The Paul McCartney Project

The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill

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:

The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill” is a song credited to Lennon–McCartney, but written by John Lennon, and released by the Beatles on their 1968 album The Beatles (also known as the White Album).

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 song opens with a flamenco guitar solo (taken from a seldom-heard Mellotron bank of Spanish guitar runs). The solo involves all seven notes of the Phrygian mode, including a Spanish-sounding flat2, a natural seventh from the harmonic minor scale and a blues-sounding flat5. 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 (providing the only female lead vocal on a Beatles’ recording, for a single line). The Mellotron reappears again using the mandolin setting and the trombone setting – the outro which is played by producer Chris Thomas. 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.

Recording

The song was recorded by the Beatles at Abbey Road Studios on 8 October 1968 and was completed including all overdubs in this one session. They also started and completed the Lennon-composed “I’m So Tired” during the same recording session.

This marks the only occasion in a Beatles song that either a woman or a non-Beatle sings lead vocal, when Yoko Ono sings “Not when he looks so fierce“. […]

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.

Last updated on August 18, 2016

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?

Officially appears on


The Beatles (Mono)

Official album • 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:
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)

Official album • 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:
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 (2018)

Official album • Released in 2018

3:14 • Studio versionR2018 • 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:
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 (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 2

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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