Baby, You're a Rich Man

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"Baby, You're a Rich Man"
US single picture sleeve
Single by The Beatles
A-side "All You Need Is Love"
Released 7 July 1967
Format 7"
Recorded 11 May 1967
Olympic Sound Studios
Genre Psychedelic pop,[1] psychedelic rock[2]
Length 3:03
Label
Writer(s) Lennon–McCartney
Producer(s) George Martin
The Beatles singles chronology
"Strawberry Fields Forever" / "Penny Lane"
(1967)
"All You Need Is Love" / "Baby, You're a Rich Man"
(1967)
"Hello, Goodbye"
(1967)

"Baby, You're a Rich Man" is a song written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, and recorded in 1967 by the Beatles. It was released on the B-side of the Beatles' 1967 single "All You Need Is Love".[3] New mixes of the song were made available on Magical Mystery Tour and Yellow Submarine Songtrack.

Background[edit]

"Baby, You're a Rich Man" was the result of combining two unfinished songs written by Lennon and McCartney, in a similar fashion to make "A Day in the Life", and "I've Got a Feeling".[4][5] The verses from "One of the Beautiful People" by John Lennon were combined with Paul McCartney's previously unaccompanied "Baby, you're a rich man …" chorus.

That's a combination of two separate pieces, Paul's and mine, put together and forced into one song. One half was all mine. [Sings] 'How does it feel to be one of the beautiful people, now that you know who you are, da da da da.' Then Paul comes in with [sings] 'Baby, you're a rich man,' which was a lick he had around.

—John Lennon, All We Are Saying, David Sheff[6]

It is thought that McCartney wrote the lyrics of his section of the song about the band's manager, Brian Epstein.[5] In response, Lennon jokingly sings "Baby, you're a rich fag Jew" at the end of the song, as Epstein was homosexual and Jewish. Walter Everett writes that the song "asks an unnamed Brian Epstein what it's like to be one of the 'beautiful people.'"[7] Another angle to the song is that the "Beautiful People" verses were meant as a "tip of the hat" to Epstein for finally dropping acid. The questions John raises in the verses, such as, "How often have you been there?" and "What did you see when you were there?" are roughly equivalent to Jimi Hendrix's "Are You Experienced?" Lennon claimed, however, that the meaning of the song was that everybody is a rich man, saying, "The point was stop moaning. You're a rich man and we're all rich men."[6]

"Baby, You're a Rich Man" was initially intended to be used in the Beatles upcoming movie, Yellow Submarine, but was rush-released as the B-side to "All You Need Is Love".[6]

Musical characteristics[edit]

The song opens in what appears to be the key of G in Mixolydian mode, a G chord moving to VII/I (Fadd9/G) on "now that you know who you are", all over a G pedal (sustained harmonic tone).[7][8] Soon, however, the song moves to the key of C major and becomes reminiscent of "Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)" with its use of non-Western sounding gamak melodies on the clavioline.[7] Pollack considers a notable feature in the refrain ("Baby you're a rich man") to be the bass move from C to G via a III (B).[9]

Recording[edit]

The song was mixed (in mono) on 11 May 1967 at Olympic Sound Studios. The music featured an unusual oboe-like sound which was created with a clavioline (an early forerunner of the synthesiser being a 3 octave monophonic keyboard)[3] and a spin-echo (feed back delay) effect which was used to fill from the end of one line of the verse to the start of the next.[10]

Personnel[edit]

Per Lewisohn [3] & MacDonald:[11]

*Mick Jagger was present at the recording and his name appears on a session tape box, possibly indicating that he provided backing vocals near the end of the song.[3][4][11]

Releases[edit]

Original releases[edit]

"Baby, You're a Rich Man" was released as the B-side of the single "All You Need Is Love" on 7 July 1967 in the United Kingdom and on 17 July 1967 in the United States. Later that year, against the Beatles' wishes, it was included on the US album Magical Mystery Tour[12] (made available in both mono and ‘mock stereo’).

Per its original intended use, the song featured in the 1968 film Yellow Submarine (but was not included on the original accompanying soundtrack album).[3]

Further releases[edit]

For a 1971 German release of the Magical Mystery Tour album, George Martin and recording engineer Geoff Emerick created the first true stereo mix of the song; unable to recreate the spin-echo effect that had been introduced at the mixing stage of the original recording, they simply omitted it.[10] The stereo mix fades out approximately eight seconds earlier than the mono version.

When standardising the Beatles' catalogue for world-wide Compact Disc release in 1987, the (1971 stereo) Magical Mystery Tour album was included with the otherwise British album line-up.[13]

"Baby, You're a Rich Man" was mixed in stereo for a second time for the 1999 DVD release of the Yellow Submarine film and the accompanying Yellow Submarine Songtrack album.[14]

In 2009, remastered stereo (per 1971) and mono (per 1967) Magical Mystery Tour album CDs were released.[15]

The song was used in the film The Social Network during the closing credits; however, it doesn't appear on the released soundtrack.

Charts[edit]

Chart (1967) Peak
position
U.S. Billboard Hot 100[16] 34
U.S. Cashbox[17] 60

Cover versions[edit]

  • The Fat Boys perform the song in the film Disorderlies. Their version of the song is also the first track on the Disorderlies soundtrack album.
  • Australian group Company of Strangers recorded a cover version of the song on their 1992 album Company of Strangers.
  • Umphrey's McGee played a cover version of the song, with Béla Fleck guesting on banjo, during a live concert in Boulder, Colorado on July 4, 2014.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Borack, p. 3.
  2. ^ DeRogatis, Jim. Turn on Your Mind: Four Decades of Great Psychedelic Rock. p. 48. 
  3. ^ a b c d e Lewisohn 1988, p. 111.
  4. ^ a b Miles 1997, pp. 370–371.
  5. ^ a b Turner, Steve. A Hard Day's Write. New York: MJF Books. 
  6. ^ a b c "Baby, You're a Rich Man". The Beatles Bible. 
  7. ^ a b c Everett, Walter (1999). The Beatles as Musicians: Revolver Through the Anthology, p.126. Oxford Uni Press, Oxford. ISBN 0-19-509553-7, ISBN 0-19-512941-5.
  8. ^ Pedler, Dominic (2003). The Songwriting Secrets of the Beatles, pp. 260–261. Omnibus Press. London.
  9. ^ Pollack, Alan. "Notes on Baby You're a Rich Man", RecMusicBeatles.com. Accessed 24 February 2012.
  10. ^ a b Russell 1982, p. 246.
  11. ^ a b MacDonald 2005, p. 257.
  12. ^ Lewisohn 1988, p. 131.
  13. ^ Magical Mystery Tour
  14. ^ "Yellow Submarine Songtrack". Norwegianwood.org. Archived from the original on 19 July 2011. Retrieved 20 August 2011. 
  15. ^ "REVIEW: The Beatles remastered 1967–70". Musicradar.com. Retrieved 20 August 2011. 
  16. ^ "The Beatles' 50 Biggest Billboard Hits". Billboard. Retrieved 28 February 2015. 
  17. ^ "Cashbox 8/19". Retrieved 28 February 2015. 

References[edit]

External links[edit]