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Rumor: Beatles 'White Album' demos might see the light of day

Photo by Keystone-France/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

Rumors are circulating that The Beatles' "White Album" demos might be in consideration for a proposed 50th anniversary box set of the "Fab Four's" self-titled double album.

The Beatles -- as it was officially titled -- was released on November 22nd, 1968 and featured material written by the group during their infamous stay in the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi's ashram in Rishikesh, India. Upon returning to England, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, and Ringo Starr regrouped at George Harrison's house in Esher -- probably on May 28th -- and laid down bare-bones four-track recordings of their latest music. In 1996, seven tracks from the "Esher" tape -- including four that had not made the rounds on the various bootleg releases -- were released on The Beatles Anthology 3 collection in pristine quality.

The Beatles fan website WogBlog posted some background on the historic home recordings: "The demo songs were mono mixed by Harrison, with copies given to each Beatle. The general public first heard them in the late 1980's as part of The Lost Lennon Tapes radio series, and 23 of the songs had entered general circulation by the early 1990's through bootlegs. Most of these came from John Lennon's own tape, as mixed in mono by George in 1968. Still, they were a generation further away from the source, as they were likely taken from John's cassette transfers of the tape. It is also believed that after a burglary, Ringo's tape copy was leaked in full, which accounts for the bootlegged songs not aired on The Lost Lennon Tapes radio series."

Filmmaker Paul Saltzman documented his time in Rishikesh studying transcendental meditation with the group in his photo book The Beatles In India, and told us that they were always friendly and approachable: "John looked up at me, and he was two feet away from me, and I said, 'May I join you?' and John said, 'Sure mate, pull up a chair.' And Paul said, 'Come and sit here' -- he pulled next to him and I sat down. At that moment John turns to me, 'cause they had finished their conversation, and he says, 'So, you're American then?,' in his sort of teasing way. And I said, 'No, Canadian,' and he turns to the group and says, 'Ah, he's from one of the colonies!' And everyone breaks up (in laughter)."

1968's 'White Album' material marked a creative rebirth for John Lennon -- and pointed the way towards his more brutal and soul searching solo works in the 1970's: "Looking back at it, whenever I comment about writing, I always (laughs) seem to be suffering, whether it was writing 'A Day In The Life.' or whatever. When I comment on every little thing it's like I'm suffering. I always seem to have an intense time writing, thinking 'this is the end' and 'nothing's coming' and 'this is dumb' and how can. . . and y'know, 'this is no good' and all that business.”

The Beatles' "Esher" demos - via wogew.blogspot.com:

"Cry Baby Cry" - with a different intro and ending from the album version
"Child Of Nature" - unreleased, but the melody later became "Jealous Guy" with new lyrics
"The Continuing Story Of Bungalow Bill" - the other Beatles make animal noises
"I'm So Tired" - with a slightly different spoken passage
"Yer Blues" - John Lennon is 'insecure' rather than 'suicidal'
"Everybody's Got Something To Hide Except Me And My Monkey" - far less frenetic than the studio version
"What's The New Mary Jane" - studio version included on Anthology 3
"Revolution 1" - lacks the 'you say you'll change the constitution' verse
"While My Guitar Gently Weeps" - with different lyrics in places
"Circles" - unreleased by The Beatles, later released by George Harrison
"Sour Milk Sea" - unreleased by The Beatles, later released by Jackie Lomax
"Not Guilty" - studio version included on Anthology 3
"Piggies" - rather than 'eat their bacon', the piggies 'cut their pork chops'
"Julia" - in a higher key and with the verses in a different order
"Blackbird" - with a double-tracked vocal, no break, a slightly slower tempo
"Rocky Raccoon" - shorter, without the opening and final verses
"Back In The U.S.S.R." - lacks the final verse
"Honey Pie" - released on Anthology 3, with the final verse edited out
"Mother Nature's Son" - without the guitar intro of the studio version
"Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da" - with a double-tracked vocal from Paul McCartney
"Junk" - included on Anthology 3
"Dear Prudence" - with a spoken ending and double-tracked vocals
"Sexy Sadie" - also with double-tracked vocals from John (and) Paul adds 'oh Sadie' several times near the end.
"Happiness Is A Warm Gun" - lacks the intro and the final section
"Mean Mr. Mustard" - his sister is called 'Shirley' -- not 'Pam'
"Polythene Pam" - slightly different chords; 'well it's a little absurd but she's a nice class of bird'; the verses are repeated
"Glass Onion" - with double-tracked gobbledygook from Lennon


Check it out: 10 Things You Might Not Know About The Beatles

10 Things You Might Not Know About The Beatles

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