Happiness Is a Warm Gun

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"Happiness Is a Warm Gun"
Happiness Is a Warm Gun sheet music cover.jpg
Cover of the song's sheet music
Song by the Beatles
from the album The Beatles
Released22 November 1968
Recorded23–26 September 1968,
EMI Studios, London
LabelApple Records
Producer(s)George Martin, Chris Thomas

"Happiness Is a Warm Gun" is a song by the Beatles, featured on the double album The Beatles (also known as The White Album), which was released on 22 November 1968. Although credited to Lennon–McCartney, it was written by John Lennon.[1]

Writing and inspiration[edit]

According to Lennon, the title came from a magazine cover 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."[2] The gun magazine derived the phrase from the bestselling book by Peanuts cartoonist Charles M. Schulz, Happiness is a Warm Puppy.[3]


Lennon said he "put together three sections of different songs ... it seemed to run through all the different kinds of rock music..."[2] and described it as a miniature "history of rock and roll."[4] This results in a three-part through-composed structure.[5] The song begins with surreal imagery allegedly taken from an acid trip that Lennon and Derek Taylor experienced, with Taylor contributing the opening lines.[6] The three sections of the song were described by Lennon as "the dirty old man...the junkie...and the gunman."[7]

In the studio[edit]

"Happiness Is a Warm Gun" reportedly is Paul McCartney's and was George Harrison's favourite song on the White Album.[8] 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 metre issues.[9] Recording of the song began at 7 pm in Studio Two at EMI Studios in London on 23 September 1968, continued over the following two nights, with daytime breaks, and was completed at 5 am on 26 September.[10] Piano, electronic organ and tuba parts in this recording are unattributed; the tuba was all but removed through mixing.[11] George Martin was on holiday while this song was recorded, and had left a note asking Chris Thomas to take over as producer.[12]


According to Ian MacDonald:[13]


Many different interpretations of the song have been offered. Some writers have suggested that the "warm gun" could refer to Lennon's sexual desire for Yoko Ono.[14] In his 1980 Playboy interview Lennon admitted to the double meaning of guns and sexuality but denied that the song had anything to do with drugs: "that was the beginning of my relationship with Yoko and I was very sexually oriented then."[15] American and British censors were unhappy with the song, and it was banned by the BBC.[16]

Cover versions[edit]


  1. ^ Spizer 2003, pp. 107-108.
  2. ^ a b Wenner 2000, pp. 114–115.
  3. ^ "100 Greatest Beatle Songs". Rolling Stone. September 19, 2011. Retrieved June 2, 2017.
  4. ^ Womack, Kenneth (2016). The Beatles Encyclopedia: Everything Fab Four. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO. p. 179. ISBN 1440844275.
  5. ^ Osborn, Brad (2011). "Understanding Through-Composition in Post-Rock, Math-Metal, and other Post-Millennial Rock Genres". Music Theory Online. 17 (3).
  6. ^ Hertsgaard 1995, p. 257.
  7. ^ Womack, Kenneth (2016). The Beatles Encyclopedia: Everything Fab Four. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO. p. 179. ISBN 1440844275.
  8. ^ Spizer 2003, p. 108.
  9. ^ Inglis 2000.
  10. ^ Lewisohn 1995, p. 300.
  11. ^ Lewisohn 1995, p. 300; Lewis & Spignesi 2004, p. 86.
  12. ^ Lewisohn 1995, pp. 298–301.
  13. ^ MacDonald 1998, p. 279.
  14. ^ Marck 2009.
  15. ^ Sheff 2000, p. 188.
  16. ^ Dowlding 1989, p. 230.
  17. ^ "Strange Little Girls - Tori Amos". AllMusic. Retrieved 7 September 2017.
  18. ^ "Live Phish, Vol. 13: 10/31/94, Glens Falls Civic Center, Glens Falls, NY - Phish". AllMusic. Retrieved 7 September 2017.
  19. ^ IMDb 2009.


External links[edit]