Sgt. Pepper Inner Groove

Written by Paul McCartneyRingo StarrJohn LennonGeorge Harrison Instrumental

Album This song officially appears on the Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Mono) LP.
Timeline This song has been officially released in 1967

Related sessions

This song has been recorded during the following studio sessions

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Song facts

When we came to putting the record together, Paul said: ‘You know, when these records are pressed, there’s a run-out groove that takes the needle to and fro to get the automatic change working. Why don’t we put some music in there? Something silly.’

‘O.K.,’ I said, ‘if you want a bit of a joke. I don’t think anyone’s ever done it, but why not?’

‘Let’s go down and do something in the studio, then,’ he said. So the four of them went down and chanted silly little things, each one different, without any sense; ‘yum tum, tim ting’ sort of sounds. I snipped about two seconds off the tape of that and put it into the run-out groove so that it went round and round for ever. Of course, when the record came out, all the fanatics heard this weird noise on the run-out groove and started wondering what it was, and why they had done it. Then the interpretations started.

Finally, it came back to me as the craziest of all Beatle analyses: ‘Hey, if you play that backwards, it says an obscene phrase.’ Well, with a huge stretch of the imagination I suppose it did, but that was certainly never intended. It was simply typical of what the Beatle cult could produce, with every record being turned inside-out and upside-down in an effort to discern hidden meanings.

They even discovered the dog’s recording, which was intended, but only as a private joke; it was never publicly announced. Not content with his nonsense in the run-out groove, Paul had said, ‘We never record anything for animals. You realise that, don’t you? Let’s put on something which only a dog can hear.’

‘All right,’ I said. ‘A dog’s audio range is much higher than a human’s. Let’s put on a note of about 20,000 hertz.’ It was a little private signal for dogs. They heard it, all right. But they weren’t Beatle-lovers; they hated it, and they whined whenever it was played. I doubt very much if it’s still there on modern pressings of the record. Knowing the EMI hierarchy, I expect they have said, ‘It’s a silly waste of time. Snip it off.’ Not being a dog, however, I just don’t know.

George Martin – From “All You Need Is Ears“, 1979

At the end of Pepper, when we finished the whole thing, we all felt pretty elated to have finished it. So, as a little in-joke for ourselves, we decided to fix the end of the record so that there would be something on it. On the run-out grooves on the album, on the second side, we put a bit of nonsense. In fact, the way we did it we said, ‘Let’s just put a noise on the end, so people will say, ‘What the hell is that?’ And Paul, John, George and Ringo went down into the studio and just started shouting, saying a lot of gibberish in a chaotic sort of way. I recorded them for about thirty seconds and I took, literally, about four seconds and we wrapped it into the groove around the centre, so it just kept on going round and round, the same noise. It was a completely random recording. EMI engineers thought I had taken leave of my senses when I explained what I wanted. But, a month after the album was released, we found out that people had been playing the damn thing backwards, and found out, by playing it backwards, there was an obscene word to be heard. And, sure enough, Paul said, ‘Have you heard it?’ And when you play it, it does say an obscene word.

George Martin – From “The Beatles: Off the Record” by Keith Badman, 2008

As I say, nine times out of ten, it’s really nothing. The backward thing, at the end of Sgt Pepper, ‘We’ll fuck you like supermen.’ Some fans came around to my door, giggling. I said, ‘Hello, what do you want?’ They said, ‘Is it true that bit at the end? Is it true? It says, ‘We’ll fuck you like supermen.’ So, I said, ‘No, you’re kidding! I haven’t heard it, but I’ll play it.’ It was just some piece of conversation that was recorded and turned backwards. I went back inside after I had seen them and played it studiously, turned it backwards with my thumb against the motor, turned the motor off and did it backwards. And there it was, sure as anything, plain as anything. ‘We’ll fuck you like supermen.’ I thought, Jesus, what can you do? During one of the recording sessions, I suggested that we should include a track especially for the dogs. And so, in a pause after ‘A Day In The Life’, there is an electronic note pitched at 18 kilocycles, a whistle inaudible to the human ear, and outside the range of modest record-players, but on high fidelity equipment, a loud and clear call to all dogs.

Paul McCartney – From “The Beatles: Off the Record” by Keith Badman, 2008
From Melody Maker – September 2, 1967
From The People – July 16, 1967

About the naughty words heard when playing the track backwards:

Believe me, this wasn’t intentional. We put those extra words on the end of Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band for all the people whose record players do not turn off automatically.

Paul McCartney – From “The Beatles: Off the Record” by Keith Badman, 2008

I am surprised at this further refinement to the LP. It would be absolutely fortuitous if the final phrase reversed into anything meaningful. It is a good example of the myths that grow up around the boys.

George Martin – From “The Beatles: Off the Record” by Keith Badman, 2008

We write songs; we know what we mean by them. But in a week someone else says something about it, says that it means that as well, and you can’t deny it. Things take on millions of meanings. I don’t understand it.

A fantastic example is the inner track on the back of Sergeant Pepper that plays for hours if your automatic doesn’t cut off. It’s like a mantra in Yoga and the meaning changes and it all becomes dissociated from what it is saying [the changing meaning of an endlessly repeated phrase is the subject of experiments by Dr Chris Evans at the National Physical Laboratory]. You get a pure buzz after a while because it’s so boring it ceases to mean anything.

But have you heard the incredible thing some people have found about it? If you play it backwards, with your finger turning the record, it says ‘Fug your fugging superman’. It really says it and this seems incredible, because all we did was to get round the mike and jabber, saying all sorts of things. I only found out this week from two giggling girls. I thought it must be something dirty. It’s amazing people should think we go into it to that extent.

Paul McCartney – Interview with The Observer, November 1967

Last updated on August 31, 2023

Live performances

Paul McCartney has never played this song in concert.


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