Happiness Is a Warm Gun
|"Happiness Is a Warm Gun"|
|Song by the Beatles from the album The Beatles|
|Released||22 November 1968|
|Recorded||24–25 September 1968,
EMI Studios, London
|Genre||Hard rock, blues rock|
|The Beatles track listing|
"Happiness Is a Warm Gun" is a song by the Beatles, featured on the eponymous double-disc album The Beatles, also known as The White Album. Although credited to Lennon–McCartney, it was written by John Lennon.
Writing and inspiration 
According to Lennon, the title came from the cover of a gun magazine that producer George Martin showed him: "I think he showed me a cover of a magazine that said 'Happiness Is a Warm Gun.' It was a gun magazine. I just thought it was a fantastic, insane thing to say. A warm gun means you just shot something." The reference, whether or not intermediately from the magazine, was one of many 1960s riffs on Charles M. Schulz's culturally popular saying, Happiness is a Warm Puppy, which began in the Peanuts comic strip and became a widely sold book.
Lennon said he "put together three sections of different songs...it seemed to run through all the different kinds of rock music.". The song begins with a brief lilting section ("She's not a girl who misses much..."). Drums, bass and distorted guitar enter as this portion of the song proceeds. The surreal imagery from this section is allegedly taken from an acid trip that Lennon and Derek Taylor experienced, with Taylor contributing the opening lines. After this, the song transitions into a song fragment called "I Need a Fix," built around an ominous-sounding guitar riff. This section drifts into the next section, a chorus of "Mother Superior jumped the gun." The final section is a doo-wop send up, with the back-up of vocals of "bang, bang, shoot shoot."
One of the most salient musical features of the song is its frequent shifts in time signature, some tempo changes, and some unusual phrasing. The song begins in standard 4/4 time but quickly deviates from the norm. There is a 5-bar phrase rather than the usual 4, beginning with the line "She's well acquainted...". The last line of that verse ("A soap impression of his wife...") has a 6/4 bar (the second measure of the phrase) before going back to 4/4 for the last two bars of the phrase, and Ringo Starr plays the downbeat on "1" in the fourth bar, giving a more unusual feel. The subsequent guitar lead and bridge can be analysed as a 3-bar pattern of 9/8, 12/8, 12/8, with Ringo retaining an implied 6/8 throughout, so that the snare drum downbeats are on "1" as often as not. This gives way to a faster 4-bar pattern of 6/8, 6/4, 6/8, 7/4 for the "Mother Superior..." section before returning to a slower 4/4 for the doo-wop ending. During the "When I hold you..." section, the rest of the band returns to 6/8, but Ringo stays in 4/4. This is a rare example of polyrhythm in The Beatles' catalogue.[original research?]
In the studio 
"Happiness Is a Warm Gun" is reportedly Paul McCartney's and George Harrison's favourite song on the White Album. Although tensions were high among the band during the album's recording sessions, they reportedly collaborated as a close unit to work out the song's challenging rhythmic and meter issues, and consequently considered it one of the few true "Beatles" songs on the album.
- John Lennon – double-tracked vocal, backing vocals, guitar
- Paul McCartney – bass guitar, backing vocals
- George Harrison – fuzzed lead guitar, backing vocals
- Ringo Starr – drums, tambourine
Many different interpretations of the song have been offered down the years. It has been said that, in addition to the obvious reference mentioned above, the "Warm Gun" could also be due to Lennon's sexual desire for Yoko Ono and also to his well-documented problems with heroin at the time of the recording of the "White Album" (in this case, the gun being a loaded syringe, although Lennon claimed to have snorted, rather than injected, heroin during the time that he used the drug). In his 1980 interview Lennon admitted to the double meaning of guns and sexuality ("that was the beginning of my relationship with Yoko and I was very sexually oriented then") but denied the song had anything to do with drugs.
The song was not met warmly by American and British censors. It was banned by the BBC because of its sexual symbolism.
Cover versions 
- Tori Amos, on the album Strange Little Girls
- Phish, on the album Live Phish Volume 13
- U2, as a B-side of the single "Last Night on Earth"
- Joe Anderson with Salma Hayek, for the soundtrack of Across the Universe
- The Breeders, on the album Pod
- Marc Ribot, on the album Saints
- Hajime Chitose, on the album Kataritsugu Koto
- World Party, on the EP Thank You World
- Danger Mouse, used as a sample in The Grey Album
- The Dear Hunter are known to cover the song at live performances
- Sky Ferreira, on a Dr. Dre's song mash-up produced by Daniel Luttrell
- Sampled by Psychic TV for the track "Jump Thee Gun" from the album Jack the Tab/Tekno Acid Beat
- Marilyn Manson sung a portion of the song as an intro to The Dope Show and The Reflecting God on tour in 2009
- Alanis Morissette covers the song at live performances
- The Black Crowes have covered the song in live performances
- Dowlding, William J. (1989). Beatlesongs. Simon & Schuster Inc. ISBN 0-671-68229-6.
- Hertsgaard, Mark (1995). A Day in the Life: The Music and Artistry of The Beatles. New York: Delacorte Press. ISBN 0-385-31377-2.
- "Across the Universe soundtrack". IMDb. Retrieved 24 September 2009.
- Inglis, Ian (2000). The Beatles, Popular Music and Society: A Thousand Voices. Palgrave Macmillan Publishing.
- Marck, John T. (2009). "Happiness Is a Warm Gun". I Am The Beatles.
- Sheff, David (2000). All We Are Saying. St Martin's Griffin. ISBN 0-312-25464-4.
- Spizer, Bruce (2003). The Beatles on Apple Records. 498 Productions. ISBN 0-9662649-4-0.
- Wenner, Jann S (2000). Lennon Remembers (Full interview from Lennon's 1970 interview in Rolling Stone magazine). London: Verso. ISBN 1-85984-600-9.