Published on 1967
Track 6 on “Magical Mystery Tour”
What the Beatles said about “I Am the Walrus”
PAUL 1967: "Everyone keeps preaching that the best way is to be ‘open’ when writing for teenagers. Then when we do we get criticized. Surely the word ‘knickers’ can’t offend anyone. Shakespeare wrote words alot more naughtier than knickers!"
JOHN 1967: "We chose the word (knickers) because it is a lovely expressive word. It rolls off the tongue. It could ‘mean’ anything."
GEORGE 1967: "People don’t understand. In John’s song, ‘I Am The Walrus’ he says: ‘I am he as you are he as you are me.’ People look for all sorts of hidden meanings. It’s serious, but it’s also not serious. It’s true, but it’s also a joke."
JOHN 1968: "We write lyrics, and I write lyrics that you don’t realize what they mean till after. Especially some of the better songs or some of the more flowing ones, like ‘Walrus.’ The whole first verse was written without any knowledge. With ‘I Am the Walrus,’ I had ‘I am he as you are he as we are all together.’ I had just these two lines on the typewriter, and then about two weeks later I ran through and wrote another two lines and then, when I saw something, after about four lines, I just knocked the rest of it off. Then I had the whole verse or verse and a half and then sang it. I had this idea of doing a song that was a police siren, but it didn’t work in the end (sings like a siren) ‘I-am-he-as-you-are-he-as…’ You couldn’t really sing the police siren."
JOHN 1980: "The first line was written on one acid trip one weekend. The second line was written on the next acid trip the next weekend, and it was filled in after I met Yoko. Part of it was putting down Hare Krishna. All these people were going on about Hare Krishna, Allen Ginsberg in particular. The reference to ‘Element’ry penguin’ is the elementary, naive attitude of going around chanting, ‘Hare Krishna,’ or putting all your faith in any one idol. I was writing obscurely, a la Dylan, in those days. It’s from ‘The Walrus and the Carpenter.’ ‘Alice in Wonderland.’ To me, it was a beautiful poem. It never dawned on me that Lewis Carroll was commenting on the capitalist and social system. I never went into that bit about what he really meant, like people are doing with the Beatles’ work. Later, I went back and looked at it and realized that the walrus was the bad guy in the story and the carpenter was the good guy. I thought, Oh, shit, I picked the wrong guy. I should have said, ‘I am the carpenter.’ But that wouldn’t have been the same, would it? (singing) ‘I am the carpenter…’"