Sunday, November 30, 2014

More Beatles White Album songs: Happiness is a Warm Gun and Martha

Happiness is a Warm Gun


Happiness is a Warm Gun

She's not a girl who misses much
Do do do do do do, oh, yeah

She's well acquainted
With the touch of the velvet hand
Like a lizard on a window pane
The man in the crowd with the
Multicolored mirrors on his hobnail boots

Lying with his eyes
While his hands are busy working overtime
A soap impression of his wife
Which he ate and donated to the National Trust

I need a fix cause I'm going down
Down to the bits that I left uptown
I need a fix cause I'm going down

Mother Superior jump the gun
Mother Superior jump the gun
Mother Superior jump the gun
Mother Superior jump the gun
Mother Superior jump the gun
Mother Superior jump the gun

Happiness is a warm gun
(Bang bang, shoot shoot)
Happiness is a warm gun mama
(Bang bang, shoot shoot)
When I hold you in my arms
(Oh yeah)
And I feel my finger on your trigger
(Ooo, oh yeah)
I know nobody can do me no harm
(Ooo, oh yeah)

Because happiness is a warm gun mama
(Bang bang, shoot shoot)
Happiness is a warm gun, yes it is
(Bang bang, shoot shoot)
Happiness is a warm, yes it is, gun
(Happiness, bang bang, shoot shoot)
Well, don't you know that happiness is a warm gun mama
(Happiness is a warm gun yeah)

Video clip:


Athough credited to Lennon - McCartney, it was written by John Lennon.

The creator of the Peanuts comic strip, Charles M Schilz, once wrote a book “Happiness is a Warm Puppy”. 

"I think he [George Martin] 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."

- John Lennon

"Happiness Is a Warm Gun" was McCartney’s and Harrison’s favourite song on the White Album.

As with many Lennon lyrics, Happiness is a Warm Gun can be interpreted on a number of levels: 
  • it is a song about drugs, Lennon was doing heroin at the time and the gun is a symbol of a hypodermic syringe (although he was snorting, not injecting); 
  • it is a song about his sexual desire for Yoko Ono, who is the Mother Superior referred to; 
  • it is a nonsense thing with phrases selected at random 

From the 1980 Playboy interview:

PLAYBOY: "'Happiness Is a Warm Gun.'"

LENNON: "No, it's not about heroin. A gun magazine was sitting there with a smoking gun on the cover and an article that I never read inside called 'Happiness Is a Warm Gun.' I took it right from there. I took it as the terrible idea of just having shot some animal."

PLAYBOY: "What about the sexual puns: 'When you feel my finger on your trigger'?"

LENNON: "Well, it was at the beginning of my relationship with Yoko and I was very sexually oriented then. When we weren't in the studio, we were in bed."

PLAYBOY: "What was the allusion to 'Mother Superior jumps the gun'?"

LENNON: "I call Yoko Mother or Madam just in an offhand way. The rest doesn't mean anything. It's just images of her."

The BBC banned the song for sexual suggestiveness.

According to Susan Kreutzer:

The lyrics were a typical Lennon hodgepodge of images most of which came from an acid laced get together with friends Derek Taylor, Pete Shotton, and longtime Beatles assistant Neil Aspinall.

John said he had half a song and wanted to throw out ideas while Neil wrote them down.  
They were looking for a phrase that described a very smart girl and Taylor remembered a phrase his father used to say, ‘She’s not a girl who misses much’.  
Then Taylor told a story of man he and his wife had met late one night at a bar at the Carrick Hotel, who said he liked to wear moleskin gloves when out with his girlfriend.

The line, ‘which he ate and donated to the national trust’ was the most curious. They remembered walking the public places of Merseyside and finding that people had defecated behind the bushes and at old air raid shelters hence, donating what they ate.

Martha My Dear

Video clip:


"Martha My Dear"

Martha my dear though I spend my days in conversation
Remember me Martha my love
Don't forget me Martha my dear

Hold your head up you silly girl look what you've done
When you find yourself in the thick of it
Help yourself to a bit of what is all around you
Silly girl

Take a good look around you
Take a good look you're bound to see
That you and me were meant to be for each other
Silly girl

Hold your hand out you silly girl see what you've done
When you find yourself in the thick of it
Help yourself to a bit of what is all around you
Silly girl

Martha my dear you have always been my inspiration
Be good to me Martha my love
Don't forget me Martha my dear


The name “Martha” comes from Paul McCartney’s Old English Sheepdog by that name.

"It's a communication of some sort of affection but in a slightly abstract way - 'You silly girl, look what you've done,' all that sort of stuff. These songs grow. Whereas it would appear to anybody else to be a song to a girl called Martha, it's actually a dog, and our relationship was platonic, believe me."

Paul McCartney
Many Years From Now, Barry Miles

McCartney said in A Hard Day’s Write that the song is about his “muse” – the voice in his head that tells him what words and music to write.

McCartney wrote the song (although credited to him and Lennon) and did all the work: double-tracked vocal, piano, bass, lead guitar, drums, handclaps, brass and string arrangement.

"When I taught myself piano I liked to see how far I could go, and this started life almost as a piece you'd learn as a piano lesson. It's quite hard for me to play, it's a two-handed thing, like a little set piece. In fact I remember one or two people being surprised that I'd played it because it's slightly above my level or competence really, but I wrote it as that, something a bit more complex for me to play. Then while I was blocking out words - you just mouth out sounds and some things come - I found the words 'Martha my dear'. "

Paul McCartney
Many Years From Now, Barry Miles

McCartney has commented that John Lennon was surprised at McCartney’s fondness for Martha:

"She was a dear pet of mine. I remember John being amazed to see me being so loving to an animal. He said, 'I've never seen you like that before.' I've since thought, you know, he wouldn't have. It's only when you're cuddling around with a dog that you're in that mode, and she was a very cuddly dog."

Paul McCartney
Many Years From Now, Barry Miles

One of Martha's offspring is featured on the cover of Paul's album Paul is Live:

Saturday, November 29, 2014

The Days of Summer

Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer
Those days of soda and pretzels and beer
Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer
Dust off the sun and moon and sing a song of cheer

- Nat King Cole

Summer will be here in a couple of days, at least it will be in the Southern hemisphere. If Spring is anything to go by, it will be a hot one. Some Summer trivia . . .

The phrase dog days refers to the sultry days of summer. In the Northern Hemisphere, the dog days of summer are most commonly experienced in the months of July and August, which typically observe the hottest summer temperatures. In the Southern Hemisphere, they typically occur in January and February, in the midst of the austral summer. 

The Romans referred to the dog days as diēs caniculārēs and associated the hot weather with the star Sirius. They considered Sirius to be the "Dog Star" because it is the brightest star in the constellation Canis Major (Large Dog). Sirius is also the brightest star in the night sky. The term "Dog Days" was used earlier by the Greeks. The Dog Days originally were the days when Sirius rose just before or at the same time as the sun. 

The Romans sacrificed a red dog in April to appease the rage of Sirius, believing that the star was the cause of the hot, sultry weather. Dog Days were popularly believed to be an evil time "the Sea boiled, the Wine turned sour, Dogs grew mad, and all other creatures became languid; causing to man, among other diseases, burning fevers, hysterics, and phrensies." according to Brady’s Clavis Calendaria, 1813

Mosquitoes, summer's pest, have been around for more than 30 million years.

Summers spent throwing a Frisbee back and forth owe their game to a pie maker.

Originally called Pluto Platter and Wham-O, they were additionally called Frisbees after the Wham-O founder Richard Knerr learned that college students were calling it that, the term "Frisbee" coming from the name of the Bridgeport Connecticut pie manufacturer the Frisbie Pie Company. That company had been formed in 1871 by William Frisbie. Schoolchildren, having discovered that the inverted pie trays were aerodynamically great for tossing and aiming threw the pie plates around and yelled "Frisbie" so they wouldn't get hit by the spinning tins. The game the children played made its way to nearby college campuses where college students took it up as well. The name was changed to Frisbee when used for the Wham-O to avoid copyright infringement.

Women’s Bathing Suits through the ages:

"Bikini girls" mosaic found by archaeological excavation of the ancient Roman villa near Piazza Armerina in Sicily

bathing 1
"Mermaids at Brighton" by William Heath (1795 - 1840), c. 1829.
Note that wagons transported the women into the water for maximum decency.

Bathing Suit 1858

In 1907, a scandal erupted when Australian swimmer, Annette Kellerman, the first woman to swim across the English Channel, was arrested in Boston for wearing a form-fitting, one-piece suit. Her form-fitting suit paved the way for a new kind of one-piece, and over the next couple decades, as swimming became an even more popular leisure-time activity, beach goers saw more arms, legs, and necks than ever before.

Seven female swimmers at the Tidal Basin in Washington, D.C., 1920

In 1915, Jantzen, a small knittery in Portland, broke new ground by making a “swimming suit” from wool and officially coining the term six years later. Not long after, the company introduced its “Red Diving Girl” logo that was just risqué enough for the time to embody a specific point of view from the Roaring 20s. The Red Diving Girl became an enormously popular image and turned Jantzen into a powerhouse by commercializing femininity at the water’s edge.

Jantzen’s diver was puritan in comparison to what French engineer Louis Réard first called the bikini in 1946. As the story goes, Réard chose the name because of recent atomic tests at Bikini Atoll in the Pacific Ocean. His idea was that this new suit would have the same explosive effect as splitting the atom did on its island namesake. 

Micheline Bernadini modeling Réard's bikini. It was so small it could fit into a small 2 by 2 inches (51 by 51 mm) box like the one she is holding. July 5, 1946

At first the effect was too explosive. It took some time to catch on but eventually the bikini was all over the beaches, and popular culture. By the 1960s, even Annette Funicello, onetime darling of the Mickey Mouse Club, wore a two piece swimsuit on the screen.

More recent developments include the thong:

(sorry to disappoint the male readers)

..and the burqini for modesty, particularly for followers of Islam and for health by protection from the sun:

but not all swimwear innovations have caught on:

The summer solstice occurs once a year in Australia in December when the Sun's track across the Australian sky reaches its highest point. It is the day that has the most daylight hours of any in the year. The summer solstice usually occurs on 21 December; the winter solstice is the day of the year that has the least daylight hours of any in the year and usually occurs on 21 June.

Neo Druids, New Agers and Neo Pagans like to celebrate the Summer Solstice at Stonehenge on 21 June each year.
A druid recites an incantation during the winter solstice at Stonehenge on Salisbury plain in southern England December 22, 2010.