Before publishing the previous post I should have checked in with Geoff Emerick’s Here, There and Everywhere, which tells us what the reaction was to John’s new song:

There was a pallor across the session that day – we were all too distracted, thinking about Brian – but there was a song to be recorded, too. It was one of John’s, and, somewhat fittingly, it might well have been his strangest one yet….

Lennon sang in a dull monotone, strumming his acoustic guitar as we all gathered around him in the dim studio light. Everyone seemed bewildered…. There was a moment of silence when he finished, then Lennon looked up at George Martin expectantly….

George looked flummoxed. For once he was at a loss for words. “Well, John, to be honest, I have only one question. What the hell do you expect me to do with that?”

Explains why there were 16 takes:

Despite George’s misgivings, the Beatles were determined to work on the song, so they began running down the backing track, with John accompanying himself, unusually, on a Wurlitzer electric piano. He was not a great keyboardist at the best of times, and on this day he was especially unfocused, so he made quite a few fluffs….

Ringo was having trouble holding the beat steady; it was a long song, played at a laconic tempo, so it was tough going. For the first few takes, Paul played bass as usual, but then he opted to switch to tambourine, standing directly in front of Ringo, effectively acting as both a cheerleader and a click track.

And lends a certain poignancy to the proceedings:

I thought it was one of Paul’s finest moments. He was trying to inject some professionalism into a session that was drifting away because the others had their minds on Brian’s death. Even listening to the record today you can hear that they’re distracted, that their minds are not really on what they’re doing. I distinctly remember the look of emptiness on all their faces while they were playing “I Am the Walrus.” It’s one of the saddest memories I have of my time with the Beatles.

“I’m crying, I’m crying,” sings John….

Meanwhile, in the 2017 timeframe, word has just come over the transom of the death of Can founder and bassist Holger Czukay. May he rest in peace; he was a great musician and true innovator. In the obituary I just read on the A.V. Club, the fourth sentence said this:

He became interested in radio technology and music as a young man, but he wasn’t particularly concerned with rock music until he heard The Beatles’ psychedelic 1967 track “I Am The Walrus.”

Perfect symmetry! Mic drop; exit stage left.

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