The Paul McCartney Project

Rocky Raccoon

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Album This song officially appears on the The Beatles (Mono) Official album.
Timeline This song has been officially released in 1968
Sessions This song has been recorded during the following sessions

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Song facts

From Wikipedia:

Rocky Raccoon” is a song by the Beatles from the double-disc album The Beatles (also known as The White Album). The song was primarily written by Paul McCartney, who was inspired while playing acoustic guitar with John Lennon and Donovan in India (where the Beatles had gone on a retreat).

Composition

The song, a folk rock ballad, is titled from the character’s name, which was originally “Rocky Sassoon“, but McCartney changed it to “Rocky Raccoon” because he thought “it sounded more like a cowboy“. Former 13th Floor Elevators’ drummer Danny Thomas claims the name “Rocky” was inspired by Roky Erickson, the American rock band’s then vocalist and guitarist. The Old West-style honky-tonk piano was played by producer George Martin, and the song is notable as the last Beatles song to feature John Lennon’s harmonica playing. The lyrics describe a conflict over a love triangle.

During take 8 of the song (featured on Anthology 3), Paul McCartney flubbed the line “stinking of gin“, singing “sminking” instead. This caused him to laugh, exclaim “Sminking?!” and make up the remaining lines in the song. This take also has a noticeably different spoken-word introduction, with Rocky coming from “a little town in Minnesota“, rather than the album version’s “somewhere in the black mountain hills of Dakota“, and McCartney’s faux-Western accent is more pronounced.

In Mojo magazine in October 2008, McCartney acknowledged that the style of the song is a pastiche, saying: “I was basically spoofing the folksinger.” Lennon attributed the song to Paul, saying: “Couldn’t you guess? Would I have gone to all that trouble about Gideon’s Bible and all that stuff?

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

Rocky Raccoon is quirky, very me. I like talking blues so I started off like that, then I did my tongue-in-cheek parody of a western and threw in some amusing lines. I just tried to keep it amusing, really; it’s me writing a play, a little one-act play giving them most of the dialogue. Rocky Raccoon is the main character, then there’s the girl whose real name was Magill, who called herself Lil, but she was known as Nancy. […]

There are some names I use to amuse, Vera, Chuck and Dave or Nancy and Lil, and there are some I mean to be serious, like Eleanor Rigby, which are a little harder because they have to not be joke names. In this case Rocky Raccoon is some bloke in a raccoon hat, like Davy Crockett. The bit I liked about it was him finding Gideon’s Bible and thinking, Some guy called Gideon must have left it for the next guy. I like the idea of Gideon being a character. You get the meaning and at the same time get in a poke at it. All in good fun. And then of course the doctor is drunk.

FromĀ The Usenet Guide to Beatles Recording Variations:

  • [a] mono 15 Aug 1968.
    UK: Apple PMC 7067 white album 1968.
  • [b] stereo 10 Oct 1968.
    UK: Apple PCS 7067 white album 1968.
    US: Apple SWBO 101 white album 1968.
    CD: EMI CDP 7 46443 2 white album 1987.

Last updated on August 20, 2016

Lyrics

Now somewhere in the black mountain hills of Dakota
There lived a young boy named Rocky Raccoon
And one day his woman ran off with another guy
He hit young Rocky in the eye
Rocky didn't like that he said I'm gonna get that boy

So one day he walked into town
Booked himself a room in the local saloon
Rocky Raccoon checked into his room
Only to find Gideon's bible
Rocky had come equipped with a gun
To shoot off the legs of his rival

His rival it seems had broken his dreams
By stealing the girl of his fancy
Her name was Magill and she called herself Lil
But everyone knew her as Nancy

Now she and her man, who called himself Dan
Were in the next room at the hoedown
Rocky burst in and grinning a grin
He said, Danny boy this is a showdown
But Daniel was hot he drew first and shot
And Rocky collapsed in the corner

Now the doctor came in stinking of gin
And proceeded to lie on the table
He said, Rocky you met your match
And Rocky said, Doc it's only a scratch
And I'll be better, I'll be better Doc as soon as I am able

And now Rocky Raccoon he fell back in his room
Only to find Gideon's bible
Gideon checked out and he left it no doubt
To help with good Rocky's revival

Officially appears on


The Beatles (Mono)

Official album • Released in 1968

3:33 • Studio versionA • Mono

Paul McCartney:
Acoustic guitar, Bass guitar, Vocals
Ringo Starr:
Drums
John Lennon:
Backing vocals, Harmonica, Harmonium, Six-string bass
George Harrison:
Backing vocals
George Martin:
Piano, Producer
Ken Scott:
Engineer

Session Recording:
Aug 15, 1968
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Overdubs:
Aug 15, 1968
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Mixing:
Aug 15, 1968
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road


The Beatles (Stereo)

Official album • Released in 1968

3:33 • Studio versionB • Stereo

Paul McCartney:
Acoustic guitar, Bass guitar, Vocals
Ringo Starr:
Drums
John Lennon:
Backing vocals, Harmonica, Harmonium, Six-string bass
George Harrison:
Backing vocals
George Martin:
Piano, Producer
Ken Scott:
Engineer

Session Recording:
Aug 15, 1968
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Overdubs:
Aug 15, 1968
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Mixing:
Oct 10, 1968
Studio:
EMI Studios, Abbey Road


Anthology 3

Official album • Released in 1996

4:13 • OuttakeC • Stereo • Take 8

George Martin:
Producer
Ken Scott:
Engineer

Session Recording:
Aug 15, 1968
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road


The Beatles (2018)

Official album • Released in 2018

3:33 • Studio versionR2018 • Stereo

Paul McCartney:
Acoustic guitar, Bass guitar, Vocals
Ringo Starr:
Drums
John Lennon:
Backing vocals, Harmonica, Harmonium, Six-string bass
George Harrison:
Backing vocals
George Martin:
Piano, Producer
Ken Scott:
Engineer

Session Recording:
Aug 15, 1968
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Overdubs:
Aug 15, 1968
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Mixing:
Oct 10, 1968
Studio:
EMI Studios, Abbey Road


The Beatles (2018)

Official album • Released in 2018

Demo

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


The Beatles (2018)

Official album • Released in 2018

Outtake • Take 8

Bootlegs


White Album Sessions Volume 1

Unofficial album

4:19 • Studio version • Take 8 Stereo


White Album Sessions Volume 1

Unofficial album

3:32 • Studio version • RM1 From Take 9 Mono


White Album Sessions Volume 1

Unofficial album

0:14 • Studio version • Take 9 Video Mix Stereo


White Album Sessions Volume 1

Unofficial album

0:15 • Studio version • Take 9 DVD Mix Stereo


Unsurpassed Masters Vol. 4 (1968)

Unofficial album • Released in 1989

3:49 • Alternate take • Tk 10 RM 1


Live performances

Paul McCartney has never played this song in concert.


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