The Beatles' White Album Turns 45
The 45th anniversary of The Beatles' 9th studio album, the White Album, is Friday, November 22nd, and Cindy Howes interviewed Mike Sauter about the album. Originally, it was harshly criticized for not being focused enough, but we know it now as an amazing album, and Mike is here to tell us everything we didn’t know.
The White Album was the first full-length album after Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. In May of 68, The Beatles did something that was a bit strange for them. Everyone gathered at George's house and recorded demos of the songs that would appear on the album. The demo version of the song "Revolution" was super noisy and gritty, but the album version was much more laid back. Mike played the demo for us to enjoy.
The very last song on the album is "Goodnight", which Ringo sang and John wrote. John wanted it to have a very lush, Hollywood feel, but originally there was going to be a spoken word intro. It was supposed to be like Ringo was telling kids to go to sleep. Eventually, the introduction was cut from the record, but you can hear a rough take courtesy of Mike Sauter.
One of George’s greatest contributions to the album was “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”, but it wasn’t just George that made this song awesome. George got Eric Clapton to play guitar for the song. Clapton, however, didn’t think the song was good enough, so he convinced the producers to run it through some equipment to make it sound more like a Beatles riff. Finally, Clapton was satisfied with it, but Clapton was great enough that it probably would have been fine anyway.
One of the most interesting things about The Beatles is that they would sometimes leave mistakes in the tracks they made. "Helter Skelter" is a song written by Paul, and he wanted to make a really raw, gnarly song. According to reports, the recording process of the song was out of control. Mike played the song with all the instrumentation, but then compared it to the song with only the voice. It’s something that many people probably missed, but Mike is clever enough to find all these hidden parts of songs.
At the time the record came out, there was a rumor that Paul was dead. After the song “I’m So Tired” and before “Blackbird”, you can hear John muttering a bit of French. When played in reverse, it sounds like he’s saying “Paul is a dead man, I miss him, I miss him, I miss him.” It’s actually pretty scary, according to Cindy. Have a listen here if you’ve never heard it before.
Listen to the whole piece for more Beatles easter eggs, and check out one of the Beatles workshops Mike Sauter hosts in the springtime!