Having built some momentum with yesterday’s work on “I Am the Walrus,” today the boys added overdubs to that song, recorded John’s lead vocal, and tackled not one but two new tunes: Paul’s “The Fool on the Hill” and George’s “Blue Jay Way.”

The decision to cut “Fool on the Hill,” which had been written back in March, was probably inspired by The Beatles’ recent encounter with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Said Paul,

“The Fool on the Hill” was mine and I think I was writing about someone like Maharishi. His detractors called him a fool. Because of his giggle he wasn’t taken too seriously. It was this idea of a fool on the hill, a guru in a cave, I was attracted to.

The song has its genesis, though, in an experience related by Alistair Taylor — Brian Epstein’s personal assistant and longtime Beatles associate — in his book With the Beatles:

[Paul] drove us the half mile or so to the foot of Primrose Hill. We left the car outside London Zoo and went through the fence up the hill….

We enjoyed the spectacular view in the first light of dawn. There was a real freshness in the air as Martha [Paul’s sheepdog] hurtled off in all directions in search of sheep or, better still, bones, and Paul and I enjoyed a few stolen moments of the day before the rest of London woke up….

“Look at that dawn,” Paul said in a whisper. “How can anybody say that there is no such thing as God, or some power bigger then us. If you stand and look at that sky, you know that there must be more to life than we comprehend…” We were totally absorbed in the sights and sounds in the universe in front of us, as if we were the only men in the abandoned city.

Then, suddenly behind us, a stranger appeared. He was a middle-aged man, very respectably dressed in a belted raincoat and he appeared to have come out of nowhere. One second Paul and I were alone, straining to see which direction Martha would come bounding back from, and the next, this man was there. He said, “Good morning,” politely. “My name is John.”

Paul said “Good morning. Mine’s Paul. This is Alistair and that’s Martha the dog,” as our four-legged friend returned swiftly.

John said, “It’s lovely to meet you. Isn’t this wonderful?” and he walked away.

Paul and I looked at each other and I said. “God, that was peculiar.” I looked round and there was no sign of the man. The stranger had completely disappeared from the top of the hill as if he had just vanished into thin air. There was nowhere for him to go, yet he had just evaporated. Paul and I both felt pretty spooked by this experience. We both thought something special had happened. We sat down rather shakily on the seat and Paul said, “What the hell do you make of that? That’s weird. He was here, wasn’t he? We did speak to him?”

“Sure. He was here only seconds ago,” I said.

“Let’s go home,” muttered Paul.

Back at Cavendish, we spent the rest of the morning talking about what we had seen and heard and felt. It sounds just like any acid tripper’s fantasy to say they had a religious experience on Primrose Hill just before the morning rush hour, but neither of us had taken anything like that. Scotch and Coke was the only thing we had touched all night. We both felt afterwards that we had been through some sort of mystical experience, yet we didn’t care to name, even to each other, what or who we had seen on that hilltop for those few brief seconds.

So…did God really appear to Paul McCartney on the top of Primrose Hill? I couldn’t say, but if he did, I bet he was right pleased to have a song written about him; then later annoyed that the Maharishi got all the press.

The version of “The Fool on the Hill” recorded today was a solo demo by Paul, intended mainly just to get something down on tape so they could refer to it later. You can hear the demo on Anthology 2 if you’re so inclined.

“Blue Jay Way,” meanwhile, was given the rather perfunctory treatment generally afforded to George songs. The basic track was knocked out in a single take, with George and John on organ, Paul on bass, and Ringo on drums. Then they called it quits and slept the sleep of the righteous.

 

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