Octopus's Garden

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"Octopus's Garden"
Song by the Beatles from the album Abbey Road
Released 26 September 1969
Recorded 26 and 29 April, 17 – 18 July 1969
Genre Country rock[1]
Length 2:48
Label Apple
Writer Richard Starkey
Producer George Martin
Abbey Road track listing

"Octopus's Garden" is a song by the Beatles written by Ringo Starr (under his real name Richard Starkey) from their 1969 album Abbey Road. George Harrison, who assisted Starr with the song, commented: "'Octopus's Garden' is Ringo's song. It's only the second song Ringo has ever written, mind you, and it's lovely." He added that the song gets very deep into your consciousness "...because it's so peaceful. I suppose Ringo is writing cosmic songs these days without even realising it."[2] It was the last song released by the Beatles featuring Starr on lead vocals.

Conception[edit]

The idea for the song came about when Starr was on a boat belonging to comedian Peter Sellers in Sardinia in 1968. He ordered fish and chips for lunch, but instead of fish he got squid (it was the first time he'd eaten squid, and he said, "It was OK. A bit rubbery. Tasted like chicken.")[3] Then the boat's captain told Starr about how octopuses travel along the sea bed picking up stones and shiny objects with which to build gardens.[4] The Let It Be film included a scene in which Harrison is shown helping Starr work the song out on piano.

The song, which contains the lyrics "Oh what joy for every girl and boy/Knowing they're happy and they're safe,"[5] is sometimes thought of as being a song for children,[6] like "Yellow Submarine" or "All Together Now". It has also been performed by the Muppets several times in various episodes of their shows.[7]

Recording[edit]

The basic instrumental track was recorded 26 April 1969, with the Beatles lineup of two electric guitars (Harrison and Lennon, the latter using his fingerstyle technique as on "Julia", "Dear Prudence", etc.), bass guitar (McCartney) and drums (Starr). Starr also provided a temporary guide vocal. (Take 2 of the recording, featuring this guide vocal, Starr singing the first verse three times, is track 14 on disc 2 of Anthology 3.) In the absence of George Martin, the Beatles themselves were listed as producer, with Martin's apprentice Chris Thomas present in the control room to assist. Thirty-two takes were required before the Beatles were satisfied with the track.[8]

The backing vocals by McCartney and Harrison during the guitar solo were put through compressors and limiters to create a gurgling sound. Harrison added the sound of bubbles being blown into a glass of milk using a straw.[9][10]

Personnel[edit]

Re-release[edit]

The song was re-released in 2006 on the Beatles album Love, which contained remixes of classic Beatles songs.

Other versions[edit]

Jim Henson's Muppets made three video cover versions of the song, on Sesame Street, episode 19 in 1969, The Ed Sullivan Show in March 1970, and The Muppet Show episode 312 in 1978, which was performed by Robin the Frog, Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy.

In the PBS educational show Zoom, the cast from Season 5 did a version of the song.[citation needed]

Reparata and the Delrons released the song as a single in 1972 on Dart records, backed with "Your Life Is Gone". It used vocal effects and ocean-themed sound effects to mimic the style of their 1968 UK hit, "Captain of Your Ship". It was re-released in 1976, with the A- and B-sides reversed, and credited to Reparata (no Delrons).

Noel Gallagher of Oasis adds adapted lyrics from "Octopus's Garden" to the end of their song "Whatever" during some of his live performances. The phrase "I'd like to be under the sea" is in the refrain of one of Oasis' most popular b-sides, "Take Me Away". Also, the refrain from the chorus of "Octopus's Garden" can be heard about forty seconds from the end of The Masterplan, also by Oasis.

The song was covered and recorded by Canadian children's musician Raffi for the 1985 album One Light, One Sun.

The Punkles did a punk cover on their fourth album For Sale sung by their drummer Markey Starkey.

In 1999, Melissa Joan Hart did an electropop cover for her film Sabrina Down Under.

A mashup with Blondie's "Heart of Glass" circulated on the Internet in 2007, as Glass Octopus.

The comedy team at CollegeHumor created a parody tribute to the band entitled "Ringo Wants to Sing More". The video was posted on their website on 24 June 2009.

Leah Erbe performed the cover of "Octopus's Garden" on the Motion Picture Soundtrack for IMAX: Under The Sea. The soundtrack was released by New Line Records on 1 April 2010.

Starr wrote a children's book featuring the song's lyrics, illustrated by Ben Cort.[11] A CD is included with the book, including an introduction by Starr, a new version of the song, the lyrics spoken as prose, and an instrumental version of the song.

Popular culture[edit]

There is a cocktail named for the song,[12] which contains vermouth and gin.

In The Simpsons episode "Lisa the Vegetarian", Linda McCartney mentions that they like hanging out in Apu's "garden in the shade" when they are in Springfield, which is a lyric from the song.

In the 2009 romantic comedy film (500) Days of Summer Summer Finn (Zooey Deschanel) remarks that "Octopus's Garden" is the greatest ever Beatles song. Tom Hanson (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) tells Summer that no one loves Ringo Starr, to which Summer replies "That's what I love about him".

In the 2007 comedy film Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story, Ringo Starr (Jason Schwartzman) refers to his "song about an octopus", which is followed by a crude remark from John Lennon (Paul Rudd).[13]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.allmusic.com/song/octopuss-garden-mt0010100295
  2. ^ Marks, Marvin (23 August 2009). "Abbey Road: The Beatles In Their Own Words". Music by Day. Archived from the original on 18 September 2009. Retrieved 18 September 2009. 
  3. ^ Anthology book (2000, p. 312)
  4. ^ "Abbey Road". The Beatles Interview Database. Retrieved 25 September 2009. 
  5. ^ "The Beatles-"Octopus's Garden" Song Lyrics". Brianhartzog.com. Retrieved 21 August 2011. 
  6. ^ George Harrison,"Octopus's Garden". beatlesbible.com. 
  7. ^ Classic Sesame Street - Octopus's Garden on YouTube
  8. ^ Lewisohn, Mark (2004). The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions. London: Hamlyn. ISBN 0-681-03189-1. 
  9. ^ "DM Beatle's Site: Abbey Road (UK, 1969)". Webcitation.org. Retrieved 21 August 2011. 
  10. ^ "Only Some Northern Songs in Abbey Road". 
  11. ^ Video on YouTube
  12. ^ "Cocktail Recipes at Bar None : O". Barnonedrinks.com. Retrieved 21 August 2011. 
  13. ^ "Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story (2007) - Memorable quotes". The Internet Movie Database. 

External links[edit]