The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Album This song officially appears on the The Beatles (Mono) LP.
Timeline This song has been officially released in 1968

Master album


Related articles


The Beatles in India

February 19 to March 26, 1968

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Song facts

From Wikipedia:

“The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill” is a song written by John Lennon (credited to Lennon–McCartney), and released by the English rock band the Beatles on their 1968 double album The Beatles (also known as the “White Album”). The song was recorded at EMI Studios on 8 October 1968 and was completed (including all overdubs) the same day. The group also started and completed the Lennon-composed “I’m So Tired” during the same recording session. Along with Lennon, the song also contains co-lead vocals by Yoko Ono, the only song recorded by the group to feature lead vocals by a non-member.

Composition

This song mocks the actions of a young American named Richard A. Cooke III, known as Rik, who was visiting his mother, Nancy Cooke de Herrera, at the ashram of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in Rishikesh at the same time that the Beatles were staying with the Maharishi. According to his mother, both she and her son maintained friendly relations with all of the Beatles except for Lennon, who by Cooke de Herrera’s account was “a genius” but distant and contemptuous of the wealthy American Cooke de Herrera and her clean-cut, college-attending son. According to Nancy’s life account, Beyond Gurus, the genesis of the song occurred when she, Rik, and several others, including guides, set out upon elephants to hunt for a tiger (allegedly presented by their Indian guide as a traditional act). The pack of elephants was attacked by a tiger, which was shot by Rik. Rik was initially proud of his quick reaction and posed for a photograph with his prize. However, Rik’s reaction to the slaying was mixed, as he has not hunted since. Nancy claims that all present recognised the necessity of Rik’s action, but that Lennon’s reaction was scornful and sarcastic, asking Rik: “But wouldn’t you call that slightly life-destructive?” The song was written by Lennon as mocking what he saw as Rik’s bravado and unenlightened attitude.

Lennon later told his version of the story in a Playboy interview, stating that: “‘Bungalow Bill’ was written about a guy in Maharishi’s meditation camp who took a short break to go shoot a few poor tigers, and then came back to commune with God. There used to be a character called Jungle Jim, and I combined him with Buffalo Bill. It’s sort of a teenage social-comment song and a bit of a joke.” Mia Farrow, who was also at the ashram during the period, supports Lennon’s story in her autobiography; she writes, “Then a self-important, middle-aged American woman arrived, moving a mountain of luggage into the brand-new private bungalow next to Maharishi’s along with her son, a bland young man named Bill. People fled this newcomer, and no one was sorry when she left the ashram after a short time to go tiger hunting, unaware that their presence had inspired a new Beatles song – ‘Bungalow Bill.'”

Musical structure

The note-sequence of the melody for the opening line, “Hey Bungalow Bill” is identical to that beginning “Stay as Sweet as You Are”, the title line of the 1957 song. Both songs also subsequently rephrase the line at a lower pitch, adding to the possibility of a link.[citation needed]

The song opens with a flamenco guitar phrase, played from a standard Mellotron bank of pre-recorded rhythms and phrases by studio engineer Chris Thomas. It is unknown how the sample was chosen. The solo involves all seven notes of the Phrygian mode, including a Spanish-sounding ♭II, a natural seventh from the harmonic minor scale and a blues-sounding ♭5. On some CD reissues, this solo closes the previous track, “Wild Honey Pie“. The opening guitar solo is followed by the chorus in the key of C major, shifting between V (G on “Bungalow”) and iv (Fm on “what did you”). What follows is a relative minor bridge starting with Am (on “He went out”) then shifting to ♭VI (F on “elephant”) and ♭VII (G on “gun”). Lennon then uses a V (E on “all-American”) ♭VII (G on “bullet-headed”) i (Am on “Saxon-mother’s”) and ♭VI (Fm on “son”) to get back to the C major key. It is sung by all four Beatles, Ringo’s then-wife Maureen, and Yoko Ono. The Mellotron reappears during the verses, played by Lennon, using mandolin samples, and during the outro, played by Thomas, using trombone samples. Lennon, who wrote the song, is the primary lead singer. Like the majority of Beatles songs written by either Lennon or Paul McCartney, it is credited to Lennon–McCartney.

Legacy

In Revolution in the Head, Ian MacDonald describes “The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill” as a “lapse into tub-thumping banality.”

Coinciding with the 50th anniversary of its release, Jacob Stolworthy of The Independent listed “The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill” at number 24 in his ranking of the White Album’s 30 tracks. He agreed with Lennon’s statement that the song is “a bit of fun” and that “despite arriving early on, “Bungalow Bill” lingers in the mind as a slice of tone-shifting oddness.” […]

From The Usenet Guide to Beatles Recording Variations:

[a] stereo 9 Oct 1968. edited.
UK: Apple PCS 7067 white album 1968.
US: Apple SWBO 101 white album 1968.
CD: EMI CDP 7 46443 2 white album 1987.

[b] mono 9 Oct 1968. edited.
UK: Apple PMC 7067 white album 1968.

The guitar intro is one of the sample tapes included in a mellotron, played by an unknown person, and is part of this recording. The “eh up” after the song is also part of this recording.

This is the continuing story of Richard “Rikki” Cooke III in his own words: My Last Hunt, published in Chasing the Light – From Who was Bungalow Bill from the Beatles White Album and what happened to him? He tells us! | The Uncarved Blog

Last updated on July 29, 2021

Lyrics

Hey, Bungalow Bill
What did you kill, Bungalow Bill?
Hey, Bungalow Bill
What did you kill, Bungalow Bill?

He went out tiger hunting with his elephant and gun
In case of accidents he always took his mom
He's the all-American bullet-headed Saxon mother's son
All the children sing

Hey, Bungalow Bill
What did you kill, Bungalow Bill?
Hey, Bungalow Bill
What did you kill, Bungalow Bill?

Deep in the jungle where the mighty tiger lies
Bill and his elephants were taken by surprise
So Captain Marvel zapped him right between the eyes
All the children sing

Hey, Bungalow Bill
What did you kill, Bungalow Bill?
Hey, Bungalow Bill
What did you kill, Bungalow Bill?

The children asked him if to kill was not a sin
"Not when he looked so fierce," his mommy butted in
If looks could kill it would have been us instead of him
All the children sing

Hey, Bungalow Bill
What did you kill, Bungalow Bill?
Hey, Bungalow Bill
What did you kill, Bungalow Bill?

Hey, Bungalow Bill
What did you kill, Bungalow Bill?
Hey, Bungalow Bill
What did you kill, Bungalow Bill?

Hey, Bungalow Bill
What did you kill, Bungalow Bill?
Hey, Bungalow Bill
What did you kill, Bungalow Bill?

Hey, Bungalow Bill
What did you kill, Bungalow Bill?
Hey, Bungalow Bill
What did you kill, Bungalow Bill?

Variations


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


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

B2009 2009 mono remaster • From "The Beatles in Mono (2009)"


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


Officially appears on


The Beatles (Mono)

LP • Released in 1968

3:14 • Studio versionB • Mono

Paul McCartney :
Backing vocals, Bass
Ringo Starr :
Backing vocals, Drums, Tambourine
John Lennon :
Acoustic guitar, Organ, Vocals
George Harrison :
Acoustic guitar, Backing vocals
George Martin :
Producer
Yoko Ono :
Backing vocals, Vocals
Chris Thomas :
Mellotron
Ken Scott :
Recording engineer
Maureen Starkey :
Backing vocals

Session Recording:
Oct 08, 1968
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Overdubs:
Oct 08, 1968
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Mixing:
Oct 09, 1968
Studio :
EMI Studios, Abbey Road


The Beatles (Stereo)

LP • Released in 1968

3:14 • Studio versionA • Stereo

Paul McCartney :
Backing vocals, Bass
Ringo Starr :
Backing vocals, Drums, Tambourine
John Lennon :
Acoustic guitar, Organ, Vocals
George Harrison :
Acoustic guitar, Backing vocals
George Martin :
Producer
Yoko Ono :
Backing vocals, Vocals
Chris Thomas :
Mellotron
Ken Scott :
Recording engineer
Maureen Starkey :
Backing vocals

Session Recording:
Oct 08, 1968
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Overdubs:
Oct 08, 1968
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Mixing:
Oct 09, 1968
Studio :
EMI Studios, Abbey Road


The Beatles (Mono - 2009 remaster)

Official album • Released in 2009

3:14 • Studio versionB2009 • Mono • 2009 mono remaster

Paul McCartney :
Backing vocals, Bass
Ringo Starr :
Backing vocals, Drums, Tambourine
John Lennon :
Acoustic guitar, Organ, Vocals
George Harrison :
Acoustic guitar, Backing vocals
George Martin :
Producer
Yoko Ono :
Backing vocals, Vocals
Chris Thomas :
Mellotron
Ken Scott :
Recording engineer
Maureen Starkey :
Backing vocals
Paul Hicks :
Remastering
Guy Massey :
Remastering
Sean Magee :
Remastering
Allan Rouse :
Project co-ordinator

Session Recording:
Oct 08, 1968
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Overdubs:
Oct 08, 1968
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Mixing:
Oct 09, 1968
Studio :
EMI Studios, Abbey Road


The Beatles (Stereo - 2009 remaster)

Official album • Released in 2009

3:14 • Studio versionA2009 • Stereo • 2009 stereo remaster

Paul McCartney :
Backing vocals, Bass
Ringo Starr :
Backing vocals, Drums, Tambourine
John Lennon :
Acoustic guitar, Organ, Vocals
George Harrison :
Acoustic guitar, Backing vocals
George Martin :
Producer
Yoko Ono :
Backing vocals, Vocals
Chris Thomas :
Mellotron
Ken Scott :
Recording engineer
Maureen Starkey :
Backing vocals
Guy Massey :
Remastering
Steve Rooke :
Remastering
Allan Rouse :
Project co-ordinator

Session Recording:
Oct 08, 1968
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Overdubs:
Oct 08, 1968
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Mixing:
Oct 09, 1968
Studio :
EMI Studios, Abbey Road


The Beatles (Mono - 2014 vinyl)

LP • Released in 2014

3:14 • Studio versionB2014 • Mono • 2014 remaster

Paul McCartney :
Backing vocals, Bass
Ringo Starr :
Backing vocals, Drums, Tambourine
John Lennon :
Acoustic guitar, Organ, Vocals
George Harrison :
Acoustic guitar, Backing vocals
George Martin :
Producer
Yoko Ono :
Backing vocals, Vocals
Chris Thomas :
Mellotron
Ken Scott :
Recording engineer
Maureen Starkey :
Backing vocals
Sean Magee :
Remastering
Steve Berkowitz :
Remastering

Session Recording:
Oct 08, 1968
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Overdubs:
Oct 08, 1968
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Mixing:
Oct 09, 1968
Studio :
EMI Studios, Abbey Road


The Beatles (50th anniversary boxset)

Official album • Released in 2018

3:14 • Studio versionC • Stereo • 2018 stereo mix

Paul McCartney :
Backing vocals, Bass
Ringo Starr :
Backing vocals, Drums, Tambourine
John Lennon :
Acoustic guitar, Organ, Vocals
George Harrison :
Acoustic guitar, Backing vocals
George Martin :
Producer
Giles Martin :
Producer
Yoko Ono :
Backing vocals, Vocals
Chris Thomas :
Mellotron
Ken Scott :
Recording engineer
Maureen Starkey :
Backing vocals
Sam Okell :
Mixing engineer

Session Recording:
Oct 08, 1968
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Overdubs:
Oct 08, 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

2:40 • DemoD • Esher Demo

Paul McCartney :
Backing vocals, Handclapping
Ringo Starr :
Backing vocals, Handclapping
John Lennon :
Acoustic guitar, Lead vocals
George Harrison :
Backing vocals, Handclapping
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

3:12 • OuttakeE • Take 2

Paul McCartney :
Bass
Ringo Starr :
Backing vocals, Drums
John Lennon :
Acoustic guitar, Lead vocals
George Harrison :
Acoustic guitar
George Martin :
Producer
Giles Martin :
Mixing engineer, Producer
Yoko Ono :
Backing vocals, Lead vocals
Ken Scott :
Recording engineer

Session Recording:
Oct 08, 1968
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Bootlegs


Complete Home Recordings 1968

Unofficial album • Released in 2002

2:48 • Demo

Live performances

Paul McCartney has never played this song in concert.

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