- Published in 1967
- Author: Lennon/McCartney
- Track 10 on “Magical Mystery Tour“
John Lennon’s quotes about “Baby You’re A Rich Man”
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.
- 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.