Rocky Raccoon

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"Rocky Raccoon"
Rocky Raccoon sheet music cover.jpg
Cover of the Maclen Music sheet music
(depicting George Harrison and Ringo Starr)
Song by the Beatles
from the album The Beatles
Released22 November 1968
Recorded15 August 1968
StudioEMI, London
GenreCountry,[1] ragtime[2]
Producer(s)George Martin

"Rocky Raccoon" is a song by the English rock band the Beatles from their 1968 double album The Beatles (also known as the "White Album"). It was primarily written by Paul McCartney, although credited to the Lennon–McCartney partnership. McCartney began writing the song in Rishikesh, India, where the Beatles were studying Transcendental Meditation in the early months of 1968. John Lennon and Scottish singer-songwriter Donovan, who joined the Beatles on their retreat, also made contributions to the song.[3] The Marvel Comics character Rocket Raccoon, created by Bill Mantlo and Keith Giffen, was inspired by the song's title and some of the lyrics.[4]


The song, a country 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".[5] 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.[6] According to Beatles historian Kenneth Womack, McCartney drew his inspiration for the song from Robert Service’s poem “The Shooting of Dan McGrew.” [7] The Old West-style honky-tonk piano was played by producer George Martin.[8] "Rocky Raccoon" is also 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.

Starr's snare drum flam after the line "He drew first and shot" (mimicking the sound of a gun) is an example of prosody.

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 mining 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 McCartney, saying: "Couldn't you guess? Would I have gone to all that trouble about Gideon's Bible and all that stuff?"[9]

Coinciding with the 50th anniversary of its release, Jacob Stolworthy of The Independent listed "Rocky Raccoon" at number 22 in his ranking of the White Album's 30 tracks. He called the song "proof of McCartney's songwriting versatility" and continued that the song is "bolstered by a vibrant honky-tonk piano from the group's long-time record producer George Martin."[10]

The Marvel Comics character Rocket Raccoon is inspired by the song.[4]


According to Ian MacDonald:[8]

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.[12]


  1. ^ Stephen Thomas Erlewine. "The Beatles [White Album] - The Beatles | Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 30 June 2014.
  2. ^ Riley 2009, p. 166.
  3. ^ Miles 1997, pp. 422, 423.
  4. ^ a b The Unlikely Journey of "Guardians of the Galaxy" Star Rocket Raccoon at Comic Book Resources; by Brian Cronin; published 21 February 2014; retrieved 19 March 2014
  5. ^ Beatles Interview Database 1968.
  6. ^ "Danny Thomas Interview - 13th Floor Elevators". Texas Psych. 29 January 2009. Retrieved 2 March 2011.
  7. ^ Womack 2014, p. 784.
  8. ^ a b MacDonald 2005, p. 308.
  9. ^ Sheff 2000, p. 189.
  10. ^ Stolworthy, Jacob (22 November 2018). "The Beatles' White Album tracks, ranked – from Blackbird to While My Guitar Gently Weeps". The Independent. Retrieved 27 March 2019.
  11. ^ Howlett, Kevin. Abbey Road (50th Anniversary Super Deluxe Version) (book). The Beatles Apple Records.
  12. ^ "Live Phish, Vol. 13: 10/31/94, Glens Falls Civic Center, Glens Falls, NY - Phish". AllMusic. Retrieved 7 September 2017.


External links[edit]