- Published in 1967
- Author: Lennon/McCartney
- Track 2 on “Magical Mystery Tour“
- Track 10 on “The Beatles 1967-1970” (Blue Album)
JOHN 1980: “Now that’s Paul. Another good lyric. Shows he’s capable of writing complete songs.”
PAUL circa-1994: “‘Fool On The Hill’ was mine and I think I was writing about someone like the Maharishi. His detractors called him a fool. Because of his giggle he wasn’t taken too seriously… I was sitting at the piano at my father’s house in Liverpool hitting a D6 chord, and I made up ‘Fool On The Hill.’”
About “The Fool On The Hill”
“The Fool on the Hill” was written and sung by Paul McCartney and credited to the Lennon–McCartney partnership. In the Magical Mystery Tour television film, the song’s segment was shot separately and without the other Beatles’ knowledge. McCartney filmed the scene near Nice, France, accompanied by a professional cameraman.
In the song, the titular “fool” is portrayed as a solitary figure who is ununderstood by others, but who is actually wise. Paul McCartney describes in his authorised biography, Many Years from Now, how the concept came to him from Dutch designers the Fool, who were the Beatles’ favorite designers in 1967 and told him that their name came from a Tarot card with the same name. The Beatles’ meditation teacher, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, may be the inspiration for the song, according to McCartney.
In his book Yesterday, Alistair Taylor describes a mysterious incident involving a man who appeared inexplicably near him and McCartney on Primrose Hill and then disappeared after they discussed the existence of God. According to Taylor, McCartney wrote “The Fool on the Hill” after this incident.
In March 1967, McCartney sang the song to John Lennon during a session for “With a Little Help from My Friends“. McCartney had the melody, but the lyrics were incomplete until September. He was told by Lennon to write it down, but McCartney said he didn’t need to because he was sure he wouldn’t forget.
A cover version of the song by Sérgio Mendes & Brasil ’66 reached the top ten in the US in 1968. During the late 1970s, McCartney’s “The Fool on the Hill” was one of his most widely recorded ballads. In 1996, the Beatles released Anthology 2 which included an outtake and solo demo of the song.
Meaning of “The Fool On The Hill”
The song’s lyrics paint a vivid picture of an individual who is perceived as a “fool” by others because of his solitary, contemplative nature. This person is often found on a hill, gazing at the world below. The lyrics suggest that this person may have a deeper understanding of life and the world, which is not immediately apparent to those who see him as a fool.
“The Fool on the Hill” can be interpreted as a reflection on the value of individuality and the importance of seeing beyond surface appearances. It conveys a message of empathy and understanding for those who may not conform to societal norms, and suggests that they may possess a unique and valuable perspective.
The song is often seen as a poignant exploration of the complexities of human perception and the potential wisdom that can be found in unconventional or solitary individuals. It has become one of Paul McCartney’s most cherished compositions.
- Paul McCartney – vocals, piano, acoustic guitar, recorder, bass, penny whistle
- John Lennon – classical guitar, harmonica, Jew’s harp
- George Harrison – 12-string acoustic guitar, harmonica
- Ringo Starr – drums, maracas, finger cymbals
- Christopher Taylor, Richard Taylor, Jack Ellory – flutes