Magical Mystery Tour is the ninth studio album by The Beatles, released in 1967.
It began as the soundtrack for the film of the same name. This proved problematic, as the Magical Mystery Tour movie only had six songs, too few to make up an album. In the UK it was released as a double EP, basically two single discs packaged together with three songs each. Capitol Records wanted a longer version for the American market, so they fleshed the album out by adding five songs that were previously released as singles in 1967, with the film soundtrack being Side One and the singles filling up Side Two.
In a rare case for Beatles releases (and 1960's British music as a whole), the US album version has since become the definitive one, owing largely to the greater number of tracks, including two ("Strawberry Fields Forever" and "Penny Lane") that were originally intended for Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band; as British convention in the 1960's dictated that singles were not to be included on any studio albums, the inclusion of past singles on the American release helped made it feel more fleshed out without seeming redundant when put up against the band's UK studio albums. It is the only Beatles album where the American version is considered part of the "canonical" studio catalogue (as defined by the band's debut on the Compact Disc format in 1987, which only included the band's British studio albums with the sole exception of this one). It was also the last Beatles album to have different British and American tracklistings. The final compilation album of non-album tracks for the U.S. market would be the Rarities compilation in 1980, which would eventually be superseded in 1988 with the Past Masters compilation.
Unlike the Magical Mystery Tour film, which was heavily criticised upon release, this album was an immediate critical and commercial success. This makes it an example of a Cult Soundtrack more popular than the film itself.
Tracklist (US Version):
- "Magical Mystery Tour" (2:48)
- "The Fool on the Hill" (2:59)
- "Flying" (2:16)
- "Blue Jay Way" (3:54)
- "Your Mother Should Know" (2:33)
- "I Am the Walrus" (4:35)
- "Hello, Goodbye" (3:24)
- "Strawberry Fields Forever" (4:05)
- "Penny Lane" (3:00)
- "Baby, You're a Rich Man" (3:07)
- "All You Need Is Love" (3:57)
Tracklist (UK Version):
Disc One:Side One
- "Magical Mystery Tour" (2:48)
- "Your Mother Should Know" (2:33)
- "I Am The Walrus" (4:35)
Disc Two:Side Three
- "The Fool On The Hill" (3:00)
- "Flying" (2:16)
- "Blue Jay Way" (3:50)
- George Harrison - guitar, backing and lead vocals, organ, harmonica
- John Lennon - lead vocals, guitar, keyboard, piano, mellotron, organ, clavioline, harmonica
- Paul McCartney - lead vocals, bass, piano, mellotron, recorder
- Ringo Starr - drums, percussion
Troping in an English garden, waiting for the sun:
- Alice Allusion: The title of "I Am The Walrus" itself is an Alice Allusion to the Walrus and the Carpenter from Alice in Wonderland, making it an accidental Villain Song, because Lennon wasn't aware that the walrus was the villain in the song. Though he eventually found out about the mistake, he decided against changing it, pointing out that "I Am The Carpenter" would not be quite as catchy a title.
- Animal Motifs: The band members are dressed as a walrus and eggman on the album cover, in reference to "I Am The Walrus".
- Bilingual Bonus: "Hello, Goodbye" ends with chants of the word "Aloha", which means "greetings" in Hawaiian dialect and is used in place of both "hello" and "goodbye".
- Brick Joke: Lennon sings he is the walrus in "I Am The Walrus". Little Nicola (a character from the movie) however claims, according to the booklet of the album, he is not. The answer was finally solved with "Glass Onion" on The White Album, where John sings: "And here's another clue for you all/ the walrus was Paul." In "God" from John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band he again changed the identity, by saying: "I was the walrus. But now I'm John." (In case anyone's wondering, yes, that's Lennon in the walrus costume.)
- Broken Record: "Blue Jay Way" ends with variations of a certain phrase being repeated 18 times. The phrase? "Don't be long."
- Call-and-Response Song: "Baby, You're A Rich Man".
- Call-Back: "See how they fly/Like Lucy in the Sky/See how they run"
- Canon Immigrant: The American version, which added the band's 1967 singles to Side 2 in order to make it a full album, solving the problem the Beatles had with the soundtrack in the first place (there were not enough songs in the movie for an album, and there was almost no incidental music to pad it with). The American version is now the canonical version, so much so that nearly all post-1987 reissues of the albumnote use the American cover art and the disc label on remastered CDs is modeled after the Capitol Records LP label that was in use at the time of the album's original release (rather than the 7" Parlophone Records label seen on the UK release).
- Cloud Cuckoo Lander: "The Fool On The Hill" about a strange, reclusive man living on a hill, disliked by the others as being a "fool", yet world wise.
- Concept Album: Sort of. It's the Cult Soundtrack to the film, which has a story, but the songs in themselves don't allude to it that much.
- Continuity Nod:
- "All You Need is Love" they begin singing "She Loves You" as the song fades out. "Yesterday" can also be heard at the end of "All You Need is Love".
- The promotional music video for "Hello Goodbye" was one of these, jumping between the band on stage wearing their early, mop-tops-and-suits look and their colorful Sgt. Pepper uniforms.
- Cult Soundtrack: This album is the soundtrack to the TV movie of the same name.
- Either/Or Title: Some early pressings of "I Am The Walrus" had the secondary title "No You're Not, Said Little Nichola." (Nichola was the little girl John entertained on the bus in the film).
- Everybody Knew Already: "Your Mother Should Know".Let's all get up and dance to a song
That was a hit before your mother was born
Though she was born a long, long time ago
Your mother should know.
- Everything Is Better With Penguins: "I Am the Walrus".Elementary penguin singing Hare Krishna
- Face on the Cover: The band, shown from a distance and unrecognisably dressed up.
- Fake-Out Fade-Out:
- Happens during "Strawberry Fields Forever", where the music returns again and John is heard muttering "cranberry sauce".
- "Hello, Goodbye" seems to have ended at one point, then after a brief pause the band jams out while singing "Hey-La Hey-buh Hello-Ah".
- Faux Symbolism: Deliberately invoked with "I Am The Walrus," written after John received a letter from a student who attended Lennon's old primary school about an English master there who was forcing his students to analyse the band's Word Salad Lyrics. Upon finishing the song, complete with his classic "first-thing-you-see" lyrics, Lennon turned to his friend and said "let the fuckers work that one out!". The completely random and nonsense line "semolina pilchard" is a reference to semolina pudding and pilchard sardine cans, according to John's childhood friend, Pete Shotton circa 1983. Another interpretation is that it is a Take That! to Moral Guardian Detective Norman Pilcher, who was more fanatical about arresting pop stars on drugs charges than about smaller things like actually following the rule of law, and had arrested both John and George on separate occasions.
- It's also been argued that "I Am The Walrus" is Lennon's response to the death of Brian Epstein; it was the first recording they made after his death, less than ten days before they first went into the studio to make this song.
- The Fool: On The Hill.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: "Finger pie" (in "Penny Lane") is a reference to pleasuring a woman with one's fingers.
- "Finger pie" is also Liverpool slang for a sausage roll.
- Gratuitous Panning: The album puts almost everything on the left channel, brass on the right channel, and the vocals in the center. The exceptions: "The Fool on the Hill", "Your Mother Should Know", "I Am the Walrus".
- Grief Song: The fade-out of "I Am The Walrus" has lines from a radio broadcast of William Shakespeare's King Lear, where Edgar murders a character named Oswald.
- "I Am" Song/I Am the Noun: "I Am The Walrus".
- I Am Very British: "Strawberry Fields Forever" and "Penny Lane" from Magical Mystery Tour are both about locations in Liverpool.
- "I Am The Walrus"Sitting in an English garden, waiting for the sun
If the sun don't come, you get a tan from standing in the English rain
- "I Am The Walrus"
- Indecipherable Lyrics: There's various overlapping chants towards the end of "I Am the Walrus". A popular interpretation of one of the more audible ones is "everybody smoke pot!", which is close enough since it's actually "Everybody's got one, got one, got one" (the other one is "Oompah oompah stick it up your jumper").
- Instrumental: "Flying". It is the only officially released Instrumental in the Beatles catalogue.
- I Will Wait for You: "Blue Jay Way".There's a fog upon L.A.And my friends have lost their wayWe'll be over soon they saidNow they've lost themselves insteadPlease don't be long please don't you be very longPlease don't be long for I may be asleep
- Last Note Nightmare:
- The dissonant swirling effects at the end of "Blue Jay Way".
- "Strawberry Fields Forever" is the canonical example. It fades out with a gorgeous swarmandel before fading back in with a dissonant mellotron, vicious drumming, trumpets that sound like ambulance sirens, and (most disturbingly) John Lennon's slowed-down voice saying "CRANBERRY SAUCE."
- Even worse if you're a little kid and you think it's "I buried Paul." Ever since then, that song's end is the sound of death.
- Location Song: "Penny Lane," a Nostalgia Filter song about a real Liverpudlian street, and "Strawberry Fields Forever," about a foster's home in the same city. John Lennon had fond memories about the location.
- Man of a Thousand Voices: "Talking perfectly loud," according to "The Fool On The Hill."
- Momma's Boy: "Your Mother Should Know."Though she was born a long time agoYour mother should know
- Never Accepted in His Hometown: The fool in "The Fool On The Hill" lives alone on a hill, while the other villagers dislike him and call him a fool.
- New Sound Album: The Beatles at their most psychedelic.
- Nostalgia Filter: "Penny Lane" and "Strawberry Fields Forever" are both fond memories to a street and a children's institution in Liverpool, named "Strawberry Fields." "Your Mother Should Know" is nostalgic to a song "that was a hit/ before your mother was born."
- Oddball in the Series: The instrumental ditty "Flying", created as Album Filler for the movie soundtrack, is the only song in the Beatles catalogue credited to Lennon-McCartney-Harrison-Starrnote , and the only instrumental they released.note
- Only Sane Man: "The Fool On The Hill" about a man sitting on top of a hill, disliked by everybody, but actually who is actually world wise.And he never listens to themHe knows that they're the foolsBut they don't like himThe fool on the hillSees the sun going downAnd the eyes in his headSee the world spinning around
- People in Rubber Suits
- Please Retain Old Street Name: Penny Lane in Liverpool is named not after the coin but after an 18th-century slave trader of that name. Were it not for the Beatles' song, it would have been renamed years ago.
- The Power of Love: "All You Need Is Love".
- Real Life Writes the Plot: "Penny Lane" was inspired by a real-life street in Liverpool that is now a tourist attraction. "Strawberry Fields" in "Strawberry Fields Forever" is a Salvation Army children's home where Lennon used to play in the garden as a child. "Blue Jay Way" was also inspired by real events. It was written when George was waiting in his house "Blue Jay Way" in Los Angeles for press journalist Derek Taylor.
- Recycled Lyrics: "All You Need is Love" has a reprise of "She loves you, yeah, yeah, yeah" towards the end.
- Refrain from Assuming: That song where the phrase "Don't be long" is repeated over 18 times at the end? It's called "Blue Jay Way".
- Repurposed Pop Song: "Party Seacombe" on George Harrison's later album Wonderwall Music (1968) sounds suspiciously like "Flying".
- The first few seconds of "Strawberry Fields Forever" are made up of flute samples, played on a Mellotron. It was an analogue sampler with different instruments sampled to tape. So when one pushed a key, the tape was played. This made the whole thing huge and as the tapes were being played all the time, it had the tendency to go out of tune after a while.
- "I Am The Walrus" samples a BBC radio production of King Lear.
- Scare Chord: The end of "Strawberry Fields Forever". The song fades out, and after a few seconds comes in a dissonant flute riff, some Scare Chord horns, and someone repeating "Cranberry Sauce" several times into another fade.
- Scatting: "La la la la la la" chanting on the otherwise wordless "Flying" and "Da da da da da da da da da" in "Your Mother Should Now".
- "All You Need Is Love" starts off with the first bars of the French national anthem "La Marseillaise" and ends with musical quotes from Johann Sebastian Bach, Glenn Miller's "In The Mood" and the Beatles own "Yesterday" and "She Loves You". Also heard is "Greensleeves" on strings, but it's kind of hard to make out.
- The title of "I Am The Walrus" is an Alice Allusion to the Walrus and the Carpenter from Alice in Wonderland, making it an accidental Villain Song, because Lennon wasn't aware that the walrus was the villain in the song. This also makes it a Continuity Nod to "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds" from Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, which was also inspired by the novel. Carroll's image appears on the album cover of "Sgt. Peppers" too. "I Am The Walrus" tells us we should have seen "them kicking Edgar Allan Poe", who was also present on the album cover of "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band", by the way. The line about "yellow matter custard" is a reference to a playground nursery rhyme that goes "Yellow matter custard, green slop pie, All mixed together with a dead dog's eye, Slap it on a butty, ten foot thick, Then wash it all down with a cup of cold sick". Near the end a radio rendition of William Shakespeare's King Lear can be heard.
- Spoken Word in Music: "I Am The Walrus" famously includes snippets from a BBC radio production of King Lear. John Lennon drones out "cranberry sauce" at the end of "Strawberry Fields Forever".
- Step Up to the Microphone: George Harrison sings lead on "Blue Jay Way", which he wrote. This is one of the few Beatles albums where Ringo doesn't get any vocals.
- Stylistic Suck: The intentionally awkward guitar solo in "All You Need Is Love".
- The slightly off sounding "I think I know, I mean, ah yes, but it's all wrong" in "Strawberry Fields Forever".
- Surreal Music Video: "Strawberry Fields Forever" and "I Am The Walrus". Trope Maker. Most other early music videos were simple films of performances.
- Troll: John wrote "I Am the Walrus", thrown together from abandoned song ideas and Lewis Carroll scenes, specifically to mess with people who would pore over his lyrics for hidden meanings.
- Trrrilling Rrrs: Rrroll up, roll up for the "Magical Mystery Tour".
- Truck Driver's Gear Change: "Penny Lane".
- Uncommon Time:
- "Strawberry Fields Forever" is played mostly in 4/4 except for "Nothing to get hung about" in 6/4 and "Strawberry fields for-" in 3/8, with "ever" back in 4/4.
- "All You Need Is Love" alternates between 7/4 during the verses and 4/4 in the chorus.
- Urban Legend: Until the release of The Beatles Anthology it has often been believed that John mutters "I buried Paul" near the end of Strawberry Fields Forever, in reference to the supposed death of Paul McCartney. In reality he just says "cranberry sauce", which can be heard more clearly on the out-takes on side 2 of disc 2 of The Beatles Anthology.
- Villain Song: "I Am The Walrus", by accident. John Lennon based the title on the Lewis Carroll poem "The Walrus and the Carpenter", but he didn't know at the time that the walrus was the villain. He went on to say that "I Am the Carpenter" wouldn't be as catchy, however.
- Word Salad Lyrics: "I Am The Walrus" was intentionally written to be this, as Lennon got fed up with crazed fans trying to find hidden and far-fetched clues in their music.
- Your Princess Is in Another Castle!: "Hello, Goodbye".