The Beatles - Glass Onion
John Lennon wrote this song as an answer to Beatles fans who look for meanings in the Beatles’ music. He deliberately referenced other Beatles songs such as “I am The Walrus,” “Strawberry Fields Forever,” “Lady Madonna,” “The Fool on the Hill,” and “Fixing a Hole” because Lennon disliked people who over-interpret his songs.
“That’s me, just doing a throwaway song, à la Walrus, à la everything I’ve ever written. I threw the line in - ‘the Walrus was Paul’ - just to confuse everybody a bit more. And I thought Walrus has now become me, meaning ‘I am the one.’ Only it didn’t mean that in this song. It could have been ‘the fox terrier is Paul,’ you know. I mean, it’s just a bit of poetry. It was just thrown in like that.” - John Lennon
The Beatles - The Ballad of John and Yoko
Written by John Lennon about his marriage to Yoko Ono, it was recorded only in a day in Abbey Road studios by just Lennon and Paul McCartney.
“Well, guess who wrote that? I wrote that in Paris on our honeymoon. It’s a piece of journalism. It’s a folk song. That’s why I called it The Ballad Of.” - John Lennon
“John was in an impatient mood so I was happy to help. It’s quite a good song; it has always surprised me how with just the two of us on it, it ended up sounding like The Beatles.” - Paul McCartney
Prior to its release, Lennon sent a memo to Apple’s plugger Tony Bramwell to avoid pre-publicity of the song because he feared that the “Christ, you know it ain’t easy” might cause yet another Lennon vs. religion controversy.
“Tony - No pre-publicity on Ballad Of John & Yoko especially the ‘Christ’ bit - so don’t play it round too much or you’ll frighten people - get it pressed first.
John” - Lennon’s memo to Bramwell
The Beatles - Revolution 1
“I wanted to put out what I felt about revolution. I thought it was time we fucking spoke about it, the same as I thought it was about time we stopped not answering about the Vietnamese war when we were on tour with Brian Epstein and had to tell him, ‘We’re going to talk about the war this time, and we’re not going to just waffle.’ I wanted to say what I thought about revolution. I had been thinking about it up in the hills in India. I still had this ‘God will save us’ feeling about it, that it’s going to be all right. That’s why I did it: I wanted to talk, I wanted to say my piece about revolution. I wanted to tell you, or whoever listens, to communicate, to say ‘What do you say? This is what I say.’” - John Lennon
As a result of Lennon wanting the song to be released as a single, and McCartney being unsure about releasing a political song as a single, a faster version of Revolution was released as the B-side for Hey Jude.
The Beatles - Act Naturally
“Act Naturally” was the last cover version recorded by the Beatles until in 1969 for the Get Back sessions. It was written by Johnny Russell and Voni Morrison, and was first released in 1963. The Beatles’ cover was released in 1965 as the b-side for the “Yesterday” single. In 1966, it appeared on the Yesterday… and Today album.
“I sang Act Naturally in Help! I found it on a Buck Owens record and I said, ‘This is the one I am going to be doing,’ and they said ‘OK’. We were listening to all kinds of things.” - Ringo Starr
The Beatles - Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!
John Lennon bought an 1843 Victorian circus poster while the Beatles were in Kent, and used it as an inspiration for a song. He changed some facts about the actual circus to the one being portrayed in the song: the circus was coming to Bishopsgate (the real one was coming to Rochdale), and the horse’s name is Henry.
“I wrote that as a pure poetic job, to write a song sitting there. I had to write because it was time to write. And I had to write it quick because otherwise I wouldn’t have been on the album. So I had to knock off a few songs. I knocked off A Day In The Life, or my section of it, and whatever we were talking about, Mr Kite, or something like that. I was very paranoid in those days, I could hardly move […]There were all kinds of stories about Henry the Horse being heroin. I had never seen heroin in that period.” - John Lennon
The Beatles - The Long and Winding Road
“The album was finished a year ago, but a few months ago American record producer Phil Spector was called in by John Lennon to tidy up some of the tracks. But a few weeks ago, I was send a re-mixed version of my song The Long And Winding Road, with harps, horns, an orchestra and women’s choir added. No one had asked me what I thought. I couldn’t believe it. I would never have female voices on a Beatles record. The record came with a note from Allen Klein saying he thought the changes were necessary. I don’t blame Phil Spector for doing it but it just goes to show that it’s no good me sitting here thinking I’m in control because obviously I’m not. Anyway I’ve sent Klein a letter asking for some of the things to be altered, but I haven’t received an answer yet.” - Paul McCartney
The letter was included in the Anthology book. Dated April 14, 1970, and addressed to Allen Klein, the letter read as follows:
In future no one will be allowed to add to or subtract from a recording of one of my songs without my permission.
I had considered orchestrating The Long And Winding Road but I had decided against it. I therefore want it altered to these specifications:-
1. Strings, horns, voices and all added noises to be reduced in volume.
2. Vocal and Beatle instrumentation to be brought up in volume.
3. Harp to be removed completely at the end of the song and original piano notes to be substituted.
4. Don’t ever do it again.
c.c. Phil Spector
The version without the overdubs was released as part of the Let It Be… Naked album.
The Beatles - I’ve Just Seen a Face
Paul wrote this song at Jane Asher’s parent’s house on Wimpole Street, London. Paul’s aunt, Aunt Jin, liked the song very much, the song had the title “Auntie Jin’s Theme” until the lyrics were completed.
“It was slightly country and western from my point of view. It was faster, though, it was a strange uptempo thing. I was quite pleased with it. The lyric works: it keeps dragging you forward, it keeps pulling you to the next line, there’s an insistent quality to it that I liked.” - Paul McCartney
The Beatles - I Want to Tell You
George’s third song on Revolver, he later said the song’s “about the avalanche of thoughts that are so hard to write down or say or transmit.”
The song was recorded under the working title Laxton’s Superb, a type of apple. It later became known as I Don’t Know, after George Martin inquired of Harrison whether he had come up with a title.
The following dialogue exchange is from the short film, The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions.
George Martin: What are you going to call it, George?
George Harrison: I don’t know.
John Lennon: Granny Smith Part Friggin’ Two! You’ve never had a title for any of your songs!