Sunday, March 29, 2009


If you're ever lying around on a disgusting rainy Sunday, suffering from the lingering effects of insomnia and headaches-- or if you're just having one of those days when you hate everyone, and especially if that day is a HarriSunday-- you may as well listen to "Piggies," one of George's songs from the White Album. It sounds as though, on the day he wrote this, George sort of hated everyone too.

Or maybe it wasn't that he hated everyone. Maybe he just felt superior to everyone. George sometimes does seem to feel a little bit superior to us, doesn't he? You know, like how in "Within You Without You" he totally implicates listeners in the shallowness of contemporary life and so on. And then there's "Isn't It a Pity?" from All Things Must Pass, in which he essentially clucks his tongue at us condescendingly for not being nicer to each other. We're not as directly implicated in "Piggies," but the song does make me feel a little dirty, as though I'm doing something wrong by just existing and participating (albeit in only a small, pathetic way) in the capitalist machine. Or whatever. And sometimes it just makes me want to point out to George, look, two years ago you were singing "Taxman," so don't even talk to me about how I'm materialistic.

Anyway, George is in full on satiric mode here, milking the quasi-pastoral, "proper" sounds of the harpsichord and cello for all they're worth. The fake classical feel is helped out by a pretty even-sounding four/four rhythm with no backbeat (or drums at all) to muss up its preciousness. Then John and Paul join George on the last verse in exaggeratedly operatic, twitty voices. I guess what we're meant to take from this is that pigs like to listen to classical music. And as someone who happens to listen to a lot of classical music, I get irritated with this insinuation that everyone who listens to it is up for an Upper-Class-Twit-of-the-Year Award, especially from a guy like George, whom I love dearly but who, in 1968, didn't know what the hell he was talking about when it came to classical, okay?

See, shoot, I'm letting "Piggies" offend me again, which is really just silly. Most days I like this song more, when I can just sit back and let George have his little piece and listen to the cute piggy snorting noises. Still, it's never been one of my favorites. The tone is kind of off-putting-- maybe it sounded fine in the '60s, but this is exactly the kind of '60s sentiment that hasn't aged well. To say nothing of some clunkiness in the lyrics. ("What they need's a damned good whacking" is a line contributed by George's mother, and one which I sincerely wish she had kept to herself.) But have a listen anyway-- or wait to listen to it when you're in a more rotten mood. It tends to sound better on days like that, I feel.

"Piggies," released in the U.K. side B track 4 of The Beatles a.k.a. the White Album, November 22, 1968; in the U.S. November 25, 1968.


  1. Yeah, don't take it personally. George was just preachy like that.

  2. This song always rubbed me wrong, too. I hate judgmental writing. More effective to include oneself in the mix when illustrating human weakness, than to point fingers and come off Holier Than Thou.

  3. Too true. By the way, I was just reading your backwards ranking of Beatles songs, and when I saw you had "The Fool on the Hill" and "Long and Winding Road" in your bottom three, I was all like "THANK you!" If "Michelle" had been the third it would have basically matched mine.

    Apropos of nothing but I wanted to point it out. The day I tackle "Fool on the Hill" here is going to be a dark day indeed.

  4. Frank, right on as usual. George sometimes didn't know when to just let it go. He can be hilarious, and sometimes I really like how sarcastic he can be, but he thinks VERY highly of himself.

  5. I don't remember where Michelle was, but it couldn't have been much after those two. I think when Paul credited John for the "I love you I love you I love you" contribution, he was getting some kind of revenge, not being generous.