"Hey Bulldog" was recorded in February '68, just before The Beatles flew out to India, at the same time as they filmed the "Lady Madonna"
promo. Written round the banging piano riff, I suspect that it was also Mr Lennon's way of showing Mr McCartney that he wasn't the only one who could compose on the keyboard. Mr Martin showed he
thought so, linking them on (and in) LOVE
With the camera crew on hand, the band took the unprecedented decision of allowing themselves to be filmed 'on the job'. A splendid time was guaranteed for all!
Originally called 'Bullfrog
', the title and refrain were modified on the spot when Macca began barking for some reason. Had that opening line got him pining for his own Sheepdog, Martha
, or was he simply hamming it up for the cameras? "Haven't got a clue": but our Johnny picked right up on it, egging him on for that wonderfully wacky dialogue that leads into the fadeout:Whadya say?
I say 'ruff!'
Y'know any more?
Beatle intuition at its very best:You got it, that's it man!
'A good-sounding record that means nothing', JL himself classified it. On the first point there can be no argument: it's one of the best stompin' rockers he'd turned out in years: and there's "some kind of happiness" and enthusiasm in everyone's contributions that positively ate into the acetate. Corkin' vocal, with Paul so tight in there its hard to separate the two of 'em — as it is the piano and bass. Exemplary soloing from Mr Harrison, and "Big Man" Starkey excels. Geoff Emerick reckoned it to be one of the last good times he saw them have in the studio.
'Meaningless', on the other paw, is another matter. Whether or not he actually realized it, Lennon was once again demonstrating all his hang-ups and uncertainties in the lyric. Take it as a conversation with himself, Strawberry
-style, and all those "some kind of" soliloquies become clear as onion-glass
.You can talk to me,
If you're lonely you can talk to me!
Jack-knife John knew all about lonely round this time, as he'd graphically illustrate with "Yer Blues"
on the White Album
when they got back from Rishikesh a few months later.
As the only new song to be recorded more or less specifically for the Yellow Sub
movie, it was a little ironic that "Bulldog" got castrated for the US release. The distributors apparently considered that the voyage was a little long for American passengers. In the British version, it accompanied a scene towards the end, where the Fab Four tame the Chief Meanie's fearsome three-headed hound into singing backing.Hey Bulldog!
*Dedicated to my son Will and his black dog.