The Paul McCartney Project

Polythene Pam

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Album This song officially appears on the Abbey Road Official album.
Timeline This song has been officially released in 1969
Sessions This song has been recorded during the following sessions

Spread the love! If you like what you are seeing, share it on social networks and let others know about The Paul McCartney Project.

Song facts

From Wikipedia:

Polythene Pam” is a song written by John Lennon, credited to Lennon–McCartney, and performed by the Beatles on their album Abbey Road. The song is part of the B-side medley.

Background and composition

The song was originally introduced during The Beatles sessions; a demo from the Esher Sessions can be found on Anthology 3. Lennon would describe this song, along with “Mean Mr. Mustard“, in The Beatles Anthology as “a bit of crap I wrote in India“.

In 1980, John Lennon said about “Polythene Pam“: “That was me, remembering a little event with a woman in Jersey, and a man who was England’s answer to Allen Ginsberg…I met him when we were on tour and he took me back to his apartment and I had a girl and he had one he wanted me to meet. He said she dressed up in polythene, which she did. She didn’t wear jack boots and kilts, I just sort of elaborated. Perverted sex in a polythene bag. Just looking for something to write about.” The song is sung in a very strong Liverpudlian “Scouse” accent. Lennon borrowed the acoustic guitar style in The Who’s “Pinball Wizard” for “Polythene Pam“.

Polythene is a British variant of the word polyethylene, a plastic material. The name ‘Polythene Pam‘ came from the nickname of an early Beatles’ fan from the Cavern Club days, named Pat Hodgett (now Dawson), who would often eat polythene. She became known as ‘Polythene Pat‘. She said in an interview, “I used to eat polythene all the time. I’d tie it in knots and then eat it. Sometimes I even used to burn it and then eat it when it got cold.

Placement on Abbey Road

On the album Abbey Road, the song is linked with the previous song “Mean Mr. Mustard” musically, as the two run together without pause. The two songs are also linked narratively, since “Mean Mr. Mustard” mentions that the title character Mustard has a sister named Pam. Originally, the line “his sister Pam…” in the song was “his sister Shirley…“, but Lennon would change the line to contribute to the continuity of the Abbey Road side two medley. The song “Her Majesty” was originally set between “Mean Mr. Mustard” and “Polythene Pam“. “Polythene Pam” then segues into the following song, “She Came In Through the Bathroom Window“.

At 0:47, someone picks up a tambourine and, in the left channel, Paul McCartney can be heard saying “Yeah,” while Lennon says, “Great“. Compositionally, “Polythene Pam” ends with the final notes of the guitar solo, at which point Lennon says, “Well listen to that Mal.” (Referring to Mal Evans, the road manager of the Beatles.) Lennon laughs, followed by “Oh, look out!” and a sudden, nearly-inaudible “You should…” before the transition. Also, in the guitar solo, someone can barely be heard counting measure numbers.

The song also includes a bass guitar mistake by McCartney which was deliberately left in the master recording. During the instrumental response to the song’s second chorus of “yeah, yeah, yeah“, McCartney overran and corrected a bass glissando, resulting in an oscillating effect. Harrison and George Martin argued that it was effective for the song, and was retained. […]

From The Usenet Guide to Beatles Recording Variations:

  • [a] stereo 14 Aug 1969. crossfaded 14 Aug 1969.
    UK: Apple PCS 7088 Abbey Road 1969.
    US: Apple SO-383 Abbey Road 1969.
    CD: EMI CDP 7 46446 2 Abbey Road 1987.

[Polythene Pam / She Came In Through The Bathroom Window] were recorded straight through. The crossfade joins this to the preceding song, Sun King / Mean Mr Mustard.

Last updated on November 29, 2016

Lyrics

Well you should see Polythene Pam
She's so good-looking but she looks like a man
Well you should see her in drag dressed in her polythene bag
Yes you should see Polythene Pam
Yeah, yeah, yeah

Get a dose of her in jackboots and kilt
She's killer-diller when she's dressed to the hilt
She's the kind of a girl that makes the "News of the World"
Yes you could say she was attractively built
Yeah, yeah, yeah

Officially appears on


Abbey Road

Official album • Released in 1969

1:13 • Studio versionA • Stereo

Paul McCartney:
Backing vocals, Bass, Electric piano, Lead guitar, Piano
Ringo Starr:
Cowbell, Drums, Maracas, Tambourine
John Lennon:
12-string acoustic guitar, Handclaps, Rhythm guitar, Vocals
George Harrison:
Backing vocals, Lead guitar
George Martin:
Producer
Geoff Emerick:
Engineer
Phil McDonald:
Engineer

Session Recording:
Recording & overdubs
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Recording:
Overdubs
Studio:
EMI Studios, Abbey Road

Session Recording:
Overdubs & mixing
Studio:
EMI Studios, Abbey Road


Anthology 3

Official album • Released in 1996

1:26 • DemoB • Mono • John only.

Session Recording:
Late May 1968
Studio:
George Harrison's Home, Kinfauns, Esher, Surrey, UK


The Beatles (2018)

Official album • Released in 2018

Demo

Session Recording:
Late May 1968
Studio:
George Harrison's Home, Kinfauns, Esher, Surrey, UK

Bootlegs


Complete Acetate Collection 1961-1970

Unofficial album

4:16 • Studio version • Mean Mr Mustard--Bathroom window


White Album Sessions Volume 1

Unofficial album

1:25 • Studio version


Complete Home Recordings 1968

Unofficial album • Released in 2002

1:26 • Demo


A/B Road Complete Get Back Sessions - Jan 24th, 1969 - 1 & 2

Unofficial album • Released in 2004

2:09 • Rehearsal • Jan.24 - D2-19 - Polythene Pam 24.44

Session Recording:
Jan 24, 1969
Studio:
Apple Studios, 3 Savile Row, London


Uncovered! 45 tracks

Unofficial album • Released in 2012

1:23 • Studio version • John's Guitar And Ringo's Drums, Full Ending

Live performances

Paul McCartney has never played this song in concert.


Contribute!

Have you spotted an error on the page? Do you want to suggest new content? Or do you simply want to leave a comment ? Please use the form below!

Your comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.