The Beatles
(White Album)
Story Behind the Album
    The Beatles, the album, otherwise known as "The White Album" is the  first double album released by the Beatles and it is jammed  with information.  This album along with Sgt. Pepper and Abbey Road received the most attention and had the most impact.  The white album was released in 1968, following the release of a great single, the best up until then, "Hey Jude / Revolution".  This year was full of turmoil as both Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. were assassinated, the hippie movement began to fall apart, and the Beatles began to go their separate ways musically for the first time and it definitely shows on the album.  Perhaps a key  reason for the quantity of songs is the experience the Beatles had before making this. Before  making this album the Beatles decided to experience transcendental meditation much deeper and took a holiday with the Maharishi in India.  There they gave up  drugs and meditated a lot, but while they weren't meditating they were  writing and this explains the surplus of songs. Many  people believe this album should have been cut down to a single album, I   however, love it the way it is.  There are a great amount of terrific songs and endless amounts of information.
      

The album is composed of many songs that are written without any collaberation from the others and it shows as John, Paul,and George's  writing is taken to the extreme. It is apparent and it has been said that with each song it was the writer and a backing group not the Beatles, and often they would have 3 studios going at the same time. Paul opens  the album with "Back in the USSR", one of his best and also covered a lot.  Paul also  contributes, on  disc one, otheer great songs like "Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da", "Rocky Raccoon" and "Blackbird".  The first two are silly  songs that take   Paul's love of telling a story with silly  characters to an extreme.  However both make for great songs, albeit silly ones, as is "Martha My Dear", also on the first disc.  "Blackbird" is one of  Paul's finest acoustic masterpieces.  The song uses only a guitar, Paul's voice,and at the end, a bird whistling.  It is also a  rather depressing song but a  great one by  Paul. Also contributed on disc  on by   Paul is the  very  bluesy and simple "Why Don't We Do It  In The Road" and "I Will" , an acoustic song  helped by  Donovan. On disc two Paul contributes  very varied songs.  He works with John with "Birthday", a very  well known song which features Yoko Ono and Lindda McCartney on vocals.  He then contributes varies songs like "Mother Nature's Son", "Helter Skelter" and "Honey Pie" on the second disc.  Each of these songs are in no way like  each other.  "Mother Nature's Son" is another acoustic masterpiec, a  beautiful, soft song about a child of nature (this is also a title of a song written by John at htis time,  however, he never uses it and instead writes "Jealous Guy" to this rhythm during his solo career).  "Helter Skelter is the  opposite of this  as it is very hard, fast and  mysterious.  "Honey Pie" is  Paul at his corniest It is  written in a vaudville sort of theme and it has a very unique yet, not very likeable sound.
   John's songs are both some of his best and  his worst. During this time he had already met and hooked up with Yoko and divorced  Cynthia.  The divorce led Paul to   write "Hey Jude" for John's  little boy, Julian who  was crushed due to the separation.  This song  has had many interpretations and is one of the Beatles longest due to the end chorus. Also of importance is that it was the first single released by Apple the Beatles newly established  publishing company.  John's contribution to that single was "Revolution", of which there were three.  This one, I feel is the best, as it utilizes distortion  and it's beat it hard to keep still too.  The lyrics are the same as the first one on the album  which has a  totally different tempo and structure.  This one is acoustic and much much slower, but the message is the same.  The third "Revolution" bears Yoko's influence and it is like the solo albums John and Yoko released during this time, the most notorious being, "Two Virgins", with the naked  picture on the front. "Revolution 9" has one loop that simply repeats the phrase "number nine" and there are all sorts of sound effects around it, it is not  pleasant to listen to.  The rest of his songs are among his best and on disc one his first  contribution is "Dear Prudence". This features  a new style of guitar  called travis picking, learned from Donovan. It has a very  gentle feel and is very soft and hypnotizing with the guitar riff.  It is about Mia Farrow's sister who would often  do nothing except meditate and John wrote this to share his feelings about wanting her to come  out and join the rest of the group.  Paul playes drums on this due to Ringo quitting the band. Ringo quit due  to   Paul's bossiness about the drums to "Back in the USSR".  Following "Dear Prudence"  is a scathing songs entitled "Glass Onion".  The song references a number of Beatles songs and pokes fun at the fans reading into them. John also contribues "Bungalow Bill", "Happiness is a Warm Gun", "I'm So Tired", and "Julia".  The last three are amongst his finer songs with "Happiness is a Warm  Gun" being the best.  This songs is actually three songs but they all  fit   together nicely, although incoherently.  This also has a great,  mellow feel to it. "I'm So Tired" really does make one feel as though  he was suffering from insomnia, and "Julia" is a beautiful ballad written for his deceased mother, although   it references Yoko, whose name translates to "Ocean Child"  which is used in the song.  Disc 2 has some of John's stranger songs on it. His first is "Yer Blues" , which is one of his  most  depressing and haunting  songs  yet.  "Everbody's  got something to hide except for me and my monkey" is his next song and it uses a messages taught by the  Maharishi, but many believe it is about heroin, which is was  taking at the time, as  "monkey" is  code for heroin.  "Sexy Sadie" is his  next song and it is a dig at the Maharishi who they  found to be a  phony. "Cry Baby Cry" is his next one (actually Revolution is) and it is a strange song, so strrange John denied writing it. Paul adds a bit on the end to it, but it is a fairly decent song.  "Goodnight"  is his last song and it is the last on the  record.  It is sung by Ringo, but it is the most tender of John's ballads. He wrote it for Julian, and he  wrote it to be  very soppy, but it works and it is a gorgeous song, especially following "Revolution 9". 

George contributes some of his finest songs to  date.  His best on the album is "While My Guitar Gently Weeps". Eric Clapton helped him work on this and it is indeed his finest song  yet.  He wrote it by chance as he wrote a song about whatever words he first saw when he opened a book, and he saw "genly weeps". His next song is "Piggies" which is a dig at the  working  class fans. On disc  two  George  contributes one of my favorites song of his "Long Long Long".  The listener can barely hear George sing, but he the song has a beautiful  melody, wrought with  emotion.  "Savoy Truffle" is also one of his better songs  contributed.  He wrote this for Clapton's sweet tooth, and the song is has a great beat, full of silly expressions but makes for a great listen. Ringo brings along his first  song on disc one  with "Don't  Pass Me By". This songs isn't   great  compared to the  other songs on the album but it is very Ringo in nature and it's a start.
  As stated the White Album had a great impact when released. Many were  blew away by it and others found it strange, yet some took a twisted turn with it. Charles Manson, among the most notorious  killers, took a twisted look at the album and  blames it for much of what he did. He pointed out that  songs like "Blackbird", "Piggies" and "Helter Skelter" contained messages that told him to do what he did.  He often had  references to this  in his  killings as he would spell   out something to these songs in the  blood of the victims.  This is one example of how crazy things were  and  were becoming in 1968. It was the year of political chaos and voilence and the  White Album captured it all.  The White album can  also be  viewed as an opposition to Sgt. Pepper as there a number of comparisons that can be made.  First of all is the plainness of the cover which is opposite the colorful, detail of Sgt. Pepper.  The material is more  straight rock rather than the illustrious music on Pepper.  The  cover design is full of  pictures and lyrics like Sgt. Pepper as well. Finally, the overall message of the songs are totally different. No longer are they embracing drug and love filled songs, but there are now  politcal, religious and pure nonsense songs on there. 
   The white album is a great piece of  work by the Beatles that blew many listeners away. It is just full of information  everywhere, in the songs, on the cover, in the  pullouts. This album definitely makes up for  what was lacking previously. However, it shows the Beatles that are now in turmoil, and retrospectively it can be seen as the roots for the breakup.
Track Listing
Disc One
1. Back in the USSR
2. Dear Prudence
3. Glass Onion
4. Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da
5. Wild Honey Pie
6. The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill
7. While My Guitar Gently Weeps [Harrison]
8. Happiness Is A Warm Gun
9. Martha My Dear
10. I'm So Tired
11. Blackbird
12. Piggies [Harrison]
13. Rocky Raccoon
14. Don't Pass Me By [Starkey]
15. Why Don't We Do It In The Road
16. I Will
17. Julia
Disc Two
1. Birthday
2. Yer Blues
3. Mother Nature's Son
4. Everybody's Got Something To Hide Except For Me And My Monkey
5. Sexy Sadie
6. Helter Skelter
7. Long Long Long [Harrison]
8. Revolution 1
9. Honey Pie
10. Savoy Truffle [Harrison]
11. Cry Baby Cry
12. Revolution 9
13. Goodnight
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