There are many stories to be told of The Beatles’ time in Rishikesh, but few of them are attached to a specific date. Bob Spitz describes this period as follows:

Everyone wandered the six-acre retreat, spending long hours absorbed in quiet, thoughtful meditation and listening to the Maharishi’s twice-daily instructional lectures, fine-tuning the spiritual fork. A powerful camaraderie developed among the reverent group. After a communal breakfast, they saw one another only occasionally during the day. Meditation, at the Maharishi’s suggestion, should last for twelve-hour stretches, with short breaks, but once the Beatles got settled, the formula was markedly reversed, with twenty-minute segments of meditation aimed at breaking up the interplay. Instead, time was made for talking, reading, and lazing in the sun.

And of course music was never far from their minds. “The minute you clear it [your mind],” Paul said, “a thought comes in and says, ‘What are we gonna do about our next record?’” He suggested that, since the three songwriting Beatles were developing in such stylistically different directions, the next album should be called Umbrella — “an umbrella over the whole thing.”

It was at this point, according to Spitz, that George lost patience with Paul. “We’re not fucking here to do the next album,” he is reported to have said, “we’re here to meditate!”

But meanwhile John — who by all accounts became quite a serious meditator, spending many long hours in quiet repose — wrote a whole bunch of songs, including but not limited to “Julia,” “Bungalow Bill,” “Mean Mr. Mustard,” “Cry Baby Cry,” “Child of Nature,” “I’m So Tired,” and “Yer Blues.” And there was one more of particular note, which I think deserves a post of its own; so I will save that for next time.


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