Roll up! Roll up for the Mystery Tour!
They've got everything you need
The Magical Mystery Tour is hoping to take you away...
Magical Mystery Tour is the Beatles' ninth album, originally released in 1967, shortly after Sgt Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band. The television movie special, Magical Mystery Tour, was shown on the BBC on Boxing Day the same year. The album was released in the United Kingdom on 8 December, 1967, as a double EP - extended play single. It consisted only of the six new songs that were featured in the film. In the United States it was released on 27 November, 1967 as a full LP. Side one was identical to the British EP - the six songs from the film - and on side two were five extra songs that weren't in the film. Later, on 19 November, 1976, the American version was released in the UK, and it is now the standard version of the album.
The Album Cover
The album picture is on a gold background with the song tracks listed in red lettering with 'Beatles' spelled out in yellow stars. Below are the Beatles on a starry background, dressed in furry white suits with animal masks. From left to right: Paul McCartney dressed as a hippopotamus1, George Harrison dressed as a rabbit and Ringo Starr dressed as a rooster. Below and in the middle is John Lennon dressed in a black walrus suit. Below that, in cartoonish multicoloured letters, are the words 'Magical Mystery Tour'.
Maybe you've been on a Magical Mystery Tour without even realising it.
Are you ready to go? Splendid!
'Magical Mystery Tour' - The album opens with one of the Beatles shouting in the background 'Roll up for the Magical Mystery Tour! Step right this way!' Paul wrote this song. The entire was based on an idea he had on a plane from Los Angeles, partly inspired by author Ken Kesey's road trip across America in a psychedelic bus. The song is fast, and most of the lyrics are just 'Roll up! Roll up for the Mystery Tour!' with spoken lyrics over that.
'Fool on the Hill' - Written by Paul, this was based on a bizarre experience he shared with a friend, Alistair Taylor, one morning when Paul was out with his dog, Martha, on Primrose Hill in North London. Paul was watching the sunrise, and he noticed a man there. Paul greeted the man briefly, then, just a few moments later, the man was gone. This confused Paul and Taylor because there was no nearby cover where the man could have gone, and it seemed as though the man had just disappeared into thin air.
So Paul wrote 'Fool on the Hill', based on this stranger. The song is about a man who is considered a fool by other people, and stands alone on a hill all day. This song was later covered in a jazz style by Sergio Mendes.
'Flying' - The first Beatles song with a writing credit for all four Beatles, as well as being their first instrumental song. However, it does feature chanting 'la la laa la la...' in the background. This song came about from the Beatles' jam sessions and was originally going to be titled 'Aerial Tour Instrumental' and was ten minutes long, but was then cut back considerably for the movie and album release.
'Blue Jay Way' - A slightly spooky song written by George. Blue Jay Way is a location in Los Angeles where George was staying while waiting for a friend, Derek Taylor, to arrive for dinner, though he was very late. The song opens with 'There's a fog upon LA/And my friends have lost their way.'
'Your Mother Should Know' - An early 1900s-style song written by Paul for his father, James McCartney. This was recorded over a four-day period: 22 and 23 August and later on 16 and 29 September. Brian Epstein was present during the 23 August recording, which was the last session he would ever attend, because he unfortunately died four days later of a drug overdose. 'Your Mother Should Know' was originally going to be played on the Our World telecast, but was later replaced in favour of 'All You Need is Love'.
'I Am the Walrus' - Written by John, this song is an amalgamation of ideas for a few other unfinished songs. 'I Am the Walrus' is the most surreal on the album, but one of the best. The lyrics are mostly nonsensical things that don't really make sense, which John intended, trying to confuse people looking for clues in his work, such as Paul's death clues.
At the end, there are a number of strange things going on, such as excerpts from Shakespeare's King Lear and Paul's voice saying 'Ohh, I'm cold' - A supposed death clue of Paul, of which there are many on this album.
'Hello Goodbye' - Another by Paul, though John intensely disliked it, saying it was 'three minutes of contradictions and meaningless juxtapositions'. John was later angered even more when his 'I Am the Walrus' was the B-side to 'Hello Goodbye' on a single.
'Strawberry Fields Forever' - A classic by John, inspired by a Salvation Army orphanage in Liverpool called Strawberry Field, though the subject of the song has nothing to do with that. This was recorded over seven different days from November to December of 1966. John then had several of the different takes mixed together to make the version heard on the album. Another death clue of Paul's is found in this song, when John can be heard saying something that sounds like 'I buried Paul'. He is in fact saying, for reasons best known to the Beatles, 'cranberry sauce'.
After John was shot in New York City in December of 1980, a large circular landmark reading 'Imagine' was embedded in the pavement in Central Park and was dedicated to his memory and was named 'Strawberry Fields'.
'Penny Lane' - Based on an actual place in Liverpool and its people and goings-on. Penny Lane still exists today and is a tourist attraction.
The street signs reading 'Penny Lane' were frequently being stolen, and are now firmly screwed in place to prevent further theft. The barbershop and fire-station mentioned in the song are still there, though the latter is now a pub. Nearby the 'shelter on the roundabout' is Sgt Pepper's Bistro.
'Baby, You're a Rich Man' - Like 'I Am the Walrus', this song came about from two unfinished songs. One is John's 'One of the Beautiful People' and Paul's idea for a song about a rich man, possibly based on the Beatles' manager, Brian Epstein.
'All You Need is Love' - This song opens with the Marseillaise, the French national anthem. 'All You Need is Love' was written for the telecast in 1967 called Our World that was aired in 26 different countries. The song was also in the Yellow Submarine movie and album, along with 'Baby, You’re a Rich Man'.