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"Being For The Benefit Of Mr Kite!"

Categories: Beatles songs

Albeit unintentionally, "Being For The Benefit Of Mr Kite!" fitted the original but quickly-dropped 'psychedelic-retro' concept of Pepper to perfection, and remains one of the most adventurous escapades on the great experimental album. Having lifted the lyric virtually word for word from a Victorian circus poster, which he'd picked up during a break in the filming of the "Strawberry Fields" promo, Lennon challenged George Martin to give him "the smell of the sawdust".

"Having been some days in preparation", trying and rejecting loops and splices of all shapes and sizes, Martin went for the ultimate experiment. He had engineer Geoff Emerick chop up all the tape segments of fairground organs, calliopes and the like with a big pair of scissors, toss 'em into the air and stick 'em back together at random. Like "Messrs K and H" before them, their production was second to none: it still sounds as though that sawdust had been used to soak up a huge acid-spill...

Lennon laid a piano and Hammond part over the top, though I always picture him hamming it up like one of those old-time theatrical Wurlitzer players. Glockenspiel, harmonium and yet another organ were added by GM; and mouth organs were tootled by John, George, Ringo, Mal and Neil. Ringo's death-defying trapeze rolls and splashes are the perfect foil to Paul's trampoline bassline.

What a scene!

However justified the BBC were in their detection of drug references in "Lucy" and "A Day In The Life", their affirmation that dear old Henry the Horse's waltz was an incitement to shoot heroin was way off the mark. Lennon was quite rightly outraged: as he later affirmed, "I'd never even seen it in those days..."

It's a bill-topping finale to the first side of the LP — and, on CD — provides a great set-up for "Within You Without You". Its metamorphosis into "Helter Skelter"/"So Heavy" on LOVE is — for me, at least, one of the finest sections of that whole project.

A splendid time is guaranteed for all!
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