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Hey Bulldog

The history of this classic Beatles song

By

Hey Bulldog

The segment of The Beatles: Rock Band featuring "Hey Bulldog"

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Hey Bulldog

Original titles: She Can Talk To Me, Hey Bullfrog
Written by: John Lennon (80%), Paul McCartney (20%)
(credited to Lennon-McCartney)
Recorded: February 11, 1968 (Studio 3, Abbey Road Studios, London, England)
Mixed: February 11 and October 29, 1968
Length: 3:09
Takes: 10

Musicians:

John Lennon: lead vocals (double-tracked), piano, lead guitar (1965 Epiphone E230TD(V) Casino)
Paul McCartney: harmony vocals, bass guitar (1964 Rickenbacker 400IS)
George Harrison: rhythm guitars (1965 Epiphone E230TD(V) Casino, 1962 Gibson Les Paul (SG) Standard)
Ringo Starr: drums (Ludwig)
Mal Evans: tambourine
Available on: (CDs in bold)
Yellow Submarine (UK: Apple PMC 7070, PCS 7070; US: Apple SW 153; Parlophone CDP 46445 2; "Songtrack:" Capitol/Apple CDP 7243 5 21481 2 7)

History:

  • "Hey Bulldog" has one of the fastest turnarounds of any late-period Beatles track, having been composed by John only a few days before recording began and completely finished in one session. The song began life as a chorus only, a home acoustic demo known as "She Can Talk To Me." A few days later, on February 11, 1968, the entire band assembled in Studio 3 of Abbey Road to be filmed for a promotional video of the group's new single, "Lady Madonna." While there, however, Paul convinced the band to record a new song in order to save time. John offered the song fragment up for consideration, and, with a little songwriting and arrangement help from Paul, the entire track was completed that evening.
  • As the writing progressed, John's original "James Bond"-style chorus progression was attached to a few nonsensical verses, an intro lick made up on the spot by John at the piano, and an improvised, nearly hysterical vocal improv by the pair on the outro. Despite its hasty assemblage, it remains one of the Beatles' highest-regarded songs, particularly by those who prefer their "rock" leanings. Since another song was needed for the band's upcoming Yellow Submarine soundtrack, "Hey Bulldog" was given the nod.
  • The original title for the song as it was being worked out was "Hey Bullfrog," since John mentions a bullfrog in the very first line. Yet Paul's ad-lib of "Hey Bulldog" in the outro -- likely caused by a conflation of "bullfrog" and "sheep dog," both from the first verse, in Paul's mind -- led John to change the title on the spot. Paul also misread Lennon's lyric sheet, which featured the line "Some kind of solitude is measured out in news," as "...measured out in you." John preferred the "wrong" lyric and kept it.
  • This session was historic in that it marked the first time Yoko Ono would visit a Beatles session; her remark to John about the simplicity of the 4/4 rock beat -- "Why do you always use that beat all the time... why don't you do something more complex?" -- led Lennon to begin experimenting with mixed meter on Beatles recordings.
  • Because of John's increasing estrangement from the group in 1968 and 1969, this is the last Beatles song to be written and recorded with the entire group in the studio at once.

Trivia:

  • That's Ringo responding "Yeah?" when John sings "Big man..." in Verse 3, identified by the drums and their place in the mix.
  • Ironically, the animated sequence featuring the song was cut from the original film for time, especially since it added nothing to the plot. However, the scene was restored in 1999 when the Yellow Submarine film was remastered and re-released, and it has since found a whole new popularity it lacked in the group's heyday. ("Hey Bulldog" was originally buried in the middle of side 1 of the YS soundtrack, surrounded by three rather lackluster new songs and a whole side of George Martin instrumentals; as a consequence, many Beatles fans never owned it.)
  • When longtime Beatles associate Neil Aspinall went through tons of Beatles footage for the Anthology documentary, he found the original "Lady Madonna" promo video, and realizing "Hey Bulldog" was the song actually being played in the clips, restored it to the song. As a result, fans can now see the group recording "Bulldog" more or less as it happened.
  • The original stereo mix of this song was completely overhauled for the 1999 "songtrack" version of YS, including a fade that lasted three seconds longer than the original. The original mono mix was simply a stereo mix funneled into one channel, but a true mono mix was made in 2009 for the Beatles box set The Beatles In Mono.
Covered by: The Gods, Bill Deal and the Rondells, Alice Cooper, Jim Schoenfeld, Fanny, Tea Leaf Green, Eric McFadden, Ween, The Roots, Boxer, Elvis Costello, Honeycrack, Ian Moore, Toad The Wet Sprocket, Gomez, Rolf Harris, Firewater, Wes Carr, Gota and the Low Dog, Skin Yard, U-Melt, Dave Matthews, Paddy Milner, Of Montreal, Manfred Mann's Earth Band, Alien Cowboys, The Golden Ticket, Southern Culture On The Skids, Tamio Okuda, The Chaperones, Die Andalusischen Hunde
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