Self-reference

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Michael Gerber

Publisher at The American Bystander
is Blogmom of Hey Dullblog. His novels and parodies have sold 1.25 million copies in 25 languages. He lives in Santa Monica, CA, and runs The American Bystander all-star print humor magazine.
Michael Gerber
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Can we attempt a complete catalogue of Fab Four self-referentiality? By which I mean things like:

1. “Glass Onion”: “The Walrus was Paul”
2. John singing “She loves you” toward the end of “All You Need Is Love”
3. “I Am the Walrus”: “…like Lucy in the Sky…”
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17 Comments

  1. Avatar Fabrich wrote:

    “Glass Onion:
    I told you about strawberry fields,
    You know the place where nothing is real.

    Lady Madonna trying to make ends meet-yeah.

    I told you about the fool on the hill,I tell you man he living there still.

    Fixing a hole in the ocean
    Trying to make a dove-tail joint-yeah.

    “All You Need is Love” also quotes Yesterday

    “Savoy Truffle” We all know Ob-la-Di-Bla-Da But can you show me, where you are?..

  2. Avatar Alex wrote:

    Ringo singing “She loves you yeah yeah yeah” at the end of “All You Need Is Love.”

    And, of course, John Lennon’s “How Do You Sleep”: “So Sgt. Pepper took you by surprise…” and “The only thing you done was Yesterday/and since you’re just Another Day.” (Plus visually the Lennon/pig postcard mocking the McCartney/ram postcard.)

  3. If this encompasses solo work, George’s “When We Was Fab,” John’s “I’m the Greatest,” and Ringo’s “Liverpool 8” are about as blatantly “self” as referential gets. Paul, curiously, has nothing so Beatle-direct among his solo songs, that I know of. (“Here Today” doesn’t count because it doesn’t actually refer to John.)

  4. And don’t forget Ringo’s “Early 1970.”

  5. Avatar Michael wrote:

    Paul’s unreleased “Return to Pepperland,” and will you accept “All Those Years Ago”?

  6. Avatar Cara wrote:

    How about If I Fell? “‘…’cause I’ve been in love before and I found that love was more than just holding hands…” The earliest self-reference?

  7. “If I Fell” — yes, without a doubt. Brilliant!

  8. Avatar Mudarra wrote:

    Three things:
    1. On his solo album All Things Must Pass, George has a musical reference to Hey Jude in the long fade-out of Isn’t It a Pity (the first version) – a chorus, buried but audible in the mix, repeats the “Na, na, na…” phrase.
    2. I believe it is Paul who sings “She loves you, yeah, yeah, yeah” at the end of All You Need Is Love.
    3. A Question: Does the line “trying to make a dovetail joint” in Glass Onion actually refer to a song? It always struck me as a joke, referring to a lyric that sounds Beatley, but was never in fact written.

  9. Avatar Mudarra wrote:

    Also, George’s line “Not guilty of leading you astray on the Road to Mandalay” (in Not Guilty), normally taken to refer to the trip to the Maharishi’s ashram, could be taken to refer more generally to the Beatles’ embrace, led by George, of Indian music and culture.

  10. Avatar Michael wrote:

    And also, “…making friends with every Sikh.”

  11. In the “Our World” video, it’s John singing “She loves you” in the fade-out. Paul throws in the reference to “Yesterday.”

    I think these have to be lyrical references, not musical quotes or evocations, to count.

    “Like Lucy in the sky” — “I Am the Walrus”

  12. Avatar Anonymous wrote:

    Hope I’m not too far off topic here, but as far as references…

    I stumbled upon an oddity and a rarity, an ELO song “Beatles Forever” that was cut from an album in 1983 and never released. It starts with a familiar chord….

  13. Avatar Ed wrote:

    Anon, somehow the lo-fi (and backstory) add to the song’s charm (read: counteract what I’d probably deem “too corny”). I’ve never heard of this song before—thanks!

  14. Avatar Ed wrote:

    Anon, somehow the lo-fi (and backstory) add to the song’s charm (read: counteract what I’d probably deem “too corny”). I’ve never heard of this song before—thanks!

  15. Avatar Ed wrote:

    Anon, somehow the lo-fi (and backstory) add to the song’s charm (read: counteract what I’d probably deem “too corny”). I’ve never heard of this song before—thanks!

  16. Avatar Sharon wrote:

    This is sort of backwards self referential, but at the end of Helter Skelter (just before the first fade), you very distinctly hear the guitar riff that George later plays in My Sweet Lord. Listen; you’ll recognize it immediately.

  17. Avatar Ed wrote:

    And I now think “The Ballad of John and Yoko” needs to be included!

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