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 Country, folk rock[1]
Length 3:33
Label Apple Records
Songwriter(s) Lennon–McCartney
Producer(s) George Martin

"Rocky Raccoon" is a song by the Beatles from the double 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).


The song, a folk rock ballad, 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".[2][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] and the song is notable as the last Beatles song to feature John Lennon's harmonica playing.

The lyrics describe a conflict over a love triangle, in which Rocky's girlfriend Lil Magill (known to the public as Nancy) leaves him for a man named Dan, who punches Rocky in the eye. Rocky vows revenge and takes a room at the saloon in the town where Dan and Nancy are staying. He bursts into Dan's room, armed with a gun, but Dan out-draws and shoots him. A drunken doctor attends to Rocky, the latter insisting that the wound is only a minor one. Stumbling back to his room, Rocky finds a Gideon Bible and takes it as a sign from God on his deathbed.

During take 8 of the song (featured on Anthology 3), McCartney flubbed the line "stinking of gin", singing "sminking" instead (presumably confusing the words "smelling" and "stinking"). 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-American accent is more pronounced.[citation needed]

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 per Ian MacDonald[5]

Cover versions[edit]

Richie Havens, Ramsey Lewis, Jack Johnson, Andrew Gold, James Blunt, Phish, Jimmy Buffett, Maureen McGovern, Kingston Wall, Charlie Parr, 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, released on Live Phish Volume 13.[7] 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."

The song's title and some of the lyrics were inspirations for the Marvel Comics character Rocket Raccoon, created by Bill Mantlo and Keith Giffen.[8]

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.

Jason Mraz covered "Rocky Raccoon" at least once in his early years as a singer/songwriter in San Diego.[9]

Professional wrestling writer and pundit Vince Russo created a humorous cover of the song on his podcast The Brand. The cover paid homage to wrestling journalist Dave Meltzer, whom Russo claimed looked a lot like cartoon character Mr. Magoo, and thus the name "Rocky Raccoon" was replaced with "Meltzer Magoo" in this version.


  1. ^ Stephen Thomas Erlewine. "The Beatles [White Album] - The Beatles | Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 2014-06-30. 
  2. ^ "Rocky Raccoon". The Beatles Bible. 16 March 2008. Retrieved 21 July 2017. 
  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. ^ "Live Phish, Vol. 13: 10/31/94, Glens Falls Civic Center, Glens Falls, NY - Phish". AllMusic. Retrieved 7 September 2017. 
  8. ^ 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
  9. ^ "Jason Mraz Live at Jason V's Living Room on 2000-05-06 : Free Download & Streaming : Internet Archive". Retrieved 2014-06-30. 


External links[edit]