Rocky Raccoon

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Album This song officially appears on the The Beatles (Mono) LP.
Timeline This song has been officially released in 1968
Timeline This song has been written (or started being written) in 1968 (Paul McCartney was 26 years old)

Master album


Related interviews


The Long And Winding Down

Dec 01, 1990 • From Club Sandwich


Interview with Radio Luxembourg

Nov 21, 1968 • From Radio Luxembourg

Related articles


The Beatles in India

February 19 to March 26, 1968

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Song facts

It was a difficult song to record, because it had to be all in one take. It would have been very hard to edit, because of the quirkiness of the vocal. But it was fun to do.

Paul McCartney – from “The Beatles” super deluxe book, 2018

From Wikipedia:

“Rocky Raccoon” is a song by the English rock band the Beatles from their 1968 double album The Beatles (also known as the “White Album”). It was primarily written by Paul McCartney, although credited to the Lennon–McCartney partnership. McCartney began writing the song in Rishikesh, India, where the Beatles were studying Transcendental Meditation in the early months of 1968. John Lennon and Scottish singer-songwriter Donovan, who joined the Beatles on their retreat, also made contributions to the song. The Marvel Comics character Rocket Raccoon, created by Bill Mantlo and Keith Giffen, was inspired by the song’s title and some of the lyrics.

Composition

The song, a country 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. “Rocky Raccoon” is also the last Beatles song to feature John Lennon’s harmonica playing.

The lyrics describe a conflict over a love triangle, in which Rocky’s girlfriend Lil Magill (known to the public as Nancy) leaves him for a man named Dan, who punches Rocky in the eye. Rocky vows revenge and takes a room at the saloon in the town where Dan and Nancy are staying. He bursts into Dan’s room, armed with a gun, but Dan out-draws and shoots him. A drunken doctor attends to Rocky, the latter insisting that the wound is only a minor one. Stumbling back to his room, Rocky finds a Gideon Bible and takes it as a sign from God.

During take 8 of the song (featured on Anthology 3), McCartney flubbed the line “stinking of gin”, singing “sminking” instead (presumably confusing the words “smelling” and “stinking”). 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 mining hills of Dakota”, and McCartney’s faux Western-American accent is more pronounced.[citation needed]

Legacy

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 McCartney, saying: “Couldn’t you guess? Would I have gone to all that trouble about Gideon’s Bible and all that stuff?”

Coinciding with the 50th anniversary of its release, Jacob Stolworthy of The Independent listed “Rocky Raccoon” at number 22 in his ranking of the White Album’s 30 tracks. He called the song “proof of McCartney’s songwriting versatility” and continued that the song is “bolstered by a vibrant honky-tonk piano from the group’s long-time record producer George Martin.” […]

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.

I was sitting on the roof in India with a guitar– John and I were sitting ’round playing guitar, and we were with Donovan. And we were just sitting around enjoying ourselves, and I started playing the chords of ‘Rocky Raccoon,’ you know, just messing around. And, oh, originally it was Rocky Sassoon, and we just started making up the words, you know, the three of us– and started just to write them down. They came very quickly. And eventually I changed it from Sassoon to Raccoon, because it sounded more like a cowboy. So there it is. These kind of things– you can’t really talk about how they come ‘cuz they just come into your head, you know. They really do. And it’s like John writing his books. There’s no… I don’t know how he does it, and he doesn’t know how he does it, but he just writes. It’s like any writer, you know. I think people who actually do create and write… you tend to think, ‘Oh, how did he do that,’ but it actually does flow… just flows from into their head, into their hand, and they write it down, you know. And that’s what happened with this. I don’t know anything about the Appalachian mountains or cowboys and indians or anything. But I just made it up, you know. And the doctor came in stinking of gin and proceeded to lie on the table. So, there you are.

Paul McCartney – from interview with Radio Luxembourg, 1968

From 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 September 7, 2021

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

Variations


A Mono version • From "The Beatles (Mono)"

A2009 2009 mono remaster • From "The Beatles in Mono (2009)"


B Stereo version • From "The Beatles (Stereo)"


C Take 8 • From "Anthology 3"


D 2018 stereo mix • From "The Beatles (50th anniversary boxset)"


Officially appears on


The Beatles (Mono)

LP • Released in 1968

3:33 • Studio versionA • Mono

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

LP • Released in 1968

3:33 • Studio versionB • Stereo

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

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


The Beatles (Mono - 2009 remaster)

Official album • Released in 2009

3:33 • Studio versionA2009 • Mono • 2009 mono remaster

Paul McCartney :
Acoustic guitar, Vocals
Ringo Starr :
Drums
John Lennon :
Accordion, Backing vocals, Harmonica, Six-string bass
George Harrison :
Backing vocals
George Martin :
Piano, Producer
Ken Scott :
Recording engineer
Paul Hicks :
Remastering
Guy Massey :
Remastering
Sean Magee :
Remastering
Allan Rouse :
Project co-ordinator

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 - 2009 remaster)

Official album • Released in 2009

3:33 • Studio versionB2009 • Stereo • 2009 stereo remaster

Paul McCartney :
Acoustic guitar, Vocals
Ringo Starr :
Drums
John Lennon :
Accordion, Backing vocals, Harmonica, Six-string bass
George Harrison :
Backing vocals
George Martin :
Piano, Producer
Ken Scott :
Recording engineer
Guy Massey :
Remastering
Steve Rooke :
Remastering
Allan Rouse :
Project co-ordinator

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 (Mono - 2014 vinyl)

LP • Released in 2014

3:33 • Studio versionA2014 • Mono • 2014 remaster

Paul McCartney :
Acoustic guitar, Vocals
Ringo Starr :
Drums
John Lennon :
Accordion, Backing vocals, Harmonica, Six-string bass
George Harrison :
Backing vocals
George Martin :
Piano, Producer
Ken Scott :
Recording engineer
Sean Magee :
Remastering
Steve Berkowitz :
Remastering

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


Anthology 3 (2016 remaster)

Official album • Released in 2016

4:13 • OuttakeC2016 • Stereo • Take 8

George Martin :
Producer
Ken Scott :
Recording engineer

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


The Beatles (50th anniversary boxset)

Official album • Released in 2018

3:33 • Studio versionD • Stereo • 2018 stereo mix

Paul McCartney :
Acoustic guitar, Vocals
Ringo Starr :
Drums
John Lennon :
Accordion, Backing vocals, Harmonica, Six-string bass
George Harrison :
Backing vocals
George Martin :
Piano, Producer
Giles Martin :
Producer
Ken Scott :
Recording engineer
Sam Okell :
Mixing 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:
First half of 2018 ?
Studio :
EMI Studios, Abbey Road


The Beatles (50th anniversary boxset)

Official album • Released in 2018

2:44 • DemoE • Esher Demo

Paul McCartney :
Acoustic guitar, Vocals
Ringo Starr :
Maracas
George Harrison :
Acoustic guitar
Giles Martin :
Mixing engineer, Producer

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


The Beatles (50th anniversary boxset)

Official album • Released in 2018

4:57 • OuttakeF • Take 8

Paul McCartney :
Acoustic guitar, Vocals
John Lennon :
Bass

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

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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