Today was a day off for The Beatles, with filming of Magical Mystery Tour set to begin tomorrow. But I’ve been learning so much about “I Am the Walrus” this week that I felt compelled to share.

Q: Why a Walrus?

According to Mr. Lennon,

“Walrus” is just saying a dream – the words don’t mean a lot. People draw so many conclusions and it’s ridiculous… What does it really mean, “I am the eggman”? It could have been the pudding basin for all I care. It’s not that serious.

It is clear, though, that the direct source was Lewis Carroll’s “The Walrus and the Carpenter.” John later commented,

It never dawned on me that Lewis Carroll was commenting on the capitalist system. I never went into that bit about what he really meant, like people are doing with the Beatles’ work. Later, I went back and looked at it and realised that the walrus was the bad guy in the story and the carpenter was the good guy. I thought, Oh, shit, I picked the wrong guy. I should have said, “I am the carpenter.”

But that, of course, would have reignited the whole “bigger than Jesus” kerfuffle. On the whole, the Walrus was the prudent choice.

Q: Who was the Walrus, really?

In “Glass Onion,” John says that “the Walrus was Paul.” But later, in his solo song “God,” he reclaimed the name for himself: “I was the Walrus/now I’m John.” (In the National Lampoon’s “Magical Misery Tour,” the Lennon character explains, “Paul wasn’t the Walrus. I was just saying that to be nice, but I was actually the Walrus.”)

The true answer, I think, is that we are all the Walrus. The question is how much we realize our Walrusness.

Q: Who was the Eggman?

It is generally agreed that the Eggman was Animals frontman Eric Burdon. Legend has it that Burdon for some reason liked to break eggs on women when he had sex with them, but he himself says:

The nickname stuck after a wild experience I’d had at the time with a Jamaican girlfriend called Sylvia. I was up early one morning cooking breakfast, naked except for my socks, and she slid up beside me and slipped an amyl nitrite capsule under my nose. As the fumes set my brain alight and I slid to the kitchen floor, she reached to the counter and grabbed an egg, which she cracked into the pit of my belly. The white and yellow of the egg ran down my naked front and Sylvia began to show me one Jamaican trick after another. I shared the story with John at a party at a Mayfair flat one night with a handful of others. Lennon, finding the story amusing and hilarious, replied, “Go on, go get it, Eggman.”

As it happens, Burdon got married 50 years ago this week, on September 7, 1967. Some lovely footage is extant, in which no eggs are broken:

Q. Who was the Elementary Penguin?

The fact that this penguin is “singing Hare Krishna” might lead one to think that it’s George Harrison, but in fact this is a reference to Allen Ginsburg. Said John,

I’d seen Allen Ginsberg and some other people who liked Dylan and Jesus go on about Hare Krishna. It was Ginsberg, in particular, I was referring to. The words “elementary penguin” meant that it’s naive to just go around chanting Hare Krishna or putting all your faith in one idol.

And there we have it. That’s probably enough data dump for a lazy Sunday.

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