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"The Fool On The Hill"

Categories: Beatles songs

First stop, The French Riviera — for Paul at least. Only a truly magic bus could've got him there so quickly nearly three decades before the opening of the Channel Tunnel.

"The Fool On The Hill", composed on his dad's piano, had been knocking around for a while: but it was only due to John's pushing that it got to be completed. It would've been foolish not to've done, wouldn't it now? Early efforts are chronicled on Anthology 2.

Paul suggested that The Fool was The Maharishi, who was usually considered a bit daft by the general public 'on account of his giggle'. There was a little hoo-ha at the time, from certain factions at least, that it was intended as a slight upon Christ on Calvary.

Like anyone who stands against the norms of society's expectations, this fool is 'despised and rejected by men', though he pays no heed to his detractors:

He knows that they're the fools.

Rather, he is an attentive observer of all that goes on around (around, around, around):

The fool on the hill
Sees the sun going down,
And the eyes in his head
See the world spinning round.

More or less contemporary with Mystery Tour, I've always found it intriguing that, from an altogether different hillside, Love's "Red Telephone" call by renowned acid-clown Arthur Lee reached a remarkably similar conclusion: "I'd feel much better on the other side..."

The Fool card in the Tarot represents a childlike intuition of the cycles of nature and our place within them. The Court Jester of the medieval period, for all his buffoonery, also had a uniquely privileged insight into the mechanisms of his world; and the figure of The Fool in Shakespeare is invariably the most perceptive personality of all his characters.

"The Fool" is probably the first great McCartney piano ballad, and still stands as part of his live set. On the record, he provided a fine solo vocal — and his recorder playing (backed by three flutes) revealed a new aspect of his instrumental talents. Throwing in a curious combination of harmonicas, finger-cymbals and jaw-harp to complement their more habitual instruments, his fellow-Fabs were also far from leaving him

alone on the hill.
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