The Beatles (the actual title of the album ) popularly known as “The White Album“, is the ninth studio album by The Beatles, released on 22 November 1968. A double album, with its plain white sleeve, has no graphics or text other than the band’s name embossed on the front cover and a printed serial number, which was intended as a direct contrast to the vivid cover artwork of the band’s previous LP Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Although no singles were issued from The Beatles in Britain and the United States, the songs “Hey Jude” and “Revolution” originated from the same recording sessions and were issued as a single in August 1968. This year, specifically November 22 2018 marks the 50th anniversary of this comprehensive yet controversial collection of arguably the best and the worst music the band had to offer! Indeed, among the many Beatles-debates we’ve had over the years, our favorite focuses solely on “The White Album” and whether it’s a commanding pinnacle and creative zenith for the band or a bloated, overblown, self-indulgent, cacophony of every song idea that they hadn’t pursued yet, GOOD OR BAD!
As the perceptive reader you are, you have likely identified our position from our subtle introduction above! But, we’ll explain: It’s our opinion that “The White Album” could have been, one spectacular / classic 12 song single disc package! Instead of the 30 song admission that The Beatles were “Believing their own press!” Are You feeling us?
Yep, right here we’re pulling out the Butcher knife, cutting and pruning this “Bloated and self indulged project to a “Classic” single disc!
We will go track by track, dear reader, determining if and why a particular song should be part of the new White Album or be forever forgotten or relegated to some new “Anthology” type project!
But, here’s our favorite part, we need YOU to weigh in with your opinion on what stays and what goes!
So, let’s get started, The album opens with:
1) “Back in the USSR” We don’t think so, it’s just too derivative stealing Hoagy Carmichael’s “Georgia, On My Mind,” while incorporating The Beach Boys’ “California Girls,” as well as Chuck Berry’s Living in the U.S.A. It’s gotta go!
2)” Dear Prudence” One of several songs from The White Album written at the Ashram In Rishikesh India. It’s gotta be part of The New White Album, if only for the beautiful “Chimeing” George pulls off so brilliantly, while blending so well with John’s plaintive vocal! Plus, the back story with Prudence and Mia Farrow is odd and precious! It must stay!
3) “Glass Onion” This is one of our favorites, and it’s the first time we hear Ringo on this album! Ringo had “temporarily quit the band, (due to tensions between the members )so Paul played Drums on the first two tracks! John takes us on a walk down “Beatles Catalog” lane! Including at least 5 classic Beatles titles in the lyric. Plus, it’s a damn good song, written by John! It’s gotta stay!
4) “Ob-La-De- Ob-La-Da” A Paul song that John and George simply hated. They referred to it as “Paul’s Granny Music” YEP! But it’s so uplifting and the whole band sounds like they’re having such a great time! It puts a smile on our face! It stays!
5) “Wild Honey Pie” Jeeze Louise! When was the last time you thought “Gee, I’d love to hear “Wild Honey Pie” right now? We rest our case, this experimental pain in the ear from Paul, Has gotta go, And right now!
6) “The Continuing Story Of Bungalow Bill” Another song from their stay in Rishikesh, written by John! “Bungalow” Bill and his mother were both at the Ashram and Lennon hated them both, John is trying to hard to make an animal rights point, but it gets lost, and he “borrowed “ the songs melody from an old English children’s song (“All the children say” )It’s gotta go and now!
7) “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” Our all time favorite “George” song! A clever , beautiful song from George where he perfected his “Weeping” Guitar sound! PLUS! This song features Eric Clapton adding a little extra guitar work! And, the first time a “non-Beatle, played on a Beatles record! It’s gotta stay!
8) “Happiness is a Warm Gun” This mixed up mish/mash of three or four song fragments never comes together, and the title? When you consider how John died, you can only agree It’s gotta go! Now!
9) “Martha My Dear” A classic “Music Hall” type tune from McCartney with a brass section! Although many folks believe this song was written about his English Sheep Dog, Martha, it’s actually about his relationship with his then girlfriend Jane Asher! A classic Beatles track, It stays!
10) “I’m So Tired” One Of Johns underrated greats and his vocal nails it! Also written in Rishikesh. It is also one of the song’s indicted in the “Paul is dead” theory. As the song fades you can hear John mumble something that sounds like “Paul is dead, miss him, miss him, miss him” OH! And we love John’s Yawn! You’re right, it stays!
11) “Blackbird” Some critics have said that this was Paul “Showing off on guitar” but it’s a beautiful melody and guitar piece with a poignant and contemporary lyric sentiment, especially coming from Paul, and the truth is when asking any guitar player if they’re good or not we frequently ask “Can you play Blackbird? Oh yes, it’s gotta stay!!
12) “Piggies” From George, from India, and we wish it would’ve stayed there, especially with how great “Weeps” is! George gets a little to “Preachy” with his “Orwellian lyrics plus the awful sound of pigs grunting is “All too much” so to speak! It’s gotta go!
13) “Rocky Raccoon” As much as we enjoy how well McCartney paints a picture for us, his “American Western Drawl” is annoying! This could have fit well on his first “Wings” record, But, THIS IS NOT A BEATLES SONG! It’s gotta go
14) Don’t Pass Me By” This one is easy, after all Ringo ( he wrote this one, all by himself) is simply NOT A SONGWRITER! ( you can hear that, right? ) And the fiddle playing? George Martin brought in a Violinist from the London Symphony! A perfect accompaniment don’tja think? PUH-Leeze, It’s gotta go, immediately!
15) “Why Don’t we Do It In The Road” written in Rishikesh when Paul saw two monkeys getting busy right on the sidewalk in front of him! And thought, “Hey that’ll make a GREAT song” Precious Inspiration, or not? We say NOT! It’s gotta go!
16) “I Will” Another simple, beautiful love song from Paul, he actually began working on the song in Rishikesh with Donovan, who was teaching Paul his unique “Finger picking style.” They didn’t get to far, Paul completed the song on his own later in London! And, if you listen closely you can hear Paul “Vocalize” the Bass part. Very cool! It needs to stay!
17)”Julia” This is one of Johns most intimate, personal and beautiful songs about his mother who he lost to a drunk driver when he was 17! Nuff said! It needs to stay!
18)”Birthday” One Of those rare times The Beatles tried an idea and failed! There is just NO WAY this song can compliment or replace “Happy Birthday” It’s way to complicated with too many guitar breaks! It’s gone as well!
19) “Yer Blues” This is Lennon’s deliberate and heavy-handed reaction to a popular topic being debated in the English press at the time! Quite simply, a claim was made that white men can’t play the blues! We’re not sure Lennon proved them wrong! It’s gotta go too
20)”Mother Nature’s Son” From Paul while at the Ashram he claimed it was inspired from an early lecture delivered by The Maharishi! For us that’s reason enough to jettison this dull boy! Buy Bye!
21)”Everybody’s Got something To Hide except For Me And My Monkey” Hell, it’s gotta go just cuz the title is so long! But this is Johns angry “Kiss my ass” song to the English press and the Monkey he’s referring to is his beautiful bride Yoko! And again, this isn’t a Beatles song, John and the Monkey gotta go!
22) “Sexy Sadie” another song from their days’ at The Ashram In India! This is John’s angry comment on what a “ sham” The Maharishi turned out to be. It was originally titled “Maharishi “ but George convinced John to change the title to something a little less obvious! Again, when was the last time you thought “Gee I’d love to hear “Sexy Sadie”! Case rested, Sadie’s gotta go!
23) “ Helter Skelter” This Song from Paul is Paul’s reaction to a newspaper article about how “Hard” The Who could still Rock! ( unlike The Beatles ) Paul’s “We’ll show them” attitude gave us a loud, over screamed rambling waste of time with much of the world especially America, not having a clue as to what a “Helter Skelter is! Lastly as it acquired it’s relationship to Charles Manson, it just shouldn’t be here! It’s gotta go, quietly!
24) “Long, Long, Long” Quite simply is a long song from and about George and his ongoing struggle to become one with God!, and frankly, do you care? It too written in Rishikesh! Got To Go!, please?
25) “Revolution #1” The Beatles recorded three songs with the word “Revolution” in the title during The White Album sessions. This one, an homage to early rock n roll and doo wop is a fun sing along Beatles style! It’s gotta stay!
26) “Honey Pie” Paul at his peak “Dance Hall” “Vaudeville” period witnessed further by “When I’m 64”, “You’r Mother Should Know” “Martha My Dear” The lyric reads like a 40’s movie script, but not a good one! and yet again WHO CARES? She’s gotta go!
27) “Savoy Truffle” George’s Song for his close friend Eric Clapton, his passion for sweats and his “BAD TEETH” Yeeach! Although the horn section and arrangements are very cool, the subject MATTER GROSSES US OUT, Must we? George, Eric, his candy and bad teeth, Gotta Go!
28) “Cry Baby Cry” John’s Song, where the original lyric was “Cry Baby Cry, make your mother buy” Which John took from an advert he saw! But what we like best about this track is the unlisted quiet murmur of a song that Paul improvised and the end of “Cry Baby Cry” The Song Paul is singing is called “Can You Take me back” and it was originally for the “I Will” sessions! Both songs are beautiful and they should stay!
29) “Revolution Number Nine” The most experimental piece the band ever attempted! Much of what you hear are random “Tape Loops” The Band borrowed from the EMI studio’s sound effects vault! Including the repeating “Monotone “NUMBER NINE, NUMBER NINE, NUMBER NINE”. Obviously a Beatles nod and a wink to this being their NINTH album! This song also alludes to the famous “Paul is dead” theory. As the story goes, if you play #9 backwards, the voice sounds like they’re saying “Turn me on Deadman” Go figure! And please report back!
The penultimate song on the album, an annoying, unlistenable, experiment MUST GO! It’s outta here!
30) “Goodnight “ The final track on the album and one of John’s best pieces of work! Written for his son Julian as a lullaby John could put his son to sleep to, it simply succeeds on every level! This beautiful recording features only Ringo backed with a Gordon Jenkins style orchestra and it’s perfect! Yes, a perfect closer to a diverse, complicated, sometimes confusing collection of songs, ideas and attitudes, from four old friends, now on the edge and the brink of fist fights! It must stay, to insure future Beatles Music!
Soooo, dear reader, here it is: The Leaner Meaner, slimmed down and revised “White Album”
And here is your revised Shorter track listing as it would appear on the revised “Single Disc Edition”
Track #1 “Dear Prudence”
Track #2 “Glass Onion”
Track #3 “Ob La Di Ob La Da”
Track #4 “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”
Track #5 “Martha My Dear”
Track #6 “I’m So Tired”
Track #7 “Blackbird “
Track #8 “I Will”
Track #9 “Julia”
Track #10 “Revolution #1”
Track #11 “Cry Baby Cry”/“Can You Take me Back”
Track #12 “Goodnight”
There you have it, a classic, 12 Track Album, that would enter into the other debate: Which Beatle Album is your favorite, Rubber Soul or Revolver? But now the competition for favorite Beatle Album include’s “The White Album!
Post Script: Over the years many “Beatles Experts” have made the claim, that at this point in time and intensity with The Beatles, they each needed to focus on their own personal direction and Muse! The White Album, with all of it’s flaws of abundance was an absolute necessity if there was ever to be more Beatles music and any sense of friendship!
Now, please share your thoughts on what stays / what goes / or what ever!
Yeah, Yeah, YEAH!