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The Beatles Songs: I'm So Tired

The history of this classic Beatles song

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The Beatles Songs: I'm So Tired

The original UK sheet music for "I'm So Tired"

rarebeatles.com

I'm So Tired

Written by: John Lennon (100%)
(credited to Lennon-McCartney)
Recorded: October 8, 1968 (Studio 2, Abbey Road Studios, London, England)
Mixed: October 15, 1968
Length: 2:03
Takes: 14

Musicians:

John Lennon: lead vocals (double-tracked), rhythm guitar (1965 Epiphone E230TD(V) Casino), organ (Hammond RT-3)
Paul McCartney: harmony vocals, bass guitar (1964 Rickenbacker 4001S), electric piano (1964 Hohner Pianet)
George Harrison: lead guitar (1961 Sonic Blue Fender Stratocaster)
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:

  • John Lennon first met New York performance artist Yoko Ono on November 9, 1966, when he attended one of her "happenings" at the Indica Gallery. Though immediately intrigued, his infatuation with her didn't reach critical mass until early 1968, just before the group left for Rishikesh, India to study transcendental meditation with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Before leaving, Yoko instructed John to "Look for me... I'll be a cloud in the sky," ensuring that he'd think of her often while away. Although wife Cynthia met him in Rishikesh, Ono, who'd already begun calling and phoning John under the pretext of artistic collaboration, sent him postcards during the retreat. It was this fascination with Yoko - along with endless bouts of mediation and a self-imposed ban on drugs, sex, alcohol and cigarettes while with the Maharishi - that inspired the song "I'm so Tired," which John wrote privately three weeks after arriving there.
  • John demoed the song, along with his other Rishikesh compositions, at George's "Kinfauns" home in Esher on May 20, 1968. The original draft is much like the released version, except for a mocking, doo-wop styled coda ("When I hold you in your arms") that would later serve as the basis for the climactic final section of his song "Happiness is a Warm Gun." Though the finished version retains the same drowsy feel of Lennon's "I'm Only Sleeping," it adds a darker, obsessive tone, with John referencing the alcohol, cigarettes, and companionship he's forced to do without. There's even a clever lyrical hook: "I'd give you everything I've got for a little peace of mind" was a nod to his current quest for inner calm through meditation, but it's also a clever pun on his need for Yoko ("piece" being a suggestive homonym).
  • Now back at Abbey Road for the moment, EMI having finally purchased an eight-track recording console to keep up with their competitor Trident Studios, the Beatles began and completed "I'm So Tired" over the course of one long October 8, 1968 session. The band learned the song rather quickly, recording bass and drums and two guitars - John's, heard right in the verses, and George's, heard center mainly in the chorus. Then John added a little coloring by way of the Hammond organ, and Paul and George both added extra tracks, electric piano and an extra guitar, both of which were buried far down in the final mix. John added more organ and Ringo a rather military march snare in the chorus, and the song was done. The band then spent the rest of the evening beginning and finishing "The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill."

Trivia:
  • One of the most famous moments in the history of the "Paul is Dead" hoax occurs just as "I'm So Tired" ends: John begins mumbling sleepily, much like his drowse on "I'm Only Sleeping." When reversed, the mumbling sounds remarkably like the words "Paul is dead man, miss him, miss him, miss him." Though the Beatles continually denied ever inserting hidden messages, and though technology at the time would have made recording a forwards-sung backmasking very difficult indeed, the rumors persisted. Even less likely is the widely-reported translation of John's forward singing as "Monsieur, Monsieur, Monsieur, how about another one?" reportedly referring to ordering a drink. Close examination of the mumbling reveals that it's really just nonsense. (The phrase ends with a high-pitched "pleh" from someone other than John; this is the final second of the track but has often been erroneously cut as the first second of the following song, "Blackbird.")
  • The last lines of the last verse are classic John: "I'll have another cigarette / And curse Sir Walter Raleigh / he was such a stupid git." Sir Walter Raleigh was the Englishman who first introduced tobacco to England, and therefore implicit in John's addiction. (Though there was an American cigarette called "Raleigh" just for this reason, Lennon actually smoked thin black French cigarettes called Galoises, which are still available today.) "Git" is a rude and somewhat generic Cockney term for an unlikable person; Liverpudlians like John pronounced it with a hard, Scottish "short e" sound, rendering it "get" and making it rhyme with "cigarette."
  • Paul actually sang a slower, comical, Dylanesque version of "I'm So Tired" during the rehearsals for the "Get Back / Let It Be" project.
  • Paul's harmonies in the chorus are louder in the mono mix.
  • On May 19, 1968, as wife Cynthia vacationed in Greece, John invited Yoko to his London home. The two spent that night making an experimental album of "found sounds" that was later released as Two Virgins; as the sun rose, they consummated their relationship. When Cynthia returned the next day, she found Yoko in her bathrobe. John nonchalantly said "Hi." His wife left him immediately.

Covered by: Elliott Smith, Alex Chilton, Kasabian, Silverchair, You Am I, Say Hi, Orquesta Mondragón

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