After three weeks in India, John Lennon found that he was having trouble sleeping. It was a strange time in his life. Though his wife Cynthia was in Rishikesh with him, he was increasingly aware that his marriage was nearing its end. Yoko was much on his mind — though they were not yet romantically involved, they were in regular postal contact, as previously mentioned.

And although he was eagerly pursuing enlightenment through meditation, John was also missing the bodily pleasures of his normal life, such as cigarettes and alcohol. (In truth both were accessible even at the ashram, especially if you were a Beatle and/or knew Mike Love, but you had to be pretty sneaky about it). So as any good Beatle would, he poured all his frustrations into a song — one of his best.

I’m so tired, I haven’t slept a wink
I’m so tired, my mind is on the blink
I wonder should I get up and fix myself a drink
No, no, no
I’m so tired, I don’t know what to do
I’m so tired, my mind is set on you
I wonder should I call you but I know what you would do
You’d say I’m putting you on
But it’s no joke, it’s doing me harm
You know I can’t sleep, I can’t stop my brain
You know it’s three weeks, I’m going insane
You know I’d give you everything I’ve got
For a little peace of mind
I’m so tired, I’m feeling so upset
Although I’m so tired, I’ll have another cigarette
And curse Sir Walter Raleigh
He was such a stupid get

The only version available on YouTube is this demo…

…which lacks the furious intensity of the White Album version, but probably gives you some idea of how it sounded in India when John first wrote it.

While we’re on the subject, let’s talk a little about the word “get.” This is the way people in northern England or Scotland say “git,” an insult meaning “bastard,” which according to Wiktionary is “more severe than twit but less severe than a true profanity like wanker or arsehole, and may often be used affectionately between friends.”

But the way John says it is not friendly; he is genuinely pissed at Sir Walter for introducing Britain to tobacco. If it’s any consolation, John,

Raleigh was beheaded in the Old Palace Yard at the Palace of Westminster on 29 October 1618. “Let us dispatch,” he said to his executioner. “At this hour my ague comes upon me. I would not have my enemies think I quaked from fear.” After he was allowed to see the axe that would be used to behead him, he mused: “This is a sharp Medicine, but it is a Physician for all diseases and miseries.” According to biographers, Raleigh’s last words (as he lay ready for the axe to fall) were: “Strike, man, strike!”

Thus endeth the history lesson for today.

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