The Paul McCartney Project

Sexy Sadie

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:

Sexy Sadie” is a song by the English rock group the Beatles from their 1968 album The Beatles (also known as “the White Album”). The song was written by John Lennon in India and credited to Lennon–McCartney.

Composition

Lennon originally wanted to title the song “Maharishi“, but changed the title to “Sexy Sadie” at George Harrison’s request. Lennon was disillusioned after Maharishi Mahesh Yogi had allegedly made a sexual advance towards Mia Farrow attending the course the Maharishi was teaching at his ashram. (Harrison, Paul McCartney, and Cynthia Lennon later said that they thought the story, which had come from Alexis Mardas, had been fabricated.) Lennon once said of the song: “That was inspired by Maharishi. I wrote it when we had our bags packed and were leaving. It was the last piece I wrote before I left India. I just called him, ‘Sexy Sadie,’ instead of (sings) ‘Maharishi what have you done, you made a fool…’ I was just using the situation to write a song, rather calculatingly but also to express what I felt. I was leaving the Maharishi with a bad taste. You know, it seems that my partings are always not as nice as I’d like them to be.” He told Rolling Stone that when the Maharishi asked why he was leaving, he replied, “Well, if you’re so cosmic, you’ll know why.

After returning from India, Lennon scratched the lyrics into a piece of wood, with the original title “Maharishi“. The recorded version changed only after Harrison insisted that if the song were used he wanted the name changed and persuaded Lennon to change the title to “Sexy Sadie“. Harrison recounts the event in the director’s cut of the Anthology film. Derek Taylor remembered Lennon’s fiddling about scratching the wood in the Apple offices. The wood ended up in the possession of Maureen Starkey and was ultimately sold to a Beatles collector.

According to Mark Lewisohn’s The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions, an early outtake of “Sexy Sadie” features Lennon demonstrating the song’s original working lyrics to the rest of the band: “Maharishi, you little twat/Who the fuck do you think you are?/Who the fuck do you think you are?/Oh, you cunt.

The song’s instrumental fade-out was originally longer and featured a breakdown based around the middle eight. This was edited out prior to mixing.

In a 1968 Rolling Stone interview, Lennon complimented the song “I’ve Been Good To You” by Smokey Robinson and the Miracles. The Miracles song begins with the lines Look what you’ve done / You made a fool out of someone, compared to “Sexy Sadie”‘s What have you done? / You made a fool of everyone.

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

It was a big scandal. Maharishi had tried to get off with one of the chicks. I said, ‘Tell me what happened?’ John said, ‘Remember that blonde American girl with the short hair? Like a Mia Farrow lookalike. She was called Pat or something.’ I said, ‘Yeah’. He said, ‘Well, Maharishi made a pass at her.’ So I said, ‘Yes? What’s wrong with that?’ ‘He said, ‘Well, you know, he’s just a bloody old letch just like everybody else. What the fuck, we can’t go following that!’

They were scandalised. And I was quite shocked at them; I said, ‘But he never said he was a god. In fact very much the opposite. He said, “Don’t treat me like a god, I’m just a meditation teacher.” There was no deal about you mustn’t touch women, was there? There was no vow of chastity involved.’ So I didn’t think it was enough cause to leave the whole meditation centre.

From The Usenet Guide to Beatles Recording Variations:

  • [a] mono 21 Aug 1968.
    UK: Apple PMC 7068 white album 1968.
  • [b] stereo 14 Oct 1968.
    UK: Apple PCS 7068 white album 1968.
    US: Apple SWBO 101 white album 1968.
    CD: EMI CDP 7 46443 2 white album 1987.

Stereo [b] has an extra tap at the start. Mono [a] lacks bass until the vocal starts.

From Anthology 3 liner notes:

Recorded a month earlier and at a slower tempo than the master (which was numbered 117, although nowhere near as many takes had been recorded), this is Take 6 of Sexy Sadie, featuring the basic line-up of electric guitar, drums, organ, and a vocal from the composer John Lennon. The recording is faded out at the end because, at this point, the coda had not been finalised.

Last updated on May 13, 2017

Lyrics

Sexy Sadie, what have you done?
You made a fool of everyone
You made a fool of everyone
Sexy Sadie, oh, what have you done?

Sexy Sadie, you broke the rules
You laid it down for all to see
You laid it down for all to see
Sexy Sadie, oh, you broke the rules

One sunny day the world was waiting for the lover
She came along to turn on everyone
Sexy Sadie, the greatest of them all

Sexy Sadie, how did you know?
The world was waiting just for you
The world was waiting just for you
Sexy Sadie, oh, how did you know?

Sexy Sadie, you'll get yours yet
However big you think you are
However big you think you are
Sexy Sadie, oh, you'll get yours yet

We gave her everything we owned just to sit at her table
Just a smile would lighten everything
Sexy Sadie, she's the latest and the greatest of them all

She made a fool of everyone
Sexy Sadie

However big you think you are
Sexy Sadie

Officially appears on


The Beatles (Mono)

Official album • Released in 1968

3:15 • Studio versionA • Mono

Paul McCartney:
Backing vocals, Bass, Piano
Ringo Starr:
Drums, Tambourine
John Lennon:
Acoustic guitar, Backing vocals, Hammond organ, Rhythm guitar, Vocals
George Harrison:
Backing vocals, Lead guitar
George Martin:
Producer
Ken Scott:
Engineer

Session Recording:
Aug 13, 1968
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Recording:
Aug 21, 1968
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Mixing:
Aug 21, 1968
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road


The Beatles (Stereo)

Official album • Released in 1968

3:15 • Studio versionB • Stereo

Paul McCartney:
Backing vocals, Bass, Piano
Ringo Starr:
Drums, Tambourine
John Lennon:
Acoustic guitar, Backing vocals, Hammond organ, Rhythm guitar, Vocals
George Harrison:
Backing vocals, Lead guitar
George Martin:
Producer
Ken Scott:
Engineer

Session Recording:
Aug 13, 1968
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Recording:
Aug 21, 1968
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Mixing:
Oct 14, 1968
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road


Anthology 3

Official album • Released in 1996

4:06 • OuttakeC • Stereo • Take 6. Recorded a month earlier and at a slower tempo than the master (which was numbered 117, although nowhere near as many takes had been recorded), this is Take 6 of Sexy Sadie, featuring the basic line-up of electric guitar, drums, organ, and a vocal from the composer John Lennon. The recording is faded out at the end because, at this point, the coda had not been finalised.

George Martin:
Producer
Ken Scott:
Engineer

Session Recording:
Jul 19, 1968
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road


The Beatles (2018)

Official album • Released in 2018

3:15 • Studio versionR2018 • Stereo

Paul McCartney:
Backing vocals, Bass, Piano
Ringo Starr:
Drums, Tambourine
John Lennon:
Acoustic guitar, Backing vocals, Hammond organ, Rhythm guitar, Vocals
George Harrison:
Backing vocals, Lead guitar
George Martin:
Producer
Ken Scott:
Engineer

Session Recording:
Aug 13, 1968
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Recording:
Aug 21, 1968
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Mixing:
Oct 14, 1968
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Two, 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 3

Bootlegs


Complete Controlroom Monitor Mixes - Volume 1

Unofficial album

1:15 • Studio version • Fuck A Duck -


Complete Controlroom Monitor Mixes - Volume 1

Unofficial album

3:36 • Studio version • Who The Fuck You Think You Are


White Album Sessions Volume 1

Unofficial album

2:28 • Studio version


White Album Sessions Volume 1

Unofficial album

4:03 • Studio version • Take 6 Stereo


White Album Sessions Volume 1

Unofficial album

0:16 • Studio version • Studio Chat Video Mix Stereo


Live performances

Paul McCartney has never played this song in concert.


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