February 11, 2009

See the muddy waters rise.

Thanks to Jason for pointing me to The Beatles Search Machine, after I tweeted about wanting a place to search Beatles lyrics, the way you can search Bob Dylan's lyrics at his official website. I wanted to know:
Is the only reference to "water" in the Beatles' lyrics "muddy water"? (Typical of the kind of thing I need to know to blog.)
Don't you think it's interesting that the word "water" appears only once in all those lyrics, and it's muddy water? The "he" of "Come Together" "got muddy water." (I'm not sure how well the "mojo filter" works to clarify said water.) Presumably, the reference is to the musician Muddy Waters, though surely he is not the "he" of the song. (It's Timothy Leary, right?)

The Beatles Search Machine also returned "Mother Nature's Son," but there, the word actually is "waters," so it does not undo the conclusion that the only "water" in a Beatles song is "muddy water." But the "waters" of "Mother Nature's Son" look sparkling clear:
Sit beside a mountain stream — see her waters rise
Listen to the pretty sound of music as she flies.
The usual things that are said about the difference between Paul and John can be said here. John's dark "shoot me" song has muddy water, and Paul's sweet happy song has us listening to the pretty music of a mountain stream. But I must add that "see her waters rise" today makes me think about global warming. Now, I hear that song and picture Paul, Mother Nature's son, in his field of grass, with his swaying daisies, and the mental picture is ruined by big old Al Gore lumbering up and harshing his mellow.

37 comments:

AllenS said...

Waters are rising here, because of the melting snow. That's a good thing.

SteveR said...

big old Al Gore lumbering up and harshing his mellow.

That's funny!

EDH said...

Water? What about Rain?

A song with a catchy drum intro and early psychedelia that I think has held up well over time. As John notes in the video, it's the (their?) first record with backwards music on it.

And I assume this has a lot of water in it.

Yellow matter custard, dripping from a dead dog’s eye.

Bissage said...

Your lyrics, vagina, are found in the following Beatles songs:

Sory. No lyrics matching "vagina" found.

This function was created October, 1998.

Ann Althouse said...

"Water? What about Rain?"

This is specifically about the word. I know there is other wetness. Which is why it's so interesting that there is no "water." They even have 1 fantasy under the sea songs. (Yellow Submarine and Octopus's Garden.) And Julia is the "oceanchild" with "seashell eyes" and "floating" hair.

Ann Althouse said...

"Yellow matter custard, dripping from a dead dog’s eye."

See this is my point about "muddy water." The only water is "muddy." Lennon stays away from clear water. When he needs something to drip it's "yellow matter custard."

Psychedelic George said...

Isn't "Come Together," among other things, about Chuck Berry somehow morphing into a freaky late-60s Lennon....?

Mojo filter refers to the Muddy Waters song "Go My Mojo Working."

Mojo is confidence/karma/sex appeal/black magic

Ann Althouse said...

Yes, but why a filter?

Psychedelic George said...

Because, Professor, as a white Englishman from a blue-collar background Mr. Lennon is filtering the authentic oppressed Southern American Negro cultural experience into his own native idiom and reinterpreting it for a new audience whom he hopes shall then inculcate the values of political liberation which Mr. Lennon and his wife, Ms. Ono, wish to communicate.

That's "Got My Mojo Working."

Song's about getting a sex charm from a Louisiana conjure woman so's Muddy can "command" women.

Watch all the white people at the Newport Blues Fest in 1960 enjoy the negro rhythms...

Ann Althouse said...

I love when George gets intellectual!

Ann Althouse said...

Even as I love Bissage's recently activated vagina.

AllenS said...

Hurry, someone check for breasts.

Psychedelic George said...

Brain off turn.

Joy feel.

As for "Mother Nature's Son," that's an attempt by Paul to write a hippie song.

Here's a piece by another band that's much better. It's also about being with the girl you love. You're down by the river. It's a warm sunny day, perfect for discovering the wonders of nature.

Sweet blossom, come on under the willow...

traditionalguy said...

This is a very watered down topic, since all people are 90+% water. (add spirit and stir to create soul). So pure water is too sterile, only muddy water has all of the dissolved souls flowing out to us from these Bloody Artists. The adulterated stew of collective soul sought by Leary's teachings (Also see, Karl Jung) flowed everywhere without traditional boundaries. This was the 1960's Risky Experiment. We are still trying to rescue our culture from that flood that mixed up the good with the evil, and set the goal of our culture as the enjoyment of freedom from personal responsibility. The good news is that people also became free to chose to be good and loving and go beyond old boundaries and accept people despite the traditions of racial, gender, and sexual boundaries.

Chip Ahoy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chip Ahoy said...

We're so sorry Uncle Albert
Bu e haven't done a bloody thing all day
We're so sorry Uncle Albert
But the kettle's on the boil
and we're so easily called away

Hands across the water
(Water)
Heads across the sky


Hands across the water
(Water)
Heads across the sky

Admiral Halsey notified me
He had to have a berth or he couldn't get to sea
had another look and I had a cup of tea and a buter pie

(Butter pie)
(The butter wouldn't melt so I put it in the pie)

Hands across the water
(Water)
Heads across the sky


Hands across the water
(Water)
Heads across the sky

Chip Ahoy said...

I give up on typos, work it out yourselves.

Chip Ahoy said...

It occurs to me that might be Paul McCartney and so wouldn't count for Beatles, but I'm not sure because I not actually a music historian.

Ann Althouse said...

Definitely post-Beatles. I actually love the album "Ram" and I used to play it every day in the 1975 or 1976 when I was exiled in Ypsilanti. "Admiral Halsey" is probably my least favorite song on it, though. I always played side 2 first, beginning with "Heart of the Country," a song that makes me feel happy just thinking it. You can then play side 1 and stop after the delightful "Dear Boy" and avoid "Admiral Halsey" altogether.

I guess you never knew, dear boy, what you have found,
I guess you never knew, dear boy,
That she was just the cutest thing around,
I guess you never knew what you have found,
Dear boy.

I guess you never knew, dear boy,
That love was there.
And maybe when you look to hard, dear boy,
You never do become aware,
I guess you never did become aware,
Dear boy.


I love Dear Boy. Just pick up the needle right there.

Meade said...

"pick up the needle right there"

But carefully or else you will have the Needle and the Damage Done and that would be different hippie music: "A lot of great art goes down the drain..."

Yeah... like water.

Psychedelic George said...

Every day she takes a morning bath.
She wets her hair,
Wraps a towel around her
As she's heading for the bedroom chair.
It's just another day.

Just another casually great song.

It's like a sequel to "She's Leaving Home."

Bissage said...

It occurs to me that might be Paul McCartney and so wouldn't count for Beatles, but I'm not sure because I not actually a music historian.

Being one of Chip’s greatest admirers, I felt compelled to prove him correct in the first instance, by resort to the noted Beatles authority, George Harrison, who established conclusively that the Beatles and Wings were, in fact, one and the same, as follows:

“Gandhi says create and preserve the image of your choice. The image of my choice is not Beatle George -- those who want that can go and see Wings. Why live in the past? Be here now.”

But then, of course, it occurred to me that “Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey” was a solo release, so I failed miserably, in several ways actually, and for this I felt a tremendous amount of personal shame.

I’m so sorry.

Meade said...

"I’m so sorry."

Yes, well, and I am so oh oh tired.
I haven't slept a wink.

Jeremy said...

It doesn't seem particularly interesting to me. There are other references to rivers, oceans, seas, etc. "Water" is a little generic. For a band that tells a lot of stories, it's more descriptive and evocative to be precise about what kind of water they are in/on/under.

I think it's more interesting the number of unusual words and phrases (thinking of Amazon's Statistically Improbable Phrases) that they incorporate into songs - mojo filter, walrus, elephanting gun, meter maid, "I buried Paul."

Palladian said...

Paul should have been executed for "Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey".

Palladian said...

"As for "Mother Nature's Son," that's an attempt by Paul to write a hippie song."

A thoroughly failed attempt if that was the goal!

Bissage said...

In sixth grade, we had music class once a week taught by a guy in his early thirties who could not have hated his job more. He told us that a “mojo filter” was what you called two matchsticks used to hold the last remains of a marijuana cigarette.

I am not making this up.

In retrospect, revealing the secret code of Beatles songs to a public grade school music class seems to reflect poor judgment.

That said, on the plus side, he could play “Linus and Lucy” on the piano.

P.S. He made me stand out in the hallway because I sang “Ta rah rah boom de ay, I’ll take your pants away, and if you stay there, I’ll take your underwear,” although I didn’t actually get past “pants away” before I got banished.

Guess maybe he might have heard it before and knew what was coming.

And yes, standing there, alone, in the hallway, all my tears like water flowed.

And I searched my very soul.

But alas, there was no lion . . . inside of me.

Palladian said...

The Beatles is so not hippie music. Well, maybe a couple of George's songs.

To me, the hippie music is Eros to the Beatles Thanatos. That's why the Beatles are so good.

Henry said...

"As for "Mother Nature's Son," that's an attempt by Paul to write a hippie song."

A thoroughly failed attempt if that was the goal!


But, but, what about the John Denver version?

bill said...

Ann Althouse said...
Yes, but why a filter?


To remove impurities.

commenter said...

Not a comment, a correction in thinking.
Wrong sense. not seeing, not hearing.

Ann, you really don't need marijuana to understand monism. George was full of it, but I never was.
You should visit special services at various Indian denominations. You begin to understand with the chanting.

As water so life:

"And the time will come when you see we're all one,
and life flows on within you and without you."

Observe the water by entering it.

statistics from 1999 about our culture which has never really come together yet:
One hundred forty-one million American adults (64%) are afraid in deep, open water. Perhaps that holds a clue. Water is more a feeling of suspension when fear disappears.

commenter said...

stroking, not smoking, my way out.

back to my hideaway beneath the waves

Palladian said...

The song "Once In A Lifetime" by the Talking Heads uses the word "water" 25 times.

The song contains 460 words in total. That means that the song is about 5.43% water.

blake said...

Oh, now, John's water wasn't always muddy. In fact, when you asked, I immediately thought of this song:


Ain't no people on the old dirt road
No more weather on the old dirt road
It's better than a mudslide mamma when the dry spell come, yeah
Oh oh oh old dirt road

Ain't no difference on the old dirt road
Tarred and feathered on the old dirt road
Trying to shovel smoke with a pitchfork in the wind, yeah yeah yeah

Breezing thru the deadwood on a hot summer day
I saw a human being lazybonin' out in the hay
I said uh, hey Mr. Human can ya rainmaker too?
He said I guess it's O.K. ya know the only thing we need is water
Cool, clear water, water

Ain't no people on the old dirt road
No more weather on the old dirt road
Better than a mudslide mamma when the morning comes, yeah
Oh oh oh oh old dirt road

Keep on keeping on
Keep on keeping on
So long, so long
Bye bye

Psychedelic George said...

I'm a cork on the ocean
Floating over the raging sea. I lost my way. Hey, hey, hey...

Surfin' is the only life—
the only way for me.
Now come on, pretty baby, and surf with me.

ron st.amant said...

There is however the sound of running water in one of the versions of Across the Universe...I can't remember however whether it was the single version or the album version.

Mr. Forward said...

"Muddy water in my shoes

Reeling and rocking to them lowdown blues

They live in ease and comfort down there

I do declare



Been away a year today

To wander and roam

I don't care it's muddy there

But this is my home



Got my toes turned Dixie way

'Round the delta let me lay

My heart cries out for muddy water."

Bessie Smith