The Paul McCartney Project

Magical Mystery Tour

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Album This song officially appears on the Magical Mystery Tour (Stereo) EP.
Timeline This song has been officially released in 1967
Sessions This song has been recorded during the following sessions

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Song facts

From Wikipedia:

Magical Mystery Tour” is a song by the Beatles, the opening track and theme song for the album, double EP and TV film of the same name. Unlike the theme songs for their other film projects, it was not released as a single.

Composition

Magical Mystery Tour” is credited to Lennon–McCartney, though written primarily by Paul McCartney. McCartney said it was co-written. John Lennon said, “Paul’s song. Maybe I did part of it, but it was his concept.” In 1972, Lennon said, “Paul wrote it. I helped with some of the lyric.” The remaining lyrics explain in a general way the premise of the film: a mystery tour of the type that was popular in Britain when the Beatles were young. Lennon and McCartney expanded the tour to make it magical, which allowed it to be “a little more surreal than the real ones.

There are also other interpretations of the song as an explicit reference to drugs, since the Beatles were experiencing acid in those years. Paul McCartney himself said about the song:

Because those were psychedelic times it had to become a magical mystery tour, a little bit more surreal than the real ones to give us a license to do it. But it employs all the circus and fairground barkers, ‘Roll up! Roll up!’, which was also a reference to rolling up a joint. We were always sticking those little things in that we knew our friends would get; veiled references to drugs and to trips. ‘Magical Mystery Tour is waiting to take you away,’ so that’s a kind of drug, ‘it’s dying to take you away’ so that’s a Tibetan Book of the Dead reference. […] Magical Mystery Tour was the equivalent of a drug trip and we made the film based on that.

Recording

Recording began on 25 April 1967, less than a week after the final sessions for Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. The song was not complete when the session began and much of the evening was spent in rehearsals, but by the end of the evening the basic rhythm track was complete. Bass guitar and vocal overdubs were added by the Beatles on 26 and 27 April. On 3 May, the brass fanfare and other parts were added in a disorganised session where the trumpet players began the evening without a score. According to Philip Jones, a friend of one of the players who was present, one of those players, Elgar Howarth, eventually took matters into his own hands and wrote a score out for them.

Also added to the final mix is the sound of the Bedford VAL14/Plaxton Coach (URO 913E), owned by Fox of Hayes and hired by The Beatles for the film. The screech of the tyres was done by Ringo Starr himself, when he drove the Bedford VAL around RAF West Malling at a high speed.

Release and reception

Magical Mystery Tour” was released as the title track to a six-song double EP in the United Kingdom on 8 December 1967. In the United States, the double EP was stretched to an LP by adding five songs previously released as singles. During the CD era, the LP version was issued on CD in both countries.

Writing in the May 1968 issue of Esquire, Robert Christgau dismissed “Magical Mystery Tour” as “disappointing” and “perfunctory“. In his book Revolution in the Head, Ian MacDonald wrote of the song: “While energetic, the result is manufactured, its thin invention undisguised by a distorted production tricked out with unconvincing time and tempo changes.” Writing for Rough Guides, Chris Ingham describes it as “the bare bones of a song accompanied by faintly tired brassy parping“.

Musicologist Walter Everett writes: “I agree with those who call ‘Magical Mystery Tour’ a warmed-over ‘Sgt. Pepper’-type fanfare/invitation to what’s to follow … The transcendent modulation is not accompanied by compelling enough lyrics or sufficient melodic interest … to rise to greatness.” Richie Unterberger of AllMusic calls it “a pleasant, get-up-and-go tune, but not one of the Beatles’ very best songs“.

Paul McCartney in "Many Years From Now", by Barry Miles:

John and I remembered mystery tours, and we always thought this was a fascinating idea: getting on a bus and not knowing where you were going. Rather romantic and slightly surreal! All these old dears with the blue rinses going off to mysterious places. Generally there’s a crate of ale in the boot of the coach and you sing lots of songs. It’s a charabanc trip. So we took that idea and used it as a basis for a song and the film.

[…] I used to go to the fairgrounds as a kid, the waltzers and the dodgems, but what interested me was the freak shows: the boxing booths, the bearded lady and the sheep with five legs, which actually was a four-legged sheep with one leg sewn on its side. When I touched it, the fellow said, ‘Hey, leave that alone!’ these were the great things of your youth. So much of your writing comes from this period; your golden memories. If I’m stuck for an idea, I can always think of a great summer, think of a time when I went to the seaside. Okay, sand sun waves donkeys laughter. That’s a pretty good scenario for a song.

[…] Magical Mystery Tour was co-written by John and I, very much in our fairground period. One of our great inspirations was always the barker. ‘Roll up! Roll up!’ The promise of something: the newspaper ad that says ‘guaranteed not to crack’, the ‘high class’ butcher, ‘satisfaction guaranteed’ from Sgt Pepper. ‘Come inside,’ ‘Step inside, Love’; you’ll find that pervades a lot of my songs. If you look at all the Lennon-McCartney things, it’s a thing we do a lot.

From The Usenet Guide to Beatles Recording Variations:

  • [a] mono 4 May,7 Nov 1967.
    UK: Parlophone MMT 1 (EP) Magical Mystery Tour 1967.
    US: Capitol MAL 2835 Magical Mystery Tour 1967.
    CD: EMI EP box set 1991.
  • [b] stereo 7 Nov 1967.
    UK: Parlophone SMMT 1 (EP) Magical Mystery Tour 1967, Apple PCSP 718 The Beatles 1967-1970 1973.
    US: Capitol SMAL 2835 Magical Mystery Tour 1967, Apple SKBO-3404 The Beatles 1967-1970 1973.
    CD: EMI CDP 7 48062 2 Magical Mystery Tour 1987, EMI EP box set 1991, EMI CDP 7 97039 2 The Beatles 1967-1970 1993.

The original Magical Mystery Tour film soundtrack uses a May 4 mono mix with different vocals at the beginning: a faster “Roll up, roll up, roll up” with “hurry! hurry!” over it, as well as spoken lines by John during the break (“When a man buys a ticket for a magical mystery tour. . . the incredible Magical Mystery Tour”, the last part given heavy reverb). The stereo mix made in 1988 for home video has the same variant vocals (though the “hurry” lines are louder). These vocals unique to the film may, like the sound effects, be on the film soundtrack proper and not on the 4-track master of the song.

Lewisohn says a new vocal line (unspecified) was added Nov 7 to existing mixes. Possibly this is the “Roll up…” line heard on record and not in the film. No stereo mix is booked prior to Nov 7 either so I presume the one used on records was made then.

Near the end of the instrumental break, the brass part under “Noooow!” is longer in stereo [b] than [a].

Last updated on December 3, 2016

Lyrics

Roll up, roll up for the Magical Mystery Tour!
Step right this way!

Roll up
Roll up for the Mystery Tour
Roll up
Roll up for the Mystery Tour

Roll up
(That's an invitation)
Roll up for the Mystery Tour
Roll up
(To make a reservation)
Roll up for the Mystery Tour

The Magical Mystery Tour
Is waiting to take you away
Waiting to take you away

Roll up
Roll up for the Mystery Tour
Roll up
Roll up for the Mystery Tour

Roll up
(We got everything you need)
Roll up for the Mystery Tour
Roll up
(Satisfaction guaranteed)
Roll up for the Mystery Tour

The Magical Mystery Tour
Is hoping to take you away
Hoping to take you away

Mystery trip

The Magical Mystery Tour
Roll up
Roll up for the Mystery Tour

Roll up
(That's an invitation)
Roll up for the Mystery Tour
Roll up
(To make a reservation)
Roll up for the Mystery Tour

The Magical Mystery Tour
Is coming to take you away
Coming to take you away

The Magical Mystery Tour
Is dying to take you away
Dying to take you away
Take you today

Officially appears on


Magical Mystery Tour (Stereo)

Official album

2:50 • Studio versionB

Paul McCartney:
Bass, Piano, Vocals
Ringo Starr:
Drums, Percussion
John Lennon:
Acoustic rhythm guitar, Percussion, Vocals
George Harrison:
Lead guitar, Percussion, Vocals
George Martin:
Producer
Geoff Emerick:
Engineer
Mal Evans:
Percussion
Neil Aspinall:
Percussion
David Mason:
Trumpets
Elgar Howarth:
Trumpets
Roy Copestake:
Trumpets
John Wilbraham:
Trumpets

Session Recording:
Apr 25, 1967
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Three, Abbey Road

Session Overdubs:
25,26,27 Apr, 3 May, 7 Nov 1967
Studio:
EMI Studios, Abbey Road

Session Mixing:
Nov 07, 1967
Studio:
EMI Studios, Abbey Road


Magical Mystery Tour (Mono)

Official album • Released in 1967

2:50 • Studio versionA

Paul McCartney:
Bass, Piano, Vocals
Ringo Starr:
Drums, Percussion
John Lennon:
Acoustic rhythm guitar, Percussion, Vocals
George Harrison:
Lead guitar, Percussion, Vocals
George Martin:
Producer
Geoff Emerick:
Engineer
Mal Evans:
Percussion
Neil Aspinall:
Percussion
David Mason:
Trumpets
Elgar Howarth:
Trumpets
Roy Copestake:
Trumpets
John Wilbraham:
Trumpets

Session Recording:
Apr 25, 1967
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Three, Abbey Road

Session Overdubs:
25,26,27 Apr, 3 May, 7 Nov 1967
Studio:
EMI Studios, Abbey Road

Session Mixing:
May 04, 1967
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Three, Abbey Road

Session Mixing:
Nov 07, 1967
Studio:
EMI Studios, Abbey Road


Magical Mystery Tour (Mono)

EP • Released in 1967

2:52 • Studio versionA • Mono

Paul McCartney:
Bass, Piano, Vocals
Ringo Starr:
Drums, Percussion
John Lennon:
Acoustic rhythm guitar, Percussion, Vocals
George Harrison:
Lead guitar, Percussion, Vocals
George Martin:
Producer
Geoff Emerick:
Engineer
Mal Evans:
Percussion
Neil Aspinall:
Percussion
David Mason:
Trumpets
Elgar Howarth:
Trumpets
Roy Copestake:
Trumpets
John Wilbraham:
Trumpets

Session Recording:
Apr 25, 1967
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Three, Abbey Road

Session Overdubs:
25,26,27 Apr, 3 May, 7 Nov 1967
Studio:
EMI Studios, Abbey Road

Session Mixing:
May 04, 1967
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Three, Abbey Road

Session Mixing:
Nov 07, 1967
Studio:
EMI Studios, Abbey Road


Magical Mystery Tour (Stereo)

EP • Released in 1967

2:50 • Studio versionB • Stereo

Paul McCartney:
Bass, Piano, Vocals
Ringo Starr:
Drums, Percussion
John Lennon:
Acoustic rhythm guitar, Percussion, Vocals
George Harrison:
Lead guitar, Percussion, Vocals
George Martin:
Producer
Geoff Emerick:
Engineer
Mal Evans:
Percussion
Neil Aspinall:
Percussion
David Mason:
Trumpets
Elgar Howarth:
Trumpets
Roy Copestake:
Trumpets
John Wilbraham:
Trumpets

Session Recording:
Apr 25, 1967
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Three, Abbey Road

Session Overdubs:
25,26,27 Apr, 3 May, 7 Nov 1967
Studio:
EMI Studios, Abbey Road

Session Mixing:
Nov 07, 1967
Studio:
EMI Studios, Abbey Road


Paul Is Live

Official live • Released in 1993

3:15 • LiveL1

Performed by:
Paul McCartneyLinda McCartneyRobbie McIntoshHamish StuartPaul WickensBlair Cunningham
Paul McCartney:
Producer
Geoff Emerick:
Engineering, Mixing
Julian Mendelsohn:
Recording
Bob Kraushaar:
Recording

Concert From the concert in Parramatta, Australia on Mar 23, 1993

Live performances

“Magical Mystery Tour” has been played in 162 concerts and 20 soundchecks.

Latest concerts where “Magical Mystery Tour” has been played


Secret gig at The Cavern Club

Jul 26, 2018 • United Kingdom • Liverpool • The Cavern Club


Tokyo • Nippon Budokan

Apr 25, 2017 • Part of One On One Tour


Lollapalooza Festival

Jul 31, 2015 • Part of Summer festivals 2015


Roskilde Festival

Jul 04, 2015 • Part of Summer festivals 2015


Tokyo • Tokyo Dome

Apr 27, 2015 • Part of Out There Tour



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Salvatore Aversa 1 months ago

So I don't fully get it. Was the additional vocals at the beginning ever cut on vinyl? Or is that version only on CD. And if it was on vinyl, which release?