- Published in 1967
- Author: Lennon/McCartney
- Track 10 on “Magical Mystery Tour“
JOHN 1968: “In ‘Baby You’re a Rich Man’ the point was, stop moaning. You’re a rich man and we’re all rich men, heh, heh, baby!”
JOHN 1980: “That’s a combination of two seperate pieces, Paul’s and mine, put together and forced into one song. One-half was all mine. (sings) ‘How does it feel to be one of the beautiful people/ Now that you know who you are…’ Then Paul comes in with, (sings) ‘Baby you’re a rich man,’ which was a lick he had around.”
About “Baby You’re A Rich Man”
As the B-side to “All You Need Is Love” single, “Baby You’re A Rich Man” was released in July 1967. Paul McCartney added a chorus to John Lennon’s unfinished song, “One of the Beautiful People”. The song is probably the best-known pop song to use a clavioline, a monophonic keyboard instrument that foreshadowed the synthesizer. An Indian shehnai-like sound was created by Lennon playing the clavioline on its oboe setting. Unlike previous EMI recordings, this song was entirely recorded and mixed at Olympic Sound Studios in London.
“Baby You’re A Rich Man” was written after Lennon attended 14 Hour Technicolor Dream, an all-night festival held in London’s Alexandra Palace that emerged as a critical event in the counterculture movement. In combination with the chorus, his lyrics address the “beautiful people” of the 1960s hippie movement and emphasize the universality of non-material wealth. Also, the lyrics can be interpreted as a message to the Beatles’ manager, Brian Epstein, or as a comment on fame. During the Summer of Love, George Harrison performed “Baby You’re A Rich Man” in San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury district in August 1967. Later, the track appeared on the Beatles’ Magical Mystery Tour album. The movie Yellow Submarine used parts of it in 1968.
On the Billboard Hot 100 chart, “Baby You’re A Rich Man” peaked at number 34. Billboard described the song as “an Eastern-flavored rocker with an infectious beat and intricate lyrics”, while Pitchfork described it as “a second-rate take on John Lennon’s money-isn’t-everything theme.” Rolling Stone ranked “Baby, You’re a Rich Man” 68th on its list of the “100 Greatest Beatles Songs.” It has been covered by the Fat Boys, Kula Shaker, and others. The Beatles recording was featured at the end of the 2010 film The Social Network.
Meaning of “Baby You’re A Rich Man”
The lyrics of “Baby You’re a Rich Man” have been subject to various interpretations. The song features a repeated refrain of the title, suggesting a sense of affirmation or reassurance to an unidentified “baby.” The lyrics also touch on themes of materialism and societal expectations, with lines like “How does it feel to be one of the beautiful people?“
Some interpretations suggest that the song may be a commentary on the superficiality and emptiness often associated with material wealth and fame. The title phrase, “Baby You’re a Rich Man,” could be seen as both a statement and a question, inviting reflection on the nature of true wealth and happiness.
“Baby You’re a Rich Man” is considered one of The Beatles’ more enigmatic and thought-provoking songs, leaving room for multiple interpretations and reflecting the band’s willingness to explore diverse musical and lyrical themes.
- John Lennon – double-tracked lead vocal, piano, clavioline.
- Paul McCartney – backing vocals, bass, piano.
- George Harrison – backing vocals, rhythm guitar, lead guitar, handclaps.
- Ringo Starr – drums, tambourine, maracas, handclaps.
How to play “Baby You’re A Rich Man” on piano
In “Baby You’re a Rich Man”, the piano plays a prominent role in shaping the song’s distinctive sound. The chord progressions in this song are notable for their unconventional and somewhat psychedelic qualities, which were characteristic of the Beatles’ experimental phase. The piano often interacts with the vocal lines, creating an intricate interplay between the two. This adds depth and complexity to the song’s overall sound. The timbre of the piano in “Baby You’re a Rich Man” is distinct. It has a bright, percussive quality that complements the song’s energetic and upbeat atmosphere.
The piano part, like much of the instrumentation in the song, reflects the band’s foray into psychedelia during this period. It incorporates unconventional chord voicings and progressions that contribute to the song’s distinctive sound. The Beatles were known for their willingness to push the boundaries of conventional music, and this is evident in the piano part of “Baby You’re a Rich Man.” It employs various techniques that were less common in mainstream pop music at the time.
The piano in “Baby You’re a Rich Man” is a vital component of the song’s unique sound, contributing to its experimental and psychedelic character. It’s worth listening to the track to fully appreciate the interplay between the piano, vocals, and other instruments in this Beatles classic.
The following video features a piano cover with score of “Baby You’re a Rich Man”:
How to play “Baby You’re A Rich Man” on bass
The bassline for “Baby You’re A Rich Man” was played by Paul McCartney and is more than just a rhythmic foundation; it incorporates melodic elements that complement the song’s overall musical texture.
McCartney’s basslines frequently features syncopation and rhythmic variation, and this song is a great example of that. He often played off the beat, creating a lively and dynamic feel. He was also known for using a pick when playing bass, which can result in a punchier and more defined sound compared to using fingers. The bassline in “Baby You’re a Rich Man” interacts with the other instruments in the song in a way that contributes to the overall psychedelic and experimental atmosphere of the track.
The following video features a bass cover of “Baby You’re A Rich Man” with tab:
“Baby You’re A Rich Man” karaoke
For those who want to sing “Baby You’re A Rich Man”, the following video presents the karaoke version of the song: