Sexy Sadie, what have you done?
You made a fool of ev'ryone!
As everybody probably knows, Sadie was the Maharishi — though what nobody seems to agree on is what exactly it was that (s)he did to piss John Lennon off so much. Ringo and Paul had already left Rishikesh by the time that rumours of the yogi's flirtation with a female follower began to circulate. George was convinced that it was all bullshit (he was personally pissed off with the guru trying to plan his itinerary for him): and Paul had a good point when he speculated on the improbability of someone like Mahesh actually knowing how
to make a pass at a girl!
Maybe John was just sore that "the latest and the greatest" hadn't 'slipped him the answer' during their helicopter ride, as he'd been hoping...
Maharishi himself claimed that it was, in fact, The Beatles and their companions who "broke the rules" by taking (unspecified) drugs during their stay at the ashram.
Whatever the case, Lennon and Harrison quit the camp together, with something of a sour taste in both of their mouths. And, with the former always having had the sharper tongue in his
mouth, it was he who started to strum a tune on his acoustic in the back of the taxi, opening with the words:Maharishi, you little twat...
His mild-mannered mate swivelled round, goggle-eyed and announced: "You can't sing that!
" — and so was born "Sexy Sadie": 'a cop-out', according to John.
There was certainly no question of compromise in its elaboration for inclusion on The White Album
, however. Whilst endless retakes and overdubs were typical of the sessions, and often the motive for much of the growing bad feeling ("just a smile would lighten everything..."), this was one of the few tracks to be left simmering on the backburner, the final garnishes not being added until almost a month after the first two days of preparation in July.
The loping intro sets up Lennon to begin laying the lyrical boot in. Paul's piano — as elsewhere on the record — is the part which first catches the attention: lazily plinkety-plonking along with the vocal, then flashing furiously to underline the more acidic observations. The beefy bassline was also his.
There's a meticulous lamination of guitars, too, featuring some wicked little 'leccy licks from George, all masterfully accentuated by Ringo's drums and tambourine. John's Hammond snakes in and out surreptitiously, and his vocal is outstanding — from matter-of-fact resignation, to spat-out sarcasm; with brief flights into falsetto to heighten the irony. And, behind it all, that what-what-what/see-see-see
backing provides him with the perfect foil. Butter wouldn't melt in your mouths, boys!
All in all, a splendid opportunity for everyone to get the whole thing out of their systems, and re-focus on the positive aspects of the experience: which none of them ever denied. Even the cynic-in-chief maintained that 'Meditation is good, and it does what they say', and confessed that their own expectations of Maharishi had probably been a little unrealistic in the first place.Sexy Sadie, you'll get yours yet:
However big you think you are...
She never did, though.
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi put the scandal successfully behind him, and survived an assassination attempt in the early nineties; going on with his transcendental teachings and the promotion of peace initiatives until his passing in 2008 — at a ripe old, but unverifiable, age — continuing to attract followers, celebrity and otherwise:Jai guru deva,