Happiness Is a Warm Gun
|"Happiness Is a Warm Gun"|
|Song by the Beatles|
|from the album The Beatles|
|Released||22 November 1968|
|Recorded||23–26 September 1968,
EMI Studios, London
"Happiness Is a Warm Gun" is a song by the Beatles, featured on the eponymous 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.
Writing and inspiration
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." The gun magazine derived the phrase from the bestselling book by Peanuts cartoonist Charles M. Schulz, Happiness is a Warm Puppy.
Lennon said he "put together three sections of different songs ... it seemed to run through all the different kinds of rock music." This results in a three-part through-composed structure. The song begins with surreal imagery allegedly taken from an acid trip that Lennon and Derek Taylor experienced, with Taylor contributing the opening lines.
In the studio
"Happiness Is a Warm Gun" reportedly is Paul McCartney's and was 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 metre issues. 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. Piano, electronic organ and tuba parts in this recording are unattributed; the tuba was all but removed through mixing. George Martin was on holiday while this song was recorded, and had left a note asking Chris Thomas to take over as producer.
- John Lennon – double-tracked lead & backing vocals, electric guitar
- Paul McCartney – bass, backing vocals
- George Harrison – fuzzed electric guitar, backing vocals
- Ringo Starr – drums, tambourine
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. 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." American and British censors were unhappy with the song, and it was banned by the BBC.
- 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
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