Hey Bulldog - The Beatles

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"Hey Bulldog" - The Beatles (1968)

Written primarily by John Lennon, “Hey Bulldog” is one of the very few Beatle songs to revolve around a piano riff.

In 1994, McCartney said of the song:

I remember it being one of John’s songs and I helped him finish it off in the studio, but it’s mainly his vibe. There’s a little rap at the end between John and I, we went into a crazy little thing at the end. We always tried to make every song different because we figured, ‘Why write something like the last one? We’ve done that.’ We were on a ladder so there was never any sense of stepping down a rung, or even staying on the same rung, it was better to move one rung ahead.

When the group reconvened in the studio in May 1968 its cohesion had already been undermined by the business, artistic, and personal differences. Yet engineer Geoff Emerick mentions in his autobiography how this was the last track The Beatles recorded that featured a team dynamic with enthusiasm from every member.

He writes:

“Paul’s bass line was probably the most inventive of any he’d done since Sgt. Pepper, and it was really well played. Harrison’s solo was sparkling, too- one of the few times that he nailed it right away. His amp was turned up really loud, and he used one of his new fuzz boxes, which made his guitar absolutely scream.”

Says music critic Michael Shapiro:

“Hey Bulldog is unique in that it is one of few Beatles songs to feature heavy piano, as well as an exceptional bass presence. Lennon displays raspier and raw, but nonetheless brilliant vocals during the song’s memorable chorus.”

The backing track includes a relatively small complement of piano, bass, drums, and lead guitar. The incessant pounding eighth note piano chords moves the song forward as does the bouncing off the walls bass line.

Over time, The Beatles became very sophisticated and deliberate about creating opportunities for the occurrence of accidents and coincidences, which could then be integrated into their finished work. For instance, “Hey Bulldog” was originally to be called “Hey Bullfrog” but during one of their recording sessions, Paul began to make barking noises in order to make John laugh; the barking noises were picked up by the recording equipment and then integrated into the song itself, which was then re-named “Hey Bulldog.”

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