Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Wild Honey Pie

I can't even tell you what a horrible day I'm having. My beautiful little computer, Ripley, is on the fritz, I have been in seventy thousand meetings in the past three days, and work is making me nuts, and I've got to crank out tons of stuff before taking last-minute unforeseen vacation time in the next couple weeks.

I got no time, kids, and this time it's for real. But I have made it THIS FAR into the year and posted every day, and I'm determined to not let today bring me down. So let's listen to "Wild Honey Pie."

It sounds like all the Beatles are screwing around jovially in the studio, doesn't it? Well, that's an illusion. This entire track was done by Paul, who was screwing around jovially all by himself while John and Ringo worked on other songs. (George was away on a vacation, perhaps because he was getting sick of the toxic White Album sessions generally-- I don't really remember, to be honest.) Paul layered on all the voices and did funky things with this guitar strings and we have this little ditty to show for it.

"Wild Honey Pie" is fine. But it's also a key pillar in George Martin's argument that maybe they should have released a superb single album instead of a quite-awesome-but-sorta-uneven double album, which is what the White Album ended up being. This is the kind of track that's usually first on people's lists of songs that could have been cut.

Even Paul wasn't that keen on keeping it, but as it happens, Pattie Boyd liked it. So it stayed. (It must be nice to be a woman who looks like Pattie Boyd. Such influence!)

Okay, sorry to hop off again, but I just gotta finish a lot of other things. Hopefully more tomorrow!


  1. Um ... you named your computer?

    I'm not saying it deserves groove space, but how long is this song, a minute? George Martin needs Exhibit B and C. Of course, he has them.

    As much as I like what's on the White Album, when I did the exercise where you pare it down to one LP, I found that even the cream doesn't make for the best record. Sixteen of my 100 favorite Beatle songs are on the disc, but that drops to six of my top 40 (tied with Revolver), four of my top 25 (tied with Abbey Road, behind Revolver), and none of my top 10. (Dear Prudence is 11th on my list.) It's more to do with the effort they were putting in as a band, I think -- into the writing, performing, and arranging/production -- that this album isn't their best.

  2. YES I named my computer.

    I'm very close to my computer.

    (Shut up.)

    Anyway, maybe you're right. On balance, it seems like a good thing that Martin didn't get his way here. It's a good point about effort, but some of the songs got tons of work put into them (Dear Prudence is one of those), and those are the ones they probably should have kept. These toss-offs are just that, you know?

  3. I'm content with the White Album being a pretty good double album instead of one great LP. My scandalous submission for the one LP version of the album would still include this, but as an Easter Egg type end track, and maybe spread some rumors around about honey pie being the last words the "real" Paul said, y'know, before the accident. That, however, coupled with reworking the White Album into a single LP, would make me a very, very wicked person. And that's why I don't play the one LP White Album party game.

    Each of my computers has had a name,
    I honestly sympathize; there is no shame.

  4. Even if it would have been a bad idea, the White Album game is fun. People who don't know that this game exists are often horrified when I want to play it with them, but I stand by its being an interesting intellectual exercise. And how can we really know which songs would have adversely affected our lives by not existing? Would I really be quantitatively less happy if "Rocky Raccoon" had been unreleased and then destroyed by the Abbey Road janitors or something before the bootleggers could get their hands on it? ("Rocky Raccoon" is one that people get REALLY upset at the thought of losing, but I wouldn't call it a favorite personally.)

    I mean, I don't know. But it's kind of neat to think about.

    My White Album list would never have made it out of Abbey Road, because it has way too much John representation. Paul would never have allowed it. But seriously, John dominates that album-- have you ever noticed that? Or is it me?