The Paul McCartney Project

Yer Blues

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:

Yer Blues” is a song by the Beatles from the album The Beatles, also known as The White Album. Though credited to Lennon–McCartney, the song was written and composed by John Lennon during the Beatles’ retreat in Rishikesh, India.

Composition

Lennon said that, while “trying to reach God and feeling suicidal” in India, he wanted to write a blues song, but was unsure if he could imitate the likes of Sleepy John Estes and other original blues artists he had listened to in school. In “Yer Blues,” he alludes to this insecurity with a reference to the character Mr. Jones from Bob Dylan’s “Ballad of a Thin Man,” and with the third verse, which draws on Robert Johnson’s “Hellhound on My Trail.” Instead, Lennon wrote and composed “Yer Blues” as a parody of British imitators of the blues, featuring tongue-in-cheek guitar solos and rock and roll-inspired swing blues passages.

The half-satirical, half-earnest song mockingly acknowledges the British blues boom of 1968 and the debate among the music press at the time of whether white men could sing the blues. According to Walter Everett, the song’s “ponderous earnestness … belies the composer’s satirical tone.” In the chorus, Lennon sings, “If I ain’t dead already, girl you know the reason why.” The writer Jonathan Gould interprets this to be a “joke [in] that nobody knows the reason why—or, for that matter, what any of these bluesy poetics are really supposed to mean.” Gould called “Yer Blues” an example of the “cultural realism” that distinguished the Beatles from their musical contemporaries in Britain: “[T]heir acceptance of the idea that, except as a subject of self-parody, certain expressive modes of African-American music lay outside the realm of their experience and hence beyond their emotional range as singers.

Recording

Yer Blues” was recorded in EMI Studio Two’s “annexe,” which was actually a large closet in the control room. The song is in the key of E major, but like many blues numbers, it prominently features accidentals, such as G natural, D natural, and B flat. The song is primarily in a 6/8 meter, but as with several of Lennon’s songs, the time signature and tempo are altered many times. In interviews for the Beatles Anthology series, Ringo Starr affectionately recalls recording this song in the stripped-down conditions, saying it was like the old days of live performances by The Beatles. The stripped-down, bluesy nature of the song bears similarity to much of Lennon’s early solo output, including “Cold Turkey” and his 1970 John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band album and marks a retreat from the concerns that Lennon had with such studio experimentation as had marked such songs as “Tomorrow Never Knows” and “Strawberry Fields Forever.” The song, along with “Glass Onion” and “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” is one of the few known Beatles songs on which Paul McCartney used a Fender Jazz Bass rather than his better-known Hofner bass or his Rickenbacker bass.

Contributing to the live sound of the song, loud yelling between band members can be heard in the instrumental tracks.

Performance

Just after the album The Beatles came out in late 1968, Lennon performed “Yer Blues” at The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus with a supergroup dubbed “The Dirty Mac,” consisting of himself, Eric Clapton on lead guitar, Keith Richards on bass, and Mitch Mitchell of the Jimi Hendrix Experience on drums. The performance was followed with a boogie instrumental jam called “Whole Lotta Yoko,” featuring dissonant avant-garde violinist Ivry Gitlis and vocals by Yoko Ono. The recording was never originally broadcast, and for decades this performance was only available through bootleg recording, it was finally officially released, on both CD and video, in 1996. Lennon’s performance with the Dirty Mac was his first live performance since the Beatles’s last concert in 1966 and may have contributed to his renewed enthusiasm for live performance in 1969. […]

From The Usenet Guide to Beatles Recording Variations:

  • [a] mono 14,20 Aug 1968. edited.
    UK: Apple PMC 7068 white album 1968.
  • [b] stereo 20 Oct 1968. edited.
    UK: Apple PCS 7068 white album 1968.
    US: Apple SWBO 101 white album 1968.
    CD: EMI CDP 7 46443 2 white album 1987.

The 2d generation tape is an edit of two takes, each of the two tapes being itself a mixdown from the original 4-track. The edit causes an abrupt transition at the end of the guitar solos. In stereo, traces of other vocal and guitar parts can be heard throughout the song in the left channel, including something shouted over parts of the vocal and what sounds like another different guitar solo. After the edit, the trace lead vocal suggests we are hearing the first part of the song from the other take.

The edit in the mixes added the countdown intro, which is louder in mono [a]. [a] is 11 seconds longer, long fade.

Last updated on August 18, 2016

Lyrics

Yes, I'm lonely, wanna die
Yes, I'm lonely, wanna die
If I ain't dead already
Woo! Girl you know the reason why

In the morning, wanna die
In the evening, wanna die
If I ain't dead already
Woo! Girl you know the reason why

My mother was of the sky
My father was of the earth
But I am of the universe
And you know what it's worth

I'm lonely, wanna die
If I ain't dead already
Woo! Girl you know the reason why

The eagle picks my eyes
The worm he licks my bone
I feel so suicidal
Just like Dylan's Mr. Jones

Lonely, wanna die
If I ain't dead already
Woo! Girl you know the reason why

The black cloud crossed my mind
Blue mist round my soul
Feel so suicidal
Even hate my rock and roll

Wanna die, yeah, wanna die
If I ain't dead already
Woo! Girl you know the reason why

Officially appears on


The Beatles (Mono)

Official album • Released in 1968

4:01 • Studio versionA • Mono

Paul McCartney:
Bass
Ringo Starr:
Drums
John Lennon:
Backing vocals, Lead guitar, Vocals
George Harrison:
Lead guitar
George Martin:
Producer
Ken Scott:
Engineer

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

Session Overdubs:
Aug 14, 1968
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Overdubs:
Aug 20, 1968
Studio:
EMI Studios, Abbey Road

Session Mixing:
Aug 14-20, 1968
Studio:
EMI Studios, Abbey Road


The Beatles (Stereo)

Official album • Released in 1968

4:01 • Studio versionB • Stereo

Paul McCartney:
Bass
Ringo Starr:
Drums
John Lennon:
Backing vocals, Lead guitar, Vocals
George Harrison:
Lead guitar
George Martin:
Producer
Ken Scott:
Engineer

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

Session Overdubs:
Aug 14, 1968
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Overdubs:
Aug 20, 1968
Studio:
EMI Studios, Abbey Road

Session Mixing:
Aug 20, 1968
Studio:
EMI Studios, Abbey Road


The Beatles (2018)

Official album • Released in 2018

4:01 • Studio versionR2018 • Stereo

Paul McCartney:
Bass
Ringo Starr:
Drums
John Lennon:
Backing vocals, Lead guitar, Vocals
George Harrison:
Lead guitar
George Martin:
Producer
Ken Scott:
Engineer

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

Session Overdubs:
Aug 14, 1968
Studio:
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Overdubs:
Aug 20, 1968
Studio:
EMI Studios, Abbey Road

Session Mixing:
Aug 20, 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 5 with guide vocal

Bootlegs


Complete Acetate Collection 1961-1970

Unofficial album

4:17 • Studio version • 1


Complete Acetate Collection 1961-1970

Unofficial album

4:02 • Studio version • 2


White Album Sessions Volume 1

Unofficial album

3:33 • Studio version


White Album Sessions Volume 1

Unofficial album

4:17 • Studio version • RM3 From takes 16 & 17 acetate mono


Unsurpassed Masters Vol. 4 (1968)

Unofficial album • Released in 1989

4:39 • Alternate take • edit of tk 16 & 17 RM 3


Live performances

Paul McCartney has never played this song in concert.


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