wrote based on a phrase he saw in a random book. Or something like that. I remember reading that in I Me Mine. He did a great performance of the song at his Concert for Bangladesh concert. The song features Eric Clapton on lead guitar.
"Happiness Is A Warm Gun" was always one of my favorites on this album as it features Lennon's vocals over a softer production. Critics speculated that the song was about heroin use, but Lennon denied that claim. "“Happiness is a Warm Gun” was another one which was banned on the radio – they said it was about shooting up drugs. But they were advertising guns and I thought it was so crazy that I made a song out of it. It wasn’t about ‘H’ at all" (Lennon).
Paul's "Martha My Dear" is a song written about his dog. It's his attempt at writing something as complex as "Happiness," as it is a challenge to play on piano, said McCartney.
"I'm So Tired" is the tenth song on the album. John sings it, and it's always been another of my favorites. Hence the title, it's a song about insomnia and his inability to sleep when away from Yoko.
"Blackbird" is Paul's song about the trouble women of color were put through. It was his attempt at giving some hope and being empathetic against the racism of the time. It's another classic that when he performs it, the whole crowd gets up and sings along.
"Piggies" is another George song on the album where he speaks metaphorically about greed and capitalism. It's based on the book Animal Farm. "The sound on this song is a baroque sound much like 1800’s classical music, passive aggressively taking on a dark subject with a light innocuous sound" (Genius).
"Rocky Raccoon" is Paul's attempt at American folk music. I love this song.
Next up is one from Ringo. It's either my favorite or second favorite Ringo song ever. "Don't Pass Me By" is a country/western style song with hints of bluegrass violin. It's also the first song Ringo wrote by himself for The Beatles.
"Why Don't We Do It In The Road?" was inspired by McCartney after he witnessed two monkeys having sex in the roads of India. John Lennon was deeply offended that McCartney chose not to ask for his help in recording this song. When confronted, McCartney pointed out that Lennon behaved in the same way with "Julia" and "Revolution 9." Petty!
"I Will" is another favorite of mine for Paul. The lyrics are sweet and the sound is soft. It's the epitome of Paul's sound.
"Julia" is a song John wrote to his mother of the same name. I always loved the opening lyrics, "half of what I say is meaningless, but I say it just to reach you, Julia." It's a song about the childhood he never had...and sort of his love for Yoko.
"Birthday" is the first track on the second disc. It's another rock anthem by Paul and a favorite at his shows during his encore. "Yes we're going to a party, party!"
"Yer Blues" is a dark song by Lennon but it's one I like. It has a bluesy sound and his voice is perfect here. I always loved the lyrics, "my mother was of the sky, my father was of the Earth, but I am of the universe, and you know what it's worth!"
"Mother Nature's Son" is another short song inspired by an India trip.
Arguably one of Lennon's best songs on this disc..."Everybody's Got Something To Hide Except For Me And My Monkey" is a rock and roll anthem. Lennon considered it a throwaway as the lyrics were too simple. Most fans will disagree with him on that.
"Sexy Sadie" is another Indian inspired song. Apparently, the song originally was supposed to be called Maharishi. "Notice that se-xy-sa-die is the same number of syllables as ma-ha-ri-shi. The original lyrics said ‘Maharishi’ instead of ‘Sexy Sadie’, but Harrison convinced Lennon to change it" (Genius).
Another rocker by Paul, "Helter Skelter," is his response to critics saying he only wrote love songs. He does this one in concert sometimes too, and yeah...the crowd loves it.
"Long, Long, Long" is one that I feel is very underrated. It's a Harrison song and is very spiritual and soft. It's a more recent favorite of mine.
"Revolution 1" is a great one. Most people know this song. Much different sound than "Revolution" and completely different than "Revolution 9." "Well, ya know, we all wanna change the world." Great timeless lyrics.
"Honey Pie" is kind of a sleeper for me. Never got super into it. It's Paul, though.
"Savoy Truffle" is another I love by George. It's about chocolates. "At that time [Clapton] had a lot of cavities in his teeth and needed dental work. He always had toothache but he ate a lot of chocolates – he couldn’t resist them and once he saw a box he had to eat them all" (Harrison).
"Cry Baby Cry" is another soft one that I like. Lennon got the inspiration for the lyrics from an advertisement and the nursery rhymes told to him as a kid. Later on, he named this one of his “Throwaway Songs”, which he had a lot of (Genius).
Next up...is..."Revolution 9." I have actually listened all the way through. I don't have anything to say about this one.
The last song is my other favorite Ringo song ever. "Good Night" is another underrated Beatles track, I think. It's also the perfect ending to the album. The song was written as a lullaby for John's son, Julian. There's an orchestral arrangement undertone on this record, transporting listeners to Hollywood. I really wished he had sang this when I saw him in Atlanta, but he may not have the rights to do so.
I absolutely love this record. I love how they worked independently and still created this cohesive huge album. There are some real gems on this album by all four Beatles. There are some real statements being made, and just some fun being had. The variety is what makes this album such a classic. There's something for everybody on The White Album. Also, I love the photograph inserts. I have them displayed in my bedroom.