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The Beatles Songs: Savoy Truffle

The history of this classic Beatles song

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The Beatles Songs: Savoy Truffle

The inside of the "Good News" assortment box

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Savoy Truffle

Written by: George Harrison (100%)

Recorded: October 3 and 5, 1968 (Trident Studios, London, England); October 11 and 14, 1968 (Studio 2, Abbey Road Studios, London, England)
Mixed: October 14, 1968
Length: 2:54
Takes: Unknown

Musicians:

Paul McCartney: harmony vocals, bass (1964 Rickenbacker 4001S)
George Harrison: lead and rhythm guitar (1965 Epiphone E230TD(V) Casino), organ (Hammond RT-3)
Ringo Starr: drums (Ludwig)
Chris Thomas: electric piano (Fender Rhodes)
Derek Collins, Art Ellefson, Danny Moss: saxophones (tenor)
Bernard George, Harry Klein, Ronnie Ross: saxophones (baritone)

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:

  • By the time "Savoy Truffle" was recorded in October 1968, tensions within the Beatles had hit an all-time high. Yoko Ono's presence, and the band's reaction to her, had distanced John from the group. Paul had alienated the others by choosing to record several "White Album" songs by himself. The failure of the Apple Corps dream was causing the group to bicker over finances for the first time. George was growing by leaps and bounds as an artist, yet was still not being treated as an equal. And the infighting was making Ringo miserable.
  • George's solution was to "play hooky," as he put it, from the studio, and he began taking days off from the recording process and hanging out with his new friend, Cream guitarist Eric Clapton, at his home in London. In fact, "Here Comes the Sun" was written during a particularly beautiful day in Clapton's garden.
  • Eric, perhaps owing to his increasing drug addiction, had developed quite a sweet tooth, one which he satisfied with the Good News Double Centre Chocolate Assortment chocolates from the Mackintosh company of England. Harrison, noting the declining state of Eric's teeth and his many trips to the dentist, wrote "Savoy Truffle" as an inside joke, reciting the names of the flavors themselves from the inside of the box -- creme tangerine, ginger sling, coffee dessert, etc. He even worked in the brand name, and warned about Eric's upcoming dental visits ("you're gonna scream aloud," "the pain is gonna fill your head," "you'll have to have them all pulled out").
  • Lennon was not-so-conspicuously absent from the recording of "Savoy Truffle," which began at Trident studios with George on electric piano (later wiped and replaced with a track by engineer Chris Thomas), Paul on bass, and Ringo drums, done with many rehearsals and takes but with the final product labeled as "Take 1." Two days later on October 5, George laid down his double-tracked lead vocals and harmony, with Paul assisting and then heading off to work on "Martha My Dear."
  • Back at Abbey Road on October 11, George Martin assembled a very New Orleans Soul-style rock brass section, all saxophones, and had them perform his arrangement; George, much to everyone's dismay, thought the end product would fit the song better if the horns were all heavily compressed and filtered for a "canned" sound. Three days later, George added organ and more guitar, Paul added tambourine, and the song was ready for its final mix, just days before deadline.

Trivia:

  • The "Good News" assortment, a line begun in 1960, contained several sweeties unknown to American audiences: the "Montelimart" is a chocolate-covered nougat named after the French town of Montelimar, birthplace and world capital of the nutty substance. The "Savoy Truffle" itself is a type of English confection named after its truffle-like shape and filled with a syrupy emulsion; the version Eric had been eating was a tribute to one made at London's Savoy hotel, which had become famous for its afternoon teas. Finally, stuck in the second verse for more flavors, George simply made some up: "cherry cream," "apple tart," "coconut fudge." (There's supposedly pineapple in a "ginger sling," but "pineapple treat" was another of the flavors, which may have been the inspiration.) Mackintosh was absorbed by the Nestle corporation in 1988.
  • Stuck for a line in the bridge, George solicited the help of longtime Beatles PR man Derek Taylor, who'd just seen a movie called You Are What You Eat. Harrison reversed this and rhymed it with "Ob-la-di-bla-da," possibly a dig at Paul ("But can you show me where you are?"). This song is the fourth one from the end of the "White Album" and "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da" is the fourth song in, creating a nice but unintentional bookend effect.
  • The mono mix of this song contains some sound effects during the solo, and the solo itself bleeds into the next chorus.

Covered by: Ella Fitzgerald, They Might Be Giants, Phish, Terry Manning, Bullangus

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