The White Album

Tall American bullet-headed Saxon mother's son
Bungalow Bill - John Lennon

6/2014  D. Vautier.

I first heard about the White Album soon after its release.  To me it's interest started out very slowly and only grew over a long period of time.  It didn’t seem to have the huge splashing popularity of other Beatle albums but it really got better for me anyway. So why was that?  What made this album so very different from the others except that it was a double and contained a staggering 30 original great songs.  Well for starters I think maybe the album was meant to offend just about everybody in the world or at least a whole lot of people in the world.  It was also so loaded up with monkeys, lions, elephants, raccoons, blackbirds, lizards, pigs and other symbolism so as to absolutely boggle the mind and overwhelm you with apparent mystical and abstract ideas.  And the Beatles were really good at that.



Of all Beatle music I was only uncomfortable with “The ballad of John and Yoko” (not on The White Album). This song happened to be constantly played by DJ’s around Portland in 1969 when I was still going to school just to totally irritate me.  The reference to Christ and crucifixion perhaps pricked at my spirituality a bit, even though it had a great melody.  I tended to take little offence to the whole “more popular then Jesus” uproar or anything else about those incredible guys.


But to many the White Album was like a dirty word, something that you had to ask for at the music stores where they hid it behind counters like a copy of Playboy.  It was pure musical pornography taken to the extreme.  It spoke to the best and the worst things in all of us.  Soon gossip got around that it contained really really bad stuff, pure filth, things that would excite and disturb the common folk, that the music overly glorified subjects dealing with revolution, sex and drugs.  In fact the DJ’s around Portland seemed to actually ban “Revolution” and “Happiness is a Warm Gun” from their airwaves, especially "Happiness."  They felt that such indecency could not be tolerated by the average ear so I was never able to hear many of these beautiful songs on the radio until years later.  Today I truly have to laugh at this crazy McCarthyism.

By 1974 a lot of the Beatle fear had receded but a girl who worked for me at Tektronix was a UCLA graduate.  She told me of the difficulty students had in playing White Album songs in campus dorms, especially the piggy song which was supposed to be not only cannibalistic but capitalistic.  And then the infamous USSR song, and there's always Me and My Monkey.  (Oh the pain! The pain!)  Also the UCLA faculty and security people were even confiscating White Albums.


As I have insisted, just about every song on the White Album contains something objectionable somewhere for somebody, even the most popular.  Revolution turns out to be anything but what it is supposed to be and I could easily suggest it is not in any way close to an anti war song.  It instead actually supports cooperation with government.



In 1976 I was driving my 5 year old daughter to school and they were playing something like Beatles A-to-Z on the radio and finally got the strength of will to play “Happiness is a Warm Gun” (for the first time ever I think on radio).  So here I am driving along while my daughter is asking me a lot of questions about warm guns, and mother superior and jumping the gun and shoot, shoot, and lizards and National Trusts.  I’m not sure I was able to handle it all that well.  But then that’s the complete beauty of White Album music and since only one of the songs made it to the top 20, they remain even more precious by their obscurity.

So if Abby Road had not been made then White Album has to be the greatest musical work of all time.  For now it’s only in second place.


Best Lines

Mother superior jumped the gun


Rocky Raccoon fell into his room only to find  Gideons bible.



So Captain Marvel zapped in right between the eyes


Everywhere there's lots of piggies living piggy lives


I got blisters on my fingers!


I have worked up a collage that represents many of the songs on this album.