Blue Jay Way

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"Blue Jay Way"
Song by the Beatles from the album Magical Mystery Tour
Released 27 November 1967 (US) (LP)
8 December 1967 (UK) (EP)
19 November 1976 (UK) (LP)
Recorded 6–7 September, 6 October 1967
Genre Psychedelic rock
Length 3:56
Label Parlophone, Capitol, EMI
Writer George Harrison
Producer George Martin
Magical Mystery Tour track listing

"Blue Jay Way" is a song written by George Harrison; it was first recorded and released by the Beatles on their Magical Mystery Tour album and EP in 1967.

Origins[edit]

The name of the song comes from a street located high in the Hollywood Hills West, Los Angeles overlooking Sunset Strip where George Harrison rented a house at Blue Jay Way during August 1967. The home affords panoramic views of Hollywood and much of the Los Angeles Basin. It is located on a hillside of narrow, winding roads, difficult to navigate on a foggy night — thus creating the backdrop for the opening lines of the song:

"There's a fog upon L.A., and my friends have lost their way."

According to Harrison: "Derek Taylor got held up. He rang to say he'd be late. I told him on the phone that the house was in Blue Jay Way. And he said he could find it OK ... he could always ask a cop. So I waited and waited. I felt really knackered with the flight, but I didn't want to go to sleep until he came. There was a fog and it got later and later. To keep myself awake, just as a joke to pass the time while I waited, I wrote a song about waiting for him in Blue Jay Way. There was a little Hammond organ in the corner of this house which I hadn't noticed until then ... so I messed around on it and the song came."[1]

Musical characteristics[edit]

The song oscillates between C major and C diminished with much use of pedal drone, phasing, backwards tapes and automatic double tracking creating a sense of dislocation.[2] An interesting feature is use of the Lydian mode through a sharp 4th note (F# in the major scale of C) in the lone cello (at 0.19 secs) then in the backing vocals on "don't be long" and in lead vocals on "I may be asleep.".[3] The lyrics "There's a fog upon LA" and "and my friends have lost their way" feature dissonant tritone intervals (root-flat3-flat 5). Everett considers the song related to the Indian ragas Kosalam and Multani.[4]

Recording[edit]

The song was recorded on 6 September 1967, with overdubs on 7 September and 6 October.[5] The vocals are put through a Leslie speaker. The record employs flanging, an audio delay technique, and the stereo and mono mixes differ noticeably. For the stereo version, a full-length copy of the song was played backwards and faded in at key points in the mix. This was not done for the mono or film versions. The television film, Magical Mystery Tour, included the mono mix; the 1990s remastered version used a new stereo mix, sounding closer to the mono mix. The music video for the Magical Mystery Tour film was shot at West Malling, Kent and Weybridge, Surrey on 3 November, the day filming was completed.[6]

At the end of the song, there is what might be perceived as a malfunction of the cello tape loop. It is in fact a cover-up of what had been planned to occur in the music video featured in the Magical Mystery Tour film; in the planned ending George was supposed to be hit by the Magical Mystery Tour bus. That ending was never filmed, and the revised repeated ending is shown instead. A session musician played the cello.

Personnel[edit]

Personnel per The Beatles Bible[7]

Cultural references[edit]

Cover versions[edit]

"Blue Jay Way" has been covered by:

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Beatles Interview Database 2006.
  2. ^ Ian Macdonald. Revolution in the Head. Chicago Review Press. Chicago 2007 p 270
  3. ^ Dominic Pedler. Songwriting Secrets of the Beatles. Omnibus Press. London 2003 p 268
  4. ^ Walter Everett. The Beatles as Musicians. Revolver Through the Anthology. Oxford Uni Press. NY 1999 ISBN 978-0-19-512941-0 p141
  5. ^ Lewisohn 1988, pp. 123, 128.
  6. ^ Lewisohn 1992, p. 270.
  7. ^ The Beatles Bible 2009.

References[edit]

External links[edit]