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The Beatles Songs: Everybody's Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey

The history of this classic Beatles song

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The Beatles Songs: Everybody's Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey

The original US sheet music for "Everybody's Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey"

rarebeatles.com

Everybody's Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey

Working titles: Untitled and Come On, Come On Written by: John Lennon (100%)
(credited as Lennon-McCartney)

Recorded: June 27, July 1 and 23, 1968 (Studio 2, Abbey Road Studios, London, England)
Mixed: July 23, October 12, 1968
Length: 2:24
Takes: 12

Musicians:

John Lennon: lead and backing vocals (double-tracked), rhythm guitar (1965 Epiphone E230TD(V) Casino), handclaps
Paul McCartney: backing vocals, bass guitar (1964 Rickenbacker 4001S), cowbell, chocalho, handclaps
George Harrison: lead guitar (1966 Gibson Les Paul Standard SG), handclaps
Ringo Starr: drums (Ludwig)

Available on: (CDs in bold)

The Beatles (a/k/a "The White Album"; UK: Apple PMC 7067-8; US: Apple SWBO 101; Parlophone CDP 7 46443 2; CDP 7 46444 2)

History:

  • The origin and the subject of this, the Beatles song with the longest title ever, are inextricably tied together -- and both in dispute. John himself claimed that the "Monkey" of the title was his new girlfriend Yoko Ono; he'd seen a newspaper cartoon unkindly depicting her as a monkey parasitically living on John's back, and to show the couple's solidarity, he penned this raucous rocker in response. If that were true, the song would date from no earlier than May 1968, which is possible, since it shows up on the demos made at George's "Kinfauns" home in Esher at the end of that month.
  • However, Paul and George -- and most fans at this point -- are of the opinion that the "Monkey" in the title is heroin. It's more likely that the song was composed earlier than just before the Kinfauns demos, and Lennon himself had admitted in interviews that he took (snorted) heroin before meeting Ono, starting again just after their relationship began. The phrase "monkey on my back" is an old junkie cliche for the heavy addiction the drug brings, and Paul, for one, thinks the lines "the higher you fly, the deeper you go / the deeper you go, the higher you fly" are a perfect description of the drug's effects.
  • Then again, that line may just be evidence of John's longtime penchant for nonsense. George has recalled that the opening line "Come on is such a joy" was a favorite phrase of the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, whom the group had just studied under in India; given John's recent fallout with the guru, it seems unlikely he'd write a new song with that phrase, or the phrase "Everybody's got something to hide," which George also identifies as the Maharishi's. Moreover, the line "Your outside is in, and your inside is out" doesn't seem to have much connection with Yoko or heroin. Who knows?
  • What is known is that the song was largely unfinished when it was demoed at Harrison's home, a simple acoustic talking blues that did not yet come equipped with the rhythmically deceptive intro. In fact, the band set aside the whole of June 26th, 1968 -- early in the sessions, when tensions weren't as high -- to jam on the song and turn it into the rocker as we now know it. Proper recording didn't even begin till the next day, with John on rhythm guitar, George on lead, Ringo on drums, and Paul alternating between cowbell (verses 1 and 3) and one of the Portuguese shakers known vaguely as chocalho (verse 2). Take 6 was "reduced" to takes 7 and 8, and George added a second lead guitar. On July 1st Paul added his bass line, strengthened in spots with an extra bass, and on the 23rd John finally laid down a lead vocal he thought suitable.

Trivia:
  • The raucous nature of "Monkey," which seems fairly spontaneous and sounds a lot like a live jam, was actually the result of some clever studio trickery. First, the original take 6 was sped up, moving the song from its original key of D to E flat. Then, on the 23rd of July, the group added handclaps, while Paul and John added lots of shouts and multitracked chatter. Then the track was sped up again, now bringing it to its familiar key of E major.
  • This is the first cowbell played by Paul on a Beatles song; Ringo had always played the instrument before, most notably in John's "cowbell trilogy" of "You Can't Do That," "A Hard Day's Night," and "I Call Your Name."
  • The wordless shouts (mostly Paul's) are slightly different in mono than in the stereo mix.
  • John was on record as saying Fats Domino's cover of this song -- the end result of a mutual admiration that began when the band wrote "Lady Madonna" in tribute -- was one of his favorites.

Covered by: Fats Domino, Phish, Soundgarden, The Hoodoo Gurus, The Feelies, Chisato Moritaka, Kristin Hersh, R. Stevie Moore, Eugene Chadbourne and Jimmy Carl Black, Flake, Die! Die! Die!

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