The good people of Great Britain don’t use Labor Day to mark the end of summer the way we do in the States; their version is, somewhat more sensibly, in May. But The Beatles nonetheless took a three-day weekend between their band meeting on Friday and the session today, their first in a couple weeks.

During that time John had been working on a new song to contribute to Magical Mystery Tour — or, more accurately, stitching together three ideas he’d been working on to form a new whole. According to Steve Turner’s A Hard Day’s Write,

The first, inspired by hearing a distant police siren while at home in Weybridge, started with the words “Mis-ter ci-ty policeman” and fitted the rhythm of the siren. The second was a pastoral melody about his Weybridge garden. The third was a nonsense song about sitting on a corn flake.

Much of this material was inspired by various acid trips, but it’s unclear whether John had actually taken any LSD over the weekend, just a week after officially swearing off it. What it clear is that he’d intentionally set out to throw together the biggest load of gibberish he could, after receiving a letter from an English schoolboy whose class had been assigned to analyze Beatles lyrics. “This amused John,” says Turner, “who decided to confuse such people with a song full of the most perplexing and incoherent clues.” (Remember: John was a joker, and he done what he pleased.)

So did any of his bandmates or his producer bat an eyelid when he sat down and began to sing “I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together”? I couldn’t say, but even if they did, they got to work pretty quickly. 16 takes of “I Am the Walrus” were recorded between 7 PM and 1 AM, with John on vocals and electric piano, Paul on bass and tambourine, George on guitar, and Ringo on drums.

Some Mellotron was also added, but at this point the song was pretty bare-bones compared to what it would become. There was also, says The Beatles Bible,

An extra bar prior to the “Yellow matter custard” verse, which caused the group some problems when performing. They were supposed to play a C major seventh chord during the bar as a transition back to the verse…but had trouble remembering the change. The bar was eventually removed during the editing stage.

You can hear this mystery bar, complete with screw-up, at approximately 1:40 of the Anthology 2 version; and if you don’t have Anthology 2, for Pete’s sake go take care of that right now. Don’t make me tell you again.

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