Hey Bulldog

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Album This song officially appears on the Yellow Submarine (Mono) LP.
Timeline This song has been officially released in 1969

Related sessions

This song has been recorded during the following studio sessions




Related interviews


The Club Sandwich Interview

Winter 1994 • From Club Sandwich

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Song facts

I remember “Hey Bulldog” as being one of John’s songs and I helped him finish it off in the studio, but it’s mainly his vibe. There’s a little rap at the end between John and I, we went into a crazy little thing at the end. We always tried to make every song different because we figured, why write something like the last one? We’ve done that.

Paul McCartney – from “Many Years From Now”, by Barry Miles, 1997

From Wikipedia:

“Hey Bulldog” is a song by the English rock band the Beatles released on their 1969 soundtrack album Yellow Submarine. Credited to Lennon–McCartney, but written primarily by John Lennon, it was finished in the recording studio by both Lennon and Paul McCartney. The song was recorded during the filming of the “Lady Madonna” promotional film, and, with “Lady Madonna”, is one of the few Beatles songs based on a piano riff.

It had a working title of “She Can Talk To Me”. For many years, “Hey Bulldog” was a relatively obscure and overlooked song in the Beatles’ catalogue; it has since been reappraised by fans and a number of critics and musicians as one of the band’s best rock songs.

Background and composition

John Lennon began composing “Hey Bulldog”, originally “Hey Bullfrog”, after United Artists requested another song by the Beatles for Yellow Submarine, the upcoming soundtrack album for their animated film of the same name. Demo recordings made in the winter of 1967–68 at his Kenwood estate in Weybridge include the melody that later became the song’s chorus, as well as a section working out the “she can talk to me” passage.

The finished composition of “Hey Bulldog” switches between the keys of C major and C minor and is in 4/4 time. Commentators have variously described the song as blues-based rock, psychedelic rock, pop rock, acid rock or a simple rock number. In a beginning reminiscent of the Beatles’ cover of Barrett Strong’s “Money (That’s What I Want)“, the song’s opening piano riff is played in octaves before being doubled in a higher register by two guitars and a lower bass register. The song includes two bridges and two middle verses, with the bridge closer in style to a refrain. The song’s introductory riff repeats throughout the song, appearing at the end of the refrain and the outro, as well as further influencing the refrain. The song’s lyrics utilize heavy word play, which Lennon later said “[mean] nothing”.

Recording

The Beatles went to EMI’s Studio Three on 11 February 1968 to record a promotional film for “Lady Madonna“, but decided upon arrival to record a new song instead. Lennon suggested his half-completed idea “Hey Bullfrog”, which he and Paul McCartney finished while in the studio. McCartney later recalled misreading Lennon’s handwritten lyrics, changing “measured out in news” to “measured out in you”, which Lennon preferred to the original.

George Martin produced the session, assisted by balance engineer Geoff Emerick. The camera crew remained in the studio with the band as they recorded the basic track, featuring piano, drums, tambourine, bass guitar and rhythm guitar. As the band neared the end of the basic track for “Hey Bulldog”, McCartney attempted to make Lennon laugh by barking like a dog. Lennon changed the song’s name to “Hey Bulldog”, though the title phrase does not appear until the outro.

After the band recorded ten takes, the last attempt was marked “best”. The camera crew left as the band continued working on the song with various overdubs onto take ten, including off-beat drums from Ringo Starr, a distorted Gibson SG from George Harrison for the song’s intro, double tracked vocals from Lennon and a harmony vocal from McCartney. Borrowing Harrison’s SG, Lennon recorded a lead guitar solo.[note 2]

After the band finished adding overdubs, Martin and Emerick mixed the song for mono twice. While the Beatles would often ad lib offhandedly at the end of recordings, their other songs faded out before this became audible. Martin and Emerick decided to instead leave the dog barks, shouts and screams in the final recording, at one point adding heavy compression to some of Lennon’s dialogue and dog noises. They raised the song in pitch slightly, running the playback fast. With the mono version intended for use in the animated film, Emerick returned to Studio Three on 29 October 1968 to mix the song for stereo, this version being included on the original soundtrack LP.

Release

Apple released Yellow Submarine in the US on 13 January 1969, with “Hey Bulldog” sequenced as the fourth track, between “All Together Now” and “It’s All Too Much“. Released in the UK followed four days later. Emerick praised McCartney’s bass playing on the recording, describing it as his most inventive since that of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

During these sessions, a film crew photographed the Beatles recording the song at EMI’s Abbey Road studios for a promotional film to be released during their scheduled four-month retreat to India (which was later edited together as a promotional film for the single “Lady Madonna“).

The song was used in a segment of the animated film Yellow Submarine. Initially, it appeared only in some European theatrical prints. It was cut from the American version by the movie’s producer Al Brodax as he and the group felt the film was too long. It was restored for the film’s 1999 re-release. To promote the reissue, Apple went back to the original footage shot for the “Lady Madonna” promo film and restructured it for use as a promotional clip for “Hey Bulldog” (as it is possible to identify what they were playing, and therefore possible to synchronise the music with the original footage). The 1999 clip was included in the three-disc versions (titled 1+) of the Beatles’ 2015 video compilation 1. […]

From The Usenet Guide to Beatles Recording Variations:

[a] stereo 29 Oct 1968.
UK: Apple PCS 7070 Yellow Submarine 1969.
US: Apple SW 153 Yellow Submarine 1969.
CD: EMI CDP 7 46445 2 Yellow Submarine 1987.

[a1] mono made from [a] 1968.
UK: Apple PMC 7070 Yellow Submarine 1969.

An 11 February 1968 mono mix was in the film print used at the London premiere of Yellow Submarine, but the song was then dropped from the film entirely. The version of the film with the song has occasionally appeared in the UK but is not the standard version there either.

Last updated on September 17, 2021

Lyrics

Sheepdog, standing in the rain
Bullfrog, doing it again
Some kind of happiness is
Measured out in miles
What makes you think you're
Something special when you smile

Childlike no one understands
Jackknife in your sweaty hands
Some kind of innocence is
Measured out in years
You don't know what it's like
To listen to your fears

You can talk to me
You can talk to me
You can talk to me
If you're lonely, you can talk to me

Big man (yeah) walking in the park
Wigwam frightened of the dark
Some kind of solitude is
Measured out in you
You think you know me, but you haven't got a clue

You can talk to me
You can talk to me
You can talk to me
If you're lonely, you can talk to me

Hey Hey

Roar

Hey, Bulldog (Hey Bulldog)

Woof

Hey, Bulldog
Hey, Bulldog
Hey, Bulldog

Hey man

Whats up brother?

Roof

What do ya say

I say, "roof"

You know any more?

Ah ah (You got it, that's it, you had it!)
That's it man, Wo ho, That's it, you got it!

Woah

Look at me man, I only had ten children

Ah ah ah ah ah ah ha ha ha ha
Quiet! Quiet! (OK)
Quiet!
Hey, Bulldog, Hey Bulldog

Officially appears on


Yellow Submarine (Mono)

LP • Released in 1969

3:11 • Studio versionA1 • Mono • Mono made from [A]

Paul McCartney :
Bass, Tambourine, Vocals
Ringo Starr :
Drums
John Lennon :
Guitar, Piano, Vocals
George Harrison :
Guitar
George Martin :
Producer
Geoff Emerick :
Recording engineer

Session Recording:
Feb 11, 1968
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Three, Abbey Road

Session Overdubs:
Feb 11, 1968
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Three, Abbey Road

Session Mixing:
Oct 29, 1968
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Three, Abbey Road


Yellow Submarine (Stereo)

LP • Released in 1969

3:11 • Studio versionA • Stereo

Paul McCartney :
Bass, Tambourine, Vocals
Ringo Starr :
Drums
John Lennon :
Guitar, Piano, Vocals
George Harrison :
Guitar
George Martin :
Producer
Geoff Emerick :
Recording engineer

Session Recording:
Feb 11, 1968
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Three, Abbey Road

Session Overdubs:
Feb 11, 1968
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Three, Abbey Road

Session Mixing:
Oct 29, 1968
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Three, Abbey Road


Yellow Submarine Songtrack

Official album • Released in 1999

3:14 • Studio versionB • 1999 remix

Paul McCartney :
Bass, Tambourine, Vocals
Ringo Starr :
Drums
John Lennon :
Guitar, Piano, Vocals
George Harrison :
Guitar
George Martin :
Producer
Geoff Emerick :
Recording engineer
Paul Hicks :
Remix engineer assistant
Mirek Stiles :
Remix engineer assistant
Peter Cobbin :
Remix engineer

Session Recording:
Feb 11, 1968
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Three, Abbey Road

Session Overdubs:
Feb 11, 1968
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Three, Abbey Road

Session Mixing:
Circa 1999
Studio :
EMI Studios, Abbey Road


Mono Masters (Mono - 2009 remaster)

Official album • Released in 2009

3:11 • Studio versionC • Mono • Previously unreleased mono mix

Paul McCartney :
Bass, Tambourine, Vocals
Ringo Starr :
Drums
John Lennon :
Guitar, Piano, Vocals
George Harrison :
Guitar
George Martin :
Producer
Geoff Emerick :
Recording engineer
Paul Hicks :
Remastering
Guy Massey :
Remastering
Sean Magee :
Remastering
Allan Rouse :
Project co-ordinator

Session Recording:
Feb 11, 1968
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Three, Abbey Road

Session Overdubs:
Feb 11, 1968
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Three, Abbey Road

Session Mixing:
Feb 11, 1968
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Three, Abbey Road


Yellow Submarine (Stereo - 2009 remaster)

Official album • Released in 2009

3:11 • Studio versionA2009 • Stereo • 2009 remaster

Paul McCartney :
Bass, Tambourine, Vocals
Ringo Starr :
Drums
John Lennon :
Guitar, Piano, Vocals
George Harrison :
Guitar
George Martin :
Producer
Geoff Emerick :
Recording engineer
Paul Hicks :
Remastering
Guy Massey :
Remastering
Steve Rooke :
Remastering
Allan Rouse :
Project co-ordinator

Session Recording:
Feb 11, 1968
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Three, Abbey Road

Session Overdubs:
Feb 11, 1968
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Three, Abbey Road

Session Mixing:
Oct 29, 1968
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Three, Abbey Road


Mono Masters (Mono - 2014 vinyl)

Official album • Released in 2014

3:11 • Studio versionC2014 • Mono

Paul McCartney :
Bass, Tambourine, Vocals
Ringo Starr :
Drums
John Lennon :
Guitar, Piano, Vocals
George Harrison :
Guitar
George Martin :
Producer
Geoff Emerick :
Recording engineer
Sean Magee :
Remastering
Steve Berkowitz :
Remastering

Session Recording:
Feb 11, 1968
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Three, Abbey Road

Session Overdubs:
Feb 11, 1968
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Three, Abbey Road

Session Mixing:
Feb 11, 1968
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Three, Abbey Road

Bootlegs


Yellow Submarine Sessions

Unofficial album

0:49 • Outtake • Take 1 Or 2 Partial Mono


Yellow Submarine Sessions

Unofficial album

0:22 • Outtake • Unknown Take - 2 Versions Mono


Yellow Submarine Sessions

Unofficial album

0:07 • Outtake • Unknown Take - Mono


Yellow Submarine Sessions

Unofficial album

3:10 • Outtake • RM2 From Take 10 Mono


Yellow Submarine Sessions

Unofficial album

3:12 • Outtake • RS From Take 10 V1 Stereo


Films


Hey Bulldog

1999 • For The Beatles • Directed by Tony Bramwell

Live performances

Paul McCartney has never played this song in concert.

Going further


If we like to think, in all modesty, that the Paul McCartney Project is the best online ressource for everything Paul McCartney, The Beatles Bible is for sure the definitive online site focused on the Beatles. There are obviously some overlap in terms of content between the two sites, but also some major differences in terms of approach.

Read more on The Beatles Bible

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