I Am the Walrus - The Beatles

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"I Am the Walrus" - The Beatles (1967)

"I Am the Walrus" was a compilation of three songs that Lennon was working on at the same time. He was angry that it was placed on the B side of McCartney’s "Hello, Goodbye"-a tune which he would tag as “typical Paul.”

George Martin called "I Am the Walrus" “a piece of organized chaos.”

Harrison said in 1967:

“People look for all sorts of meanings. It’s serious, but it’s also not serious. It’s true, but it’s also a joke.”

In 1968, Lennon remarked:

“We write lyrics, and I write lyrics that you don’t realize what they mean till after. Especially some of the better songs or some of the more flowing ones, like Walrus. The words don’t mean a lot. People draw so many conclusions that are ridiculous.”

In 1980 he had a completely different view:

“I was writing obscurely, a la Dylan, in those days. It’s from ‘the Walrus and the Carpenter’ Alice in Wonderland. To me, it was a beautiful poem. It never dawned on me that Lewis Carroll was commenting on the capitalist and social system. Later, I went back and look at it and realized that the walrus was the bad guy in the story and the carpenter was the good guy. I thought, Oh, shit, I picked the wrong guy, I should have said ‘I am the carpenter.’ But that wouldn’t have been the same, would it?”

The melody consisted largely of just two notes. The vocals were supplied by sixteen outside singers. Ringo provides- as usual- provides the incredible heartbeat/ backbeat that holds it all together as a cohesive whole.

George Martin serves up a quirky and original arrangement for brass, violins, cellos, and vocal ensemble, and was responsible for the choir of voices that swoop in and out of the song.

Author Mark Hertsgaard described the sound “like cathedral gargoyles suddenly come alive to torment parishioners with keening wails and mocking laughter: ‘ho-ho-ho, hee-hee-hee, ha-ha-ah’.

He writes:

“With his classical training, George Martin’s score was tight and purposeful, never lapsing into dead-ended esoterica. The vision articulated in Lennon’s lyric was cosmic, almost infinite in its dimensions and Martin reinforced this perspective, asserting a grand sense of scale so confidently that the unadorned rhythm track sounds puny by comparison.”

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