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- Posted on Oct 8th 2010 12:30PM by Rich Pagano
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From 1968's 'The Beatles' (The White Album)
The Beatles' 'Happiness Is A Warm Gun' kills me because it is a brilliant stringing of a few unfinished melody ideas fusing phases of rock 'n' roll up to that point in 1968 -- including doo-wop, psychedelia and hard rock -- with the inimitable John Lennon wordplay. Digging into the inspiration for the string of one-liners in the lyrics, one can see that they pack a mouthful of strange current events, magazine copy and overheard commentary strung together to create personalities of deviance, sensuality, double-entendres and the abstract.
After the recording sessions for the album were finished, Paul McCartney was quoted as saying that this track was his favorite. Lennon's voice is perfect in each section, from the subtle first verse to the punkish "When I hold you ..." The middle fuzz guitar riff is a sonic level that we try to emulate at my recording studio time after time.
The overall piece truly stands out due to the fact that it's a mini-rock suite disguised under a later-period-Beatles dry and punchy sound. I always loved the last "Well, don't you know that happiness ..." since it sounds like it channels a part of Lennon's voice used on 'Money' or 'Bad Boy.' The rest of the track's vocal is very later-period Lennon in style.
I had never heard anything like this song when i first discovered 'The Beatles' double LP, and being the drummer/singer in the Fab Faux, I try to slip it into our set lists as often as possible. It's a wonderfully strange color to put in between, say, 'Help' and 'Because.'
Rich Pagano is a New York musician known for his producing, recording or playing drums on tour with artists including Patti Smith, Rosanne Cash, Robbie Robertson, Ray Davies, Willie Nile, gospel icon Marie Knight, Joan Osborne, Levon Helm, Mott the Hoople legend Ian Hunter and the Beatles tribute group the Fab Faux. Rich will be performing at the John Lennon 30th Annual Tribute on Friday, Nov. 12th at the Beacon Theatre in New York. More information about the program can be found at lennontribute.org.