Blue Jay Way
|"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|
|Label||Parlophone, Capitol, EMI|
|Magical Mystery Tour track listing|
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."
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. 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.". 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.
The song was recorded on 6 September 1967, with overdubs on 7 September and 6 October. 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.
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.
- George Harrison – lead vocals, Hammond organ
- John Lennon – backing vocals, tambourine
- Paul McCartney – backing vocals, bass
- Ringo Starr – drums, backwards cymbal
- Session musician – cello
- Personnel per The Beatles Bible
- "Blue Jay Way" is referenced in Trevor Rabin's 1989 song, "Something to Hold on to" (featured on his album Can't Look Away), in which Rabin claims to be looking for someone in Blue Jay Way.
- Jonathan Kellerman references Harrison's experience in his 2006 novel Obsession.
- Rogers Centre, home of the Toronto Blue Jays, is located on "Blue Jays Way".
- Sara Brightman also referenced it in "I Loved You" song.
"Blue Jay Way" has been covered by:
- Colin Newman on his 1982 album Not To
- Borbetomagus on their 1990 album Buncha Hair That Long
- Dan Bern on his 1998 album Smartie Mine
- Rodney Graham on his 2000 album What Is Happy, Baby?
- Siouxsie and the Banshees on their 2003 live album Seven Year Itch
- Tracy Bonham on her 2006 EP In The City + In The Woods
- Dog Age on their 2006 album Reefy Seadragon
- The Secret Machines in the 2007 movie Across the Universe
- Beatles Interview Database 2006.
- Ian Macdonald. Revolution in the Head. Chicago Review Press. Chicago 2007 p 270
- Dominic Pedler. Songwriting Secrets of the Beatles. Omnibus Press. London 2003 p 268
- Walter Everett. The Beatles as Musicians. Revolver Through the Anthology. Oxford Uni Press. NY 1999 ISBN 978-0-19-512941-0 p141
- Lewisohn 1988, pp. 123, 128.
- Lewisohn 1992, p. 270.
- The Beatles Bible 2009.
- "Magical Mystery Tour". Beatles Interview Database. 2006. Retrieved 29 October 2006.
- "Blue Jay Way". The Beatles Bible. 2009. Retrieved 13 April 2009.
- Lewisohn, Mark (1988). The Beatles Recording Sessions. London: Hamlyn. ISBN 0-517-58182-5.
- Lewisohn, Mark (1992). The Complete Beatles Chronicle. London: Hamlyn. ISBN 0-600-61001-2.
- Alan W. Pollack's Notes on "Blue Jay Way"
- Blue Jay Way - Google Maps
- Blue Jay Way - The Los Angeles Rock and Roll Map
- The REAL Blue Jay Way