Lady Madonna - The Beatles

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"Lady Madonna" - The Beatles (1968)

Recorded in February 1968, "Lady Madonna" is generally considered to be a tribute to working class womanhood. McCartney said that he had seen a picture of an African lady with a baby, and under the picture it read: “Mountain Madonna.”

Ringo commented on the track:

“It sounds like Elvis, doesn’t it. No, it doesn’t sound like Elvis- it IS Elvis.”

In the mid-90s McCartney said the song was “me sitting down at the piano trying to wite a bluesy boogie-woogie thing. It was my Fats Domino impression. It took my voice to a very odd place.”

The song marked the transition from the surrealism of 1967 to a 'returning-to-roots' in 1968, with its boggie-woogie piano chords and brass section.

The main riff was lifted from Johnny Parker’s piano playing on the instrumental “Bad Penny Blues” a 1956 hit in Britain for jazz trumpeter Humphrey Lyttelton and his band, that was produced by George Martin.

Ringo suggested recording a track just with the brushes on his drums and the piano. The song introduces its bass-line riff on Paul’s piano, and then doubles it with bass and John and George’s fuzz guitars played in unison. It even goes one step further with saxes joining in later on. From the perspective of its arrangement- it is a musical masterpiece as a relatively large quotient of the track is taken up by primarily instrumental interludes.  

The lyrics are conspicuously clever. Friday night's arrival without a suitcase, for example, is a blend of the abstract and concrete reminiscent of a certain face kept in a jar by the door. Not to mention those stockings which, pun-like, "run just like a child who has learned to tie his boot lace"; wait a minute — or was it, "like pigs from a gun"? 

The song expresses a sympathy and empathy for the harried, economically oppressive of single mothers decades before  they were discovered by journalists and sociologists.

In his characterization of Lady Madonna’s brood, Paul explicitly invokes “Monday’s Child,” the time-honored nursery rhyme about childhood destiny that was originally published in September 1887 in Harper’s Weekly:

Monday’s child is fair of face. / Tuesday’s child is full of grace. / Wednesday’s child is loving and giving. / Thursday’s child works hard for a living, / Friday’s child is full of woe. / Saturday’s child has far to go. / But the child that is born on Sabbath-day / Is bonny and happy and wise and gay.”

There is no Sabbath, no day of rest for Lady Madonna.

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