The Beatles

Hey Rude!

Photography: Getty Images

The stories behind some Beatles songs are for adults only 

“Ticket to Ride”

No, this one isn’t about being a good citizen and paying for public transport. The title refers to cards indicating a clean bill of health that Hamburg prostitutes had to carry with them in the 1960s. The Beatles spent almost two years honing their skills along the Reeperbahn

“Tomorrow Never Knows” 

“Tomorrow Never Knows” was the final track on The Beatle’s 1966 album Revolver and well ahead of its time with its psychedelic sound. Lennon was high on LSD when he wrote it, with lyrics inspired by The Psychedelic Experience, Timothy Leary’s drug-taking manual adapted from Tibetan Book Of The Dead.

“I am the walrus”

One of the most obscure songs The Beatles ever wrote and was the result of three different songs Lennon was working on at the time. As one song it didn’t make much sense, but dissected it had meaning. When they sing of ‘the egg man’ for example, it refers to fellow musician Eric Burdon of The Animals, who had a girlfriend who broke an egg over him and then devoured it. 

“Penny Lane” 

“A four of fish and finger pies” - While this lyric may sound harmless at first glance, it is full of double meaning. The line is a humorous combination of two British terms and the wordplay is often lost on American audiences. “A four of fish” was a common order size for fish and chips. “Finger pie” was a sexual slang term of the time equivalent to “heavy petting”. 

“Sexy Sadie”

Lennon originally wanted to title the song “Maharishi”, but changed the title to “Sexy Sadie” at George Harrison’s request. In 1968 The Beatles travelled to India to learn meditation from Maharishi Mahesh Yogi as well as how to play the sitar. Lennon became disillusioned after Maharishi had allegedly made a sexual advance towards Mia Farrow while attending the course the Maharishi was teaching at his ashram. Things ended up turning sour, and the reasons can be heard in “Sexy Sadie”. 

Read more
02 2015 The Red Bulletin 

Next story