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More Beatles Lyrics Explained: Magical Mystery Tour Edition

More Beatles Lyrics Explained: Magical Mystery Tour Edition

By Brandon Specktor

When plumbing the Beatles' vast catalog, Magical Mystery Tour is easily overlooked. At that point in the band's career, they could have released twelve tracks of John Lennon eating Indian food and sneezing violently into a microphone and still guaranteed a platinum hit (they later attempted this, but unfortunately the lost Sneeze Sessions never broke on mainstream U.S. radio).

Magical Mystery Tour was an experiment even by Beatles standards. It was originally conceived as the soundtrack to a plotless follow-up film to Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band,  featuring six original tunes and five of the Beatles' already well-known singles from 1967. Everyone hated the movie. But the album went gold, despite it's non-sequitur anthems about the plight of Strawberry farmers and the unheard voices behind the laudable Walrus rights movement.

We blew so many minds with our last investigation into the truth behind Beatles lyrics, we challenged ourselves to take on the puzzling tracks from Magical Mystery Tour, including one of the most puzzled-over tracks in crypto-musico history. Strap in for the tour, and as always, goo goo g'joob.

"All You Need Is Love"

In June 1967 the Beatles famously sang this song as part of the Our World television broadcast, the first live, international TV production ever aired. It was thus that 400 million people around the world witnessed the greatest lyrical slip-up ever filmed.

Prior to the broadcast Beatles manager Brian Epstein (the so-called "Fifth Beatle") tasked the Lennon-McCartney writing team to compose a song with a simple, unifying slogan that could be understood and appreciated by listeners of every nationality. At the time, Lennon was noggin-deep in his notorious sandwich phase—which you will recall was inspired by a particularly taut BLT (the so-called "Sixth Beatle") purchased and summarily devoured in a Manchester truck stop. Lennon responded to Epstein's charge with one of his most altruistic and universally accessible songs to date, a passionate populist anthem titled "All You Need is Lunch."

The considerably less meaningful version we all know today resulted from a typical case of McCartney neglecting Lennon's auteurship, carelessly replacing "lunch" with "love" during rehearsals and, eventually, live on air. Though many responded positively to McCartney's blunder, one wonders if the song would have achieved even greater acclaim had the band stuck to Lennon's original lyrics as they appear in his notebooks:

"There's no sandwich you can make that can't be made /
no deli meat you can buy that can't be weighed /
no mayo you can unscrew that doesn't go with gouda too—it's cheesy!
All you need is lunch…"

Additional notebook extracts of the time reveal that Lennon also composed the initial themes for "Mean Mr. Mustard on Rye" and "I've Just Seen An Open-Faced Club Sandwich" during this inspired period.

"Your Mother Should Know"

Paul wrote this song as a kind of throwaway track to conclude the Magical Mystery Tour companion film. He cared so little about its success or appeal, in fact, that it was nearly released as a series of nasty jokes about John and George's mothers (Not Ringo's. Missus Starr is just darling.) Scrawled erratically on pub napkins, some of Paul's original lyrics to the spiteful tune include:

"Your Mother is so fat I can see her Across The Universe"

"Your Mother is so dumb even the Fool on the Hill feels sorry for her"

"Your Mother is so ugly she checks her reflection while the mirror Gently Weeps"

"Help! George's mom just offered me some homemade liver pie!"

"Dear Prudence, John's mom sucks."

According to a 1968 interview, Paul relented to the watered-down lyrics we know so as not to appear "a total wanker."

"I Am The Walrus"

The story you may have heard about "I Am The Walrus" is one of petty trolling. Allegedly after a professor friend revealed that he gave his class Beatles songs to analyze for meaning, John Lennon wrote a deliberately nonsensical ode to Lewis Carroll's "Walrus and the Carpenter," including meaningless phrases about "sitting on a cornflake" with "the Egg Man" until you catch "yellow matter custard / dripping from a dead dog's eye." But what if we were to tell you this ostensible gobbledegook was actually a coverup for a decades-old of mystery, full of conspiracy and Da Vinci Code levels of improbable excitement?

The famous chorus "I am the walrus / goo goo g'job" may seem like gibberish when taken at face value, but the lyrics are actually a brilliant cryptex devised by Lennon to reveal a stirring truth to only the most inquisitive listeners.

The puzzle, known in professional code-breaking circles as the Walrus Conundrum, has plagued great minds for generations, and even drove contemporary songwriter and Fleetwood Mac founder Peter Green to inescapable madness. The solution, known in professional code-breaking circles as the Hinkerdink Retort, was first pieced together in 1981 by Professor Throckmorton Q. Hinkerdink (the so-called "Seventh Beatle"), and we are proud to reproduce it for you here.

The lyrics turn out to be a common anagram, easily unscrambled after separating each word of the into the component letters seen here:

"I A M T H E W A L R U S /  G O O G O O G ' J O O B"

These letters, when properly anagrammatized, form the following couplet:

"I'M JUST A HOBO / GOOGLE WAR, BRO"

Intriguing. Definitely sounds like Lennon. Assuming you ignore the fact that Google wasn't invented until, like, four decades after he croaked. But who are we to question genius? Googling.

Following Lennon's instructions, a quick search for "War" leads us immediately to the Official Web Site of the 1970s jam/funk band, War. A seeming non-sequitur at first glance, considering the band didn't form until 1969 when the Beatles were well on their way out of the studio forevsies. BUT WAIT! The site's history page informs us that War was formed in '69 by legendary Animals vocalist Eric Burdon (the so-called "15th, 16th and 19th Beatle" [He had multiple personalities]). And another quick Googlin' informs us that Eric Burdon was not only a friend of John's, but he also claims in his memoir to be the very Egg Man described in Lennon's "Walrus." (Gasp!)

What, then, does this all mean?  Can this cosmic connection be something more than mere coincidence? Is John Lennon trying to transmit a message of musical peace and fraternity across space, across time itself? Have we, through the tireless research of Throckmorton Hinkderdink, stumbled upon a solution to the mystery that has haunted music lovers for tireless decades?

No. This song is total nonsense. Goo goo g'joob.

What lyrics should Brandon get to the bottom of next?

Tags: lyrics, the beatles, music, funniest

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About the Author
Brandon Specktor

For 22 years, Brandon was a fat kid living in Tucson, AZ, which gave him lots and lots of time to write. He now works at a magazine in New York City, but still loves writing almost as much as he loves muffins.

Wanna contact a writer or editor? Email contribute@sparknotes.com.