- Published on 1968
- Author: Lennon/McCartney
- Track 22 on “The Beatles – White Album“
JOHN 1980: “That was inspired by Maharishi. I wrote it when we had our bags packed and we’re leaving. It was the last piece I wrote before I left India. I just called him, ‘Sexy Sadie,’ instead of (sings) ‘Maharishi what have you done, you made a fool…’ I was just using the situation to write a song, rather calculatingly but also to express what I felt. I was leaving the Maharishi with a bad taste. You know, it seems that my partings are always not as nice as I’d like them to be.”
About “Sexy Sadie”
“Sexy Sadie” is a song from 1968 double album commonly known as the “White Album“. It was primarily written by John Lennon and credited to the songwriting partnership of Lennon–McCartney. The song’s title was initially “Maharishi”, but Lennon changed it after becoming disillusioned with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, their spiritual teacher in India.
During their stay in Rishikesh, India in early 1968, the Beatles studied Transcendental Meditation under Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. However, Lennon and some other members of the band became disillusioned with the Maharishi due to allegations of improper conduct. This led to Lennon penning “Sexy Sadie” as an expression of his disappointment and frustration.
The recording of “Sexy Sadie” took place during the sessions for the White Album. Musically, it features a relatively simple arrangement with Lennon on lead vocals and piano, Paul McCartney on bass, George Harrison on guitar, and Ringo Starr on drums. The song showcases Lennon’s ability to channel personal emotions into his music, creating a poignant piece with a distinctive melody and memorable lyrics.
“Sexy Sadie” remains a notable track in the Beatles’ catalog, not only for its musical quality but also for its candid expression of Lennon’s disillusionment with the Maharishi. It provides a glimpse into the band’s experiences in India and the complex dynamics surrounding their spiritual journey at that time.
Meaning of “Sexy Sadie”
The lyrics of the song express Lennon’s disappointment and anger towards the Maharishi for not living up to the spiritual ideals he purportedly taught. The lines “Sexy Sadie, what have you done? / You made a fool of everyone” reflect Lennon’s feeling of betrayal. The use of “Sexy Sadie” as a pseudonym for the Maharishi added a layer of irony, emphasizing the contrast between the spiritual leader’s supposed wisdom and his perceived hypocrisy.
The song can be seen as a form of catharsis for Lennon, a way of processing his feelings of disillusionment and expressing his disappointment in someone he had initially respected and trusted.
- John Lennon – lead and backing vocals, rhythm guitar
- Paul McCartney – backing vocals, piano, bass guitar, Hammond organ, guitar
- George Harrison – backing vocals, lead guitar, tambourine
- Ringo Starr – drums