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"Baby You're A Rich Man"

Categories: Beatles songs

How does it feel to be one of the beautiful people?

Once again, Mr JW "Baby You're A Rich Man" Lennon seems to be questioning himself as much as anybody else on the Magical Mystery Trip. Though George rated his claim to have taken 'thousands of trips' to be somewhat exaggerated, Lennon's acid consumption round this time was certainly copious:

Often enough to know

that he was addling his brain: especially given the ongoing problems in his personal life. Trying to make sense of it all from a lysergic perspective never has — and never will — result in very clear responses... Nevertheless, in spite of all the turmoil, or perhaps to temporarily escape it, he's

Happy to be that way!

His quizzical rhetoric continues, to be answered by Paul's typically affirmative response refrain:

Baby, you're a rich man too!

The melding of the two separate song sections, with their two disparate points of view (and vocal approaches), makes for a wonderfully wacky piece of popsy psychedelica. As the flip-side to the hippie philosophy of "All You Need Is Love", it's a fine example of the generation's stoned sense of fun, in much the same way as the Small Faces' "Itchycoo Park", released just a month later in the UK. The Who, of course, hi-jacked the bus with attitude the following year.

Musically, it's every bit as eccentric as the lyric. There's a pervading rumour that Brian Jones tootled a production-warped oboe to provide that squiggly snake-charmer sound, though it was actually created by Lennon playing around on a primitive sort of synthesizer called a clavioline. Mick Jagger, however, may or may not have helped out with the backing vocals. Both John and Paul pummeled pianos, reiterating the solid bassline and drums. George's guitar takes something of a backseat, but his handclaps are right up there with Ringo's.

John Lennon blows a trumpet into poor Brian Epstein's ear

"Baby you're a deaf man, if I have anything to say about it..."
The money in a brown paper bag was a deliberate reference to Brian Epstein: but did Lennon really slip the words "rich fag Jew" into the chorus as a poke at their wealthy, homosexual, Hebraic manager; as yet another pervading Beatle-rumour suggests?

What a thing to do!

It's actually impossible to ascertain — though definitely not beyond the bounds of possibility, given his sense of humour. Having said that, it's difficult to imagine 'Eppy' — so close to his tragic end — being truly offended by such a quip from the one he'd always favoured most highly amongst all four of 'his boys'. One can only picture him smiling benignly, shaking his head and quietly tutting, "Oh, John!"
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