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Music: The White Album
No, that's not whitespace, that's the album cover.

The White Album is the unofficial title for The Beatles' self-titled 1968 album. The record owes its nickname due to the completely white album cover.

The White Album was the Beatles' first double album. The songs feature a lot of variation in style and mood. Overall the record sounds almost like a compilation record featuring the band members as solo artists instead of a unity. Indeed, it was a Troubled Production, complete with Ringo leaving the band for a while (Paul McCartney took over on drums for "Back in the USSR" and "Dear Prudence", and John and George also recorded drum tracks for "Back in the USSR").

Though not as popular as other Beatle records like Sgt. Pepper or Abbey Road, The White Album is still a huge inspiration for numerous rock bands. When something gets compared to The White Album, it's almost invariably a shorthand way of saying "long album with huge Neoclassical Punk Zydeco Rockabilly variety of styles, inevitably will attract complaints about Album Filler".

List of songs (Disc 1):

  1. "Back in the USSR"
  2. "Dear Prudence"
  3. "Glass Onion"
  4. "Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da"
  5. "Wild Honey Pie"
  6. "The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill"
  7. "While My Guitar Gently Weeps"
  8. "Happiness Is a Warm Gun"
  9. "Martha My Dear"
  10. "I'm So Tired"
  11. "Blackbird"
  12. "Piggies"
  13. "Rocky Raccoon"
  14. "Don't Pass Me By"
  15. "Why Don't We Do It in the Road?"
  16. "I Will"
  17. "Julia"

List of songs (Disc 2):

  1. "Birthday"
  2. "Yer Blues"
  3. "Mother Nature's Son"
  4. "Everybody's Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey"
  5. "Sexy Sadie"
  6. "Helter Skelter"
  7. "Long, Long, Long"
  8. "Revolution 1"
  9. "Honey Pie"
  10. "Savoy Truffle"
  11. "Cry Baby Cry"
  12. "Revolution 9"
  13. "Good Night"

"Trope-La-Di, Trope-La-Da, Life goes on, brah":

  • Added Alliterative Appeal: "Rocky Raccoon", "(The Continuing Story Of) Bungalow Bill", "Sexy Sadie".
  • Affectionate Parody: Several songs on this album imitate a certain musical style and whether these songs are a homage or a parody (or both) are left to the individual listener's opinion.
  • Age Progression Song: "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da".
  • Album Filler: George Martin even asked the Beatles to trim it down to one album since he felt there was too much filler, but the band didn't listen, being eager to fulfill their album commitment to the EMI record label as quickly as possible, and being unable to agree which songs to remove (Harrison noted that by that point there was "too much ego" involved). Every listener will have his own list of which songs on this album are a case of Throw It In and there have even been bootleg editions of this record where the set list has been rearranged and songs that are considered filler have been removed.
  • Biting-the-Hand Humor: "Glass Onion" is a sarcastic attack on their obsessive fans.
  • Black Comedy: The little piglets in "Piggies" are whacked down and then eaten by other pigs.
  • Book Ends: "Rocky Raccoon" and the Gideons' Bible he finds.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Ringo is getting nearer to the microphone during "Good Night" when he says: "Good night, everybody. Everybody, everywhere", as if directly talking to us, the audience.
  • Broken Record:
    • "Wild Honey Pie" ("HONEY PIE! HONEY PIE!") and "Why Don't We Do It In The Road?", widely considered to be White Album Filler
    • On a more disturbing way, "Number nine, number nine, number nine..."
  • BSOD Song: "I'm So Tired"
  • Call Back: The lyrics of "Glass Onion" consist almost entirely of references to the band's previous songs, including "I Am the Walrus", "She Loves You", "The Fool on the Hill", "Fixing a Hole", "Lady Madonna" and "Strawberry Fields Forever". In the case of "The Fool on the Hill", the song even includes a little snatch of flute as a musical echo of the original's introduction.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • "Glass Onion" seems to be built entirely on this.
    • "Savoy Truffle" - "We all know 'Ob-La-Di-Blah-Da'..."
  • Darker and Edgier:
    • Several songs like "Cry Baby Cry", "Julia", "Piggies"... are quite haunting compared to their previous songs.
    • "Revolution 9" is perhaps their edgiest track ever officially released.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Taken to levels all but unheard of on a record. It's an INTENSE rollercoaster lasting over 90 minutes long...climaxing in "Revolution 9"...before finally ending with "Good Night".
  • Epic Rocking:
  • Everythings Better With Chocolate: Or, rather, worse, as "you'll have to have them all pulled out after the 'Savoy Truffle.'"
  • Evolving Music: "Revolution" and "Revolution 1", two very different takes on the same song.
  • Fake-Out Fade-Out: "Helter Skelter", and too many times to count on "Revolution 9".
  • Genre Roulette/In The Style Of:
    • Many of the album's more acoustic-based songs seem to draw from Folk Rock.
    • "Rocky Raccoon," more or less an explicit semi/Affectionate Parody of cowboy ballads.
    • "Honey Pie" is a direct homage to the British music hall style and has a 1920s/1930s nostalgic feel to it.
    • "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da" is ska.
    • "Helter Skelter" is incredibly heavy, and has been called one of the first Heavy Metal songs on occasion.
    • "Long, Long, Long" is very Bob Dylan; George admitted it was heavily inspired by "Sad-Eyed Lady of the Lowlands".
    • "Birthday" is a slightly traditionalist rock n' roll song.
    • "Yer Blues" is moaned and played as a traditional blues song.
    • "Why Don't We Do It in the Road?" is more or less a Little Richard tribute.
    • "Good Night" sounds like a crooner song. John Lennon purposefully told George Martin to write a cheesy Nelson Riddle-type string arrangement.
    • "Revolution 9" is a very brutal avant-garde musique concrète "composition".
    • "Piggies" puts George Harrison's social commentary over a dissonantly upbeat Baroque Pop backing.
    • Country fan Ringo brought in a Nashville fiddler for "Don't Pass Me By", his first solo songwriting credit.
  • Grief Song: "Julia", about John's mother.
  • Happy Birthday to You: "Birthday" is this, as well as a "Happy Birthday to Me".
    They say it's your birthday!
    Well, it's my birthday too, yeah!
  • Hidden Track: "Can You Take Me Back", the song fragment on Side 4 of the White Album (included at the end of "Cry Baby Cry" on modern CD tracks), which to this day doesn't even have an official title. note 
  • History Marches On: "Back in the USSR" is the first song on the album, which was released on 22 November 1968. 23 years, one month and four days later, the USSR was dissolved.
    • A minor variant within the same song: The first line of "Back in the USSR" is "Flew in Miami Beach BOAC..." BOAC, or the British Overseas Airways Corporation, was merged with British European Airways to form British Airways on 31 March 1974.
  • Intercourse with You: "Why Don't We Do It In The Road?"
  • Interplay of Sex and Violence: The song "Happiness Is A Warm Gun" has Lennon singing about holding a gun in a tongue-in-cheek erotic manner: "When I feel my finger on your trigger/ I feel nobody can do me no harm".
  • Last Note Nightmare:
    • Particularly "Long, Long, Long".
    • "Helter Skelter" is a different sort of Last Note Nightmare, as it finishes with Ringo throwing his drumsticks across the room and screaming "I GOT BLISTERS ON MAH FINGERS!!" The version that wound up on the "White Album" was the 18th take of the day. That explains the blisters.
  • Lighter and Softer: "Revolution 1", compared to the single version. Musicologist Alan Pollack even writes in his commentary that, even though the single version was recorded afterwards, "Revolution 1" sounds to him like a parody of the single version.
  • Long Title: "Everybody's Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey"
  • Metal Scream: Paul shows off his skills on this in "Revolution" and "Helter Skelter".
  • Mind Screw:
    • "Revolution 9". While "Revolution 1" is a nice, slow, relatively tame rock song (especially compared to the harsher single), "Revolution 9"is eight minutes of pure, untapped, minimalist cacophony. A Last Note Nightmare, that really is a nightmare, regardless if it's a whole song...
    • Number nine, number nine, number nine...
  • Minimalistic Cover Art: The Beatles is all white, save for the name of the album embossed onto it, and on some LP printings, a unique serial number stamped on it (going for a bit of irony in something so plain also being unique from every other copy of it). Ever since, fans have called it The White Album.
    • In fact, this might be the Ur Example, since most album covers until then looked more like advertising posters (not to mention some of the more artistic ones, like the Beatles' own Revolver and Sgt. Pepper's, as well as The Rolling Stones' Their Satanic Majesties Request).
  • Missing Episode: The 27 minute version of "Helter Skelter" is the most notable example having never been released officially or on any bootlegs, but a number of songs were recorded with the intention of being put on (or recorded during the sessions of) this album, most of which are heavily bootlegged (such as a full version of "Can You Take Me Back") or included on The Beatles Anthology ("What's the New Mary Jane?"). One track that had only just found its way onto bootlegs in 2010 was a ten minute recording of the version of "Revolution 1" that ended up on the album, which largely provides the basis of "Revolution 9".
    • Some songs originally written for the album eventually ended up being later rerecorded and released on John, Paul, and George's solo albums (as detailed here).
  • Momma's Boy: The titular character of "The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill" is "the all-American bullet-headed Saxon mother's son." And behind that tough exterior, he really does rely on his mom's defense when people start to question him - hence why he always brings her along on hunting trips "in case of accidents."
  • Murder Ballad: "Rocky Raccoon", "Piggies".
  • Obsession Song: "Julia".
  • One Woman Song: "Julia", "Martha, My Dear", "Sexy Sadie".
  • Only a Flesh Wound: "Rocky Raccoon"
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Although the official title of this album is simply The Beatles most people know it as or name it The White Album. Even radio announcers specify it under this nickname, whenever they mention the album.
  • Out-of-Clothes Experience: Alluded to in "Revolution 9." "If... you become naked."
  • The Parody/Affectionate Parody: The song "Back in the USSR" is both a parody of Chuck Berry's "Back in the USA" and a decent imitation of The Beach Boys' "Surfing Sound," and the part that begins "Well the Ukraine girls really knock me out" is a direct sendup of "California Girls."
  • Precision F-Strike: "Piggies". "What they need's a damn good whacking." George's mother actually suggested the line.
    • An actual F-strike in "Revolution 9", "join the fucking navy and went to sea...". Of course, most listeners will be too busy freaking out to notice.
  • Protest Song: Subverted with "Revolution", a protest about protesters (and specifically those supportive of the Chinese Cultural Revolution, in John's "Chairman Mao" reference" - this may specifically refer to then-recent May '68 general strike and protests in France, where many student protesters marched holding up pictures of Chairman Mao).
    • Double subverted in "Revolution 1", where Lennon realized that he didn't actually know if he was for or against the protesters.
    "But when you talk about destruction
    Don't you know that you can count me out... in!"
  • Punny Name: "Bungalow Bill" instead of "Buffalo Bill".
  • Real Life Writes The Song:
    • "Dear Prudence" was inspired by Prudence Farrow, Mia's sister, who kept inside meditating while the group was in India.
    • "The Continuing Story Of Bungalow Bill" was a tiger-hunting man they met in Rishikesh.
    • "Sexy Sadie" was directed towards the Maharishi, who was accused of molesting one woman, infuriating John. Originally, the song was to have been an even more blatant attack (John had become generally disillusioned with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi during their time in India), but it was toned down to avoid offending George, who was still an admirer.
      • All he really did was replace every instance of "Maharishi" with "Sexy Sadie".
  • Record Producer: George Martin.
  • Sampling: "Revolution 9".
  • Scare Chord:
    • Ends "Piggies".
    • The ending of "Long Long Long" is way scarier. A case of Throw It In helps, as a wine bottle placed on the Hammond organ's Leslie speaker began to shake when Paul hit a certain note. George added the wailing voice and Ringo threw in the ominous snare roll. It sounds like a coffin is closing at a funeral while the widow weeps.
  • Self-Backing Vocalist: Paul on "I Will" and "Wild Honey Pie". John, who usually didn't do this, had a duet with himself (interpolating lines) on "Julia".
  • Self-Titled Album: The Beatles, although pretty much everyone knows it better as The White Album.
  • Shout-Out:
    • "Back In The USSR": The line "and Georgia is always on my mind" is a reference to "Georgia On My Mind", a song from the 1930s popularized by Ray Charles.
    • "Julia"—while it's about John's late mother, guess what the Japanese for "ocean child" is?
    • "Martha My Dear" is about Paul McCartney's dog.
    • "Piggies" is based on George Orwell's Animal Farm.
    • "Savoy Truffle" lists a lot of actual flavors of chocolate, and is also a joke about Eric Clapton's weakness for chocolate.
    • In "Yer Blues" Lennon claims to be "just as suicidal as Dylan's Mr. Jones". This is a reference to "Ballad of a Thin Man" from Bob Dylan's Highway 61 Revisited.
    • "Happiness Is A Warm Gun" was inspired by a title in a rifle magazine. Unbeknownst to Lennon the title itself was a Incredibly Lame Pun on the phrase "Happiness Is A Warm Puppy" from the Peanuts franchise.
  • Single Stanza Song: "Wild Honey Pie" and "Why Don't We Do It In The Road" . Also, "Can You Take Me Back", the Hidden Track right before "Revolution 9".
  • Something Blues: "Yer Blues".
  • Song Of Song Titles: "Glass Onion" name-checks "Strawberry Fields Forever", "I Am the Walrus", "Fixing a Hole", "Lady Madonna" and "The Fool on the Hill".
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: "Helter Skelter", a loud, badass epic rock song... about a fairground slide.
  • Special Guest: Eric Clapton plays lead guitar on "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" (because Harrison thought the presence of a respected outsider would get everyone to stop arguing for a while; reportedly, it worked); famed session musician Nicky Hopkins plays piano on "Revolution" and a few other tracks; engineer/producer Chris Thomas plays the harpsichord on "Piggies"; and jazz musician Jack Fallon provides the fiddle on "Don't Pass Me By".
    • A lot of the Beatles' friends and significant others were roped in to contribute. Mal Evans does backing vocals and handclaps on "Dear Prudence", handclaps on "Birthday", and he and John made a bunch of harsh trumpet noises on "Helter Skelter". "Birthday" also included backing vocals from Pattie Boyd and Yoko Ono, and Ringo Starr's wife Maureen Starkey sang backing vocals on "The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill"'alongside Yoko, who also contributed Spoken Word In Music and tapes and sound effects to "Revolution 9". And that''s not even counting all the session musicians.
    • This album actually has the only fleeting moment where a non-Beatle performs lead vocals: the second verse of "The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill", where Yoko Ono sings "Not when he looked so fierce" (with John adding "His mummy butted in"), and singing "If looks could kill it would've been us instead of him" alongside John.
  • Spoken Word In Music: "Revolution 9".
  • Spiritual Successor: A tough act to follow, but in terms of a double album with various themes and styles The Clash's London Calling (1979)'' probably comes the closest.
  • Studio Chatter: The end of "Piggies", the beginning of "Revolution 1", and most famously Ringo's "I'VE GOT BLISTERS ON MY FINGERS!!!" at the end of "Helter Skelter".
  • Stylistic Suck: "Yer Blues" is deliberately written as an amateur Blues Rock song, parodying British musicians who tried making blues songs of their own despite not being familiar enough with Blues culture. Therefore, instead of authentic blues metaphors and idioms, it has both overly straightforward lyrics about being depressed and blues-like metaphors and idioms that try to sound authentic but mean nothing. And then there is the solo... or rather, the two solos played simultaneously.
    • Lennon later admitted that the lyrics were inspired by his own Creator Breakdown, as the song was written while he was "trying to reach God and feeling suicidal" but he deliberately made them as over-the-top as possible so that if anyone worried and asked, he could pass the song off as just a parody. The parody aspect also comes from Lennon's own wish to write a Blues song but not being sure if he was capable of imitating the blues musicians he listened to in school, making him opt instead to parody the British blues-rock boom at the time.
  • Take That: "Sexy Sadie" was aimed at the Maharishi.
  • Unintentional Period Piece:
    • "Back In The USSR": Since the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991 this song sounds rather surreal...
    • "Revolution 1": "But if you go carrying pictures of Chairman Mao/ you ain't gonna make it with anyone, anyhow". In the late 1960s and early 1970s Maoism was a bit more widespread than it is nowadays.
  • Unplugged Version:
    • "Revolution 1", in contrast to the single version.
    • George Harrison recorded a well-known acoustic version of "While My Guitar Gently Weeps." It finally got released on The Beatles Anthology.
  • Writer Revolt: "Revolution 1" was recorded first and John intended it to be a single, but Paul and George criticised it for being "too slow to be a single".note  In retaliation, John arranged a much faster, more heavily distorted and aggressive take of "Revolution", that ended up becoming the single instead. As Giles Martin said on the sleeve-notes for Love, "even today it defines 'distortion'". John was in fact in such a "you want it louder and faster? I'll show you louder and faster!" mood when the single was recorded that he added some deliberately sloppy vocal overdubs and plugged his guitar directly into the mixing console to get a harsher sound and supplied the opening Metal Scream, and engineer Geoff Emerick added so much compression to Ringo's drums that he inadvertently made the click track audible.

"Good night. Good night everybody. Everybody, everywhere.
Good night."

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alternative title(s): The White Album
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