When they went into the studio today for their fourth session in as many days, The Beatles had momentum; things were on the move; you might even say they were flying.

They channeled that creative energy into the creation of an instrumental track to be used in Magical Mystery Tour. Although the Tour would be made by bus, there seems to have been an idea that some kind of aerial sequence would figure in the proceedings. Thus the new song was initially called “Aerial Tour Instrumental.”

Born out of a lengthy, formless jam, it went through many iterations before emerging as the brief song we know as “Flying.” Some of them had a jazzy coda at the end, such as this one:

“Flying” is a rare bird — the only Beatles song with a writing credit by all four, and the only official Beatles instrumental (if you don’t count the wordless chanting, with Ringo’s voice mixed most prominently among the chorus). Slight as it is, I find it quite charming, and its two minutes float by most pleasantly.

Factoid: According to Steve Turner’s A Hard Day’s Write, “The cloud scenes over which ‘Flying’ was heard in the film were originally shot by Stanley Kubrick for 2001: A Space Odyssey but never used.” Further factoid: In 1969 The Beatles acquired the film rights to The Lord of the Rings and asked Kubrick to direct. John was going to play Gollum, Paul Frodo, Ringo Sam, and George was to be Gandalf. Kubrick turned them down flat. Truly, of all the words of blog and pen, the saddest are….

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