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Beatles Ultimate Experience: Songwriting & Recording Database: Magical Mystery Tour
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Magical Mystery Tour

Originally released in the US, November 27, 1967

Lady Madonna/The Inner Light (UK Release: 3/15/68)


JOHN 1972: "Paul wrote it. I helped with some of the lyric."

JOHN 1980: "Paul's song. Maybe I did part of it, but it was his concept."

PAUL circa-1994: "'Magical Mystery Tour' was co-written by John and I, very much in our fairground period. One of our great inspirations was always the barker: 'Roll up! Roll up!' The promise of something-- the newspaper ad that says 'guaranteed not to crack,' the 'high class' butcher, 'satisfaction guaranteed' from Sgt. Pepper... You'll find that pervades alot of my songs. If you look at all the Lennon/McCartney things, it's a thing we do alot."


JOHN 1980: "Now that's Paul. Another good lyric. Shows he's capable of writing complete songs."

PAUL circa-1994: "'Fool On The Hill' was mine and I think I was writing about someone like the Maharishi. His detractors called him a fool. Because of his giggle he wasn't taken too seriously... I was sitting at the piano at my father's house in Liverpool hitting a D6 chord, and I made up 'Fool On The Hill.'"


PAUL circa-1994: "'Flying' was an instrumental that we needed for (the film) 'Magical Mystery Tour' so in the studio one night I suggested to the guys that we made something up. I said, 'We can keep it very, very simple, we can make it a 12-bar blues. We need a little bit of a theme and a little bit of a backing.' I wrote the melody, otherwise it's just a 12-bar backing thing. It's played on the mellotron, on a trombone setting. It's credited to all four (Beatles), which is how you would credit a non-song."


GEORGE 1968: "Derek Taylor got held up. He rang to say he'd be late. I told him on the phone that the house was in Blue Jay Way. And he said he could find it okay... he could always ask a cop. So I waited and waited. I felt really nackered with the flight, but I didn't want to go to sleep until he came. There was a fog and it got later and later. To keep myself awake, just as a joke to pass the time while I waited, I wrote a song about waiting for him in Blue Jay Way. There was a little Hammond organ in the corner of this house which I hadn't noticed until then... so I messed around on it and the song came."


PAUL circa-1994: "I dreamed up 'Your Mother Should Know' as a production number... I've always hated generation gaps. I always feel sorry for a parent or a child that doesn't understand each other. A mother not being understood by her child is particularly sad because the mother went through pain to have that child, and so there is this incredible bond of motherly love, like an animal bond between them. But because we mess things up so readily they have one argument and hate each other for the rest of their lives. So I was advocating peace between the generations. In 'Your Mother Should Know' I was basically trying to say your mother might know more than you think she does. Give her credit."


PAUL 1967: "Everyone keeps preaching that the best way is to be 'open' when writing for teenagers. Then when we do we get criticized. Surely the word 'knickers' can't offend anyone. Shakespeare wrote words alot more naughtier than knickers!"

JOHN 1967: "We chose the word (knickers) because it is a lovely expressive word. It rolls off the tongue. It could 'mean' anything."

GEORGE 1967: "People don't understand. In John's song, 'I Am The Walrus' he says: 'I am he as you are he as you are me.' People look for all sorts of hidden meanings. It's serious, but it's also not serious. It's true, but it's also a joke."

JOHN 1968: "We write lyrics, and I write lyrics that you don't realize what they mean till after. Especially some of the better songs or some of the more flowing ones, like 'Walrus.' The whole first verse was written without any knowledge. With 'I Am the Walrus,' I had 'I am he as you are he as we are all together.' I had just these two lines on the typewriter, and then about two weeks later I ran through and wrote another two lines and then, when I saw something, after about four lines, I just knocked the rest of it off. Then I had the whole verse or verse and a half and then sang it. I had this idea of doing a song that was a police siren, but it didn't work in the end (sings like a siren) 'I-am-he-as-you-are-he-as...' You couldn't really sing the police siren."

JOHN 1980: "The first line was written on one acid trip one weekend. The second line was written on the next acid trip the next weekend, and it was filled in after I met Yoko. Part of it was putting down Hare Krishna. All these people were going on about Hare Krishna, Allen Ginsberg in particular. The reference to 'Element'ry penguin' is the elementary, naive attitude of going around chanting, 'Hare Krishna,' or putting all your faith in any one idol. I was writing obscurely, a la Dylan, in those days. It's from 'The Walrus and the Carpenter.' 'Alice in Wonderland.' To me, it was a beautiful poem. It never dawned on me that Lewis Carroll was commenting on the capitalist and social system. I never went into that bit about what he really meant, like people are doing with the Beatles' work. Later, I went back and looked at it and realized that the walrus was the bad guy in the story and the carpenter was the good guy. I thought, Oh, shit, I picked the wrong guy. I should have said, 'I am the carpenter.' But that wouldn't have been the same, would it? (singing) 'I am the carpenter...'"


JOHN 1980: "That's another McCartney. An attempt to write a single. It wasn't a great piece. The best bit was at the end, which we all ad-libbed in the studio, where I played the piano. Like 'Ticket To Ride,' where we just threw something in at the end."

PAUL circa-1994: "'Hello Goodbye' was one of my songs. There are Geminian influences here I think-- the twins. It's such a deep theme of the universe, duality-- man woman, black white, high low, right wrong, up down, hello goodbye-- that it was a very easy song to write. It's just a song of duality, with me advocating the more positive. You say goodbye, I say hello. You say stop, I say go. I was advocating the more positive side of the duality, and I still do to this day."


JOHN 1968: "Strawberry Fields was a place near us that happened to be a Salvation Army home. But Strawberry Fields-- I mean, I have visions of Strawberry Fields. And there was Penny Lane, and the Cast Iron Shore, which I've just got in some song now, and they were just good names-- just groovy names. Just good sounding. Because Strawberry Fields is anywhere you want to go."

PAUL 1974: "That wasn't 'I buried Paul' at all-- that was John saying 'Cranberry sauce.' It was the end of Strawberry Fields. Thatīs Johnīs humor. John would say something totally out of sync, like cranberry sauce. If you donīt realize that Johnīs apt to say cranberry sauce when he feels like it, then you start to hear a funny little word there, and you think, 'Aha!'"

JOHN 1980: "Strawberry Fields is a real place. After I stopped living at Penny Lane, I moved in with my auntie who lived in the suburbs... not the poor slummy kind of image that was projected in all the Beatles stories. Near that home was Strawberry Fields, a house near a boys' reformatory where I used to go to garden parties as a kid with my friends Nigel and Pete. We always had fun at Strawberry Fields. So that's where I got the name. But I used it as an image. Strawberry Fields Forever. 'Living is easy with eyes closed. Misunderstanding all you see.' It still goes, doesn't it? Aren't I saying exactly the same thing now? The awareness apparently trying to be expressed is-- let's say in one way I was always hip. I was hip in kindergarten. I was different from the others. I was different all my life. The second verse goes, 'No one I think is in my tree.' Well, I was too shy and self-doubting. Nobody seems to be as hip as me is what I was saying. Therefore, I must be crazy or a genius-- 'I mean it must be high or low,' the next line. There was something wrong with me, I thought, because I seemed to see things other people didn't see. I thought I was crazy or an egomaniac for claiming to see things other people didn't see. I always was so psychic or intuitive or poetic or whatever you want to call it, that I was always seeing things in a hallucinatory way. Surrealism had a great effect on me, because then I realized that the imagery in my mind wasn't insanity; that if it was insane, I belong in an exclusive club that sees the world in those terms. Surrealism to me is reality. Psychic vision to me is reality. Even as a child. When I looked at myself in the mirror or when I was 12, 13, I used to literally trance out into alpha. I didn't know what it was called then. I found out years later there is a name for those conditions. But I would find myself seeing hallucinatory images of my face changing and becoming cosmic and complete. It caused me to always be a rebel. This thing gave me a chip on the shoulder; but, on the other hand, I wanted to be loved and accepted. Part of me would like to be accepted by all facets of society and not be this loudmouthed lunatic musician. But I cannot be what I am not."


PAUL 1966: "I like some of the things the Animals try to do, like the song Eric Burdon wrote about places in Newcastle on the flip of one of their hits. I still want to write a song about the places in Liverpool where I was brought up. Places like The Docker's Umbrella which is a long tunnel through which the dockers go to work on Merseyside, and Penny Lane near my old home."

JOHN 1968: "We really got into the groove of imagining Penny Lane-- the bank was there, and that was where the tram sheds were and people waiting and the inspector stood there, the fire engines were down there. It was just reliving childhood."

JOHN 1980: "Penny Lane is not only a street but it's a district... a suburban district where, until age four, I lived with my mother and father. So I was the only Beatle that lived in Penny Lane."

PAUL circa-1994: "John and I would always meet at Penny Lane. That was where someone would stand and sell you poppies each year on British Legion poppy day... When I came to write it, John came over and helped me with the third verse, as often was the case. We were writing childhood memories-- recently faded memories from eight or ten years before, so it was recent nostalgia, pleasant memories for both of us. All the places were still there, and because we remembered it so clearly we could have gone on."


JOHN 1968: "In 'Baby You're a Rich Man' the point was, stop moaning. You're a rich man and we're all rich men, heh, heh, baby!"

JOHN 1980: "That's a combination of two seperate pieces, Paul's and mine, put together and forced into one song. One-half was all mine. (sings) 'How does it feel to be one of the beautiful people/ Now that you know who you are...' Then Paul comes in with, (sings) 'Baby you're a rich man,' which was a lick he had around."


PAUL 1967: "We had been told we'd be seen recording it by the whole world at the same time. So we had one message for the world-- Love. We need more love in the world."

JOHN 1971: "I think if you get down to basics, whatever the problem is, it's usually to do with love. So I think 'All You Need is Love' is a true statement. I'm not saying, 'All you have to do is...' because 'All You Need' came out in the Flower Power Generation time. It doesn't mean that all you have to do is put on a phoney smile or wear a flower dress and it's gonna be alright. Love is not just something that you stick on posters or stick on the back of your car, or on the back of your jacket or on a badge. I'm talking about real love, so I still believe that. Love is appreciation of other people and allowing them to be. Love is allowing somebody to be themselves and that's what we do need."

PAUL circa-1994: "'All You Need Is Love' was John's song. I threw in a few ideas, as did other members of the group, but it was largely ad libs like singing 'She Loves You' or 'Greensleeves' or silly little things like that at the end, and we made those up on the spot."


RINGO 1968: "It sounds like Elvis, doesn't it? No, it doesn't sound like Elvis... it IS Elvis. Even those bits where he goes very high."

JOHN 1980: "Paul. Good piano lick, but the song never really went anywhere. Maybe I helped him on some of the lyrics."

PAUL 1986: "'Lady Madonna' is all women. How do they do it? --bless 'em. Baby at your breast, how do they get the time to feed them? Where do they get the money? How do you do this thing that women do?"

PAUL circa-1994: "The original concept was the Virgin Mary, but it quickly became symbolic of every woman-- the Madonna image but as applied to ordinary working-class women. 'Lady Madonna' was me sitting down at the piano trying to write a bluesy boogie-woogie thing. It reminded me of Fats Domino for some reason, so I started singing a Fats Domino impression. It took my voice to a very odd place."


PAUL 1968: "Forget the Indian music and listen to the melody. Don't you think it's a beautiful melody? It's really lovely."


PAUL 1988: "We knew we were good. People used to say to us, 'Do you think John and you are good songwriters?' and I'd say-- "Yeah it may sound conceited but it would be stupid of me to say 'No, I don't,' or 'Well, we're not bad' because we are good." Let's face it. If you were in my position, which was working with John Lennon, who was a great, great man-- It's like that film 'Little Big Man.' He says, 'We wasn't just playing Indians, we was LIVIN' Indians.' And that's what it was. I wasn't just talking about it, I was living it. I was actually working with the great John Lennon, and he with me. It was very exciting."


- Beatles At The Movies- Roy Carr, 1996
- Beatles Book Monthly
- Beatles Recording Sessions- Mark Lewisohn, 1988
- Beatlesongs- William J. Dowlding, 1989
- Billboard Magazine/Harrison, 1999
- David Frost Interview/McCartney
- Final Testament: 'Unedited' Lennon/Playboy Interviews
- Let It Be- movie/sessions dialog
- Many Years From Now- Barry Miles, 1997
- Playboy Magazine/McCartney
- Press conferences and archived audio interviews
- Rolling Stone Magazine/Lennon
- The Beatles- Hunter Davies
- The Beatles In Their Own Words- Barry Miles 1978