- Published on 1969
- Author: Lennon/McCartney
- Track 12 on “Abbey Road”
What John Lennon said about “Polythene Pam”
JOHN 1980: “That was me, remembering a little event with a woman in Jersey, and a man who was England’s answer to Allen Ginsberg, who gave us our first exposure… I met him when we were on tour and he took me back to his apartment, and I had a girl and he had one he wanted me to meet. He said she dressed up in polythene, which she did. She didn’t wear jackboots, and kilts, I just sort of elaborated. Perverted sex in a polythene bag– Just looking for something to write about.”
Info about “Polythene Pam”
“Polythene Pam” is the fourth song of the album’s climactic side-two medley. The Beatles recorded the track in July 1969 as a continuous piece with “She Came In Through the Bathroom Window”, which follows it in the medley.
Lennon wrote “Polythene Pam” during the Beatles’ 1968 stay in India. While not formally recorded during the sessions for The Beatles (also known as “the White Album”), the song was recorded as a demo at George Harrison’s Kinfauns home before the sessions. The demo was later released on Anthology 3 and the 2018 super-deluxe edition of The Beatles. Lennon dismissed the song, along with “Mean Mr. Mustard“, in The Beatles Anthology as “a bit of crap I wrote in India”.
Polythene is the British variant of the word polyethylene, a plastic material. The name “Polythene Pam” came from the nickname of an early Beatles fan from the Cavern Club days, named Pat Hodgett (now Dawson), who would often eat polythene. She became known as “Polythene Pat”. She said in an interview, “I used to eat polythene all the time. I’d tie it in knots and then eat it. Sometimes I even used to burn it and then eat it when it got cold.”
On the album Abbey Road, the song is linked with the previous song “Mean Mr. Mustard” musically, as the two run together without pause. The two songs are also linked narratively, since “Mean Mr. Mustard” mentions that the title character Mustard has a sister named Pam. The line beginning “His sister Pam” in the song was originally “His sister Shirley”, but Lennon changed it to contribute to the continuity of the Abbey Road side two medley. The song “Her Majesty” was originally set between “Mean Mr. Mustard” and “Polythene Pam”. “Polythene Pam” then segues into the following song, “She Came In Through the Bathroom Window“
- John Lennon – lead vocal, twelve-string acoustic guitar
- Paul McCartney – backing vocal, bass guitar
- George Harrison – backing vocal, lead guitars
- Ringo Starr – drums
- uncredited – tambourine, maracas, cowbell, “whipcrack” percussion