Rocky Raccoon

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"Rocky Raccoon"
Song by The Beatles from the album The Beatles
Released 22 November 1968
Recorded 15 August 1968
Genre Folk rock, country[1]
Length 3:33
Label Apple Records
Writer Lennon–McCartney
Producer George Martin
The Beatles track listing

"Rocky Raccoon" is a song by the Beatles from the double-disc album The Beatles (also known as The White Album). The song was primarily written by Paul McCartney, who was inspired while playing acoustic guitar with John Lennon and Donovan in India (where the Beatles had gone on a retreat).

Composition[edit]

The song, a folk rock ballad,[2] is titled from the character's name, which was originally "Rocky Sassoon", but McCartney changed it to "Rocky Raccoon" because he thought "it sounded more like a cowboy."[3] Former 13th Floor Elevators' drummer Danny Thomas claims the name "Rocky" was inspired by Roky Erickson, the American rock band's then vocalist and guitarist.[4] The Old West-style honky-tonk piano was played by producer George Martin.[5] The lyrics describe a conflict over a love triangle.

During take 8 of the song (featured on Anthology 3), Paul McCartney flubbed the line "stinking of gin", singing "sminking" instead. This caused him to laugh, exclaim "Sminking?!" and make up the remaining lines in the song. This take also has a noticeably different spoken-word introduction, with Rocky coming from "a little town in Minnesota", rather than the album version's somewhere in the black mountain hills of Dakota", and McCartney's faux-Western accent is more pronounced.

In Mojo magazine in October, 2008, McCartney acknowledged that the style of the song is a pastiche, saying, "I was basically spoofing the folksinger." Lennon attributed the song to Paul, saying "Couldn't you guess? Would I have gone to all that trouble about Gideon's Bible and all that stuff?"[6]

Personnel[edit]

Personnel per Ian MacDonald[5]

Cover versions[edit]

Richie Havens, Ramsey Lewis, Jack Johnson, Andrew Gold, James Blunt, Phish, Jimmy Buffett, Maureen McGovern and Andy Fairweather Low have recorded cover versions of this song. Folk/jazz artist Jessie Baylin covered the song on her 2009 concert tour. Steel Train have covered the song in the past. Phish covered the song as part of their 1994 Halloween musical costume, the Beatles' white album. Lena Horne (with Gábor Szabó) recorded a memorable version in 1969, which was subsequently re-released on several LP and CD compilations. Crowded House covered the song live as an intro to "Chocolate Cake". This performance was later released on their singles "Instinct" and "Everything Is Good for You". A bizarre allusion to the song was made by TISM on their 1990 album "Hot Dogma". The song, entitled "While My Catarrh Gently Weeps", tells the story of the Rocky Raccoon from the perspective of the victim of an unacknowledged plagiarist – "An imposter Rocky, diabolical, hell-sent, had pinched my spot, and with it fame and glory."

In 1976, comic-book creators Bill Mantlo and Keith Giffen used the lyrics of the song as the basis for the character of Rocket Raccoon.[7]

In 1978 Benny Goodman featured the song in his Carnegie Hall 40th Anniversary concert, with Vocals by Jack Sheldon. The concert was released by Decca/London as a Phase 4 stereo double album.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.allmusic.com/album/the-beatles-white-album-mw0000418113
  2. ^ King, Simon (30 July 2011). "Rocky sings on hidden truth". The Australian. 
  3. ^ Beatles Interview Database 1968.
  4. ^ "Danny Thomas Interview - 13th Floor Elevators". Texas Psych. 29 Jan 2009. Retrieved 2 March 2011. 
  5. ^ a b MacDonald 2005, p. 308.
  6. ^ Sheff 2000, p. 189.
  7. ^ The Unlikely Journey of "Guardians of the Galaxy" Star Rocket Raccoon at Comic Book Resources; by Brian Cronin; published February 21, 2014; retrieved March 19, 2014

References[edit]

External links[edit]