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Difference between revisions of "Happiness Is a Warm Gun"

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{{Infobox Song
{{Infobox Song
| Name          = Dear Prudence
| Name          = Happiness is a Warm Gun
| Artist        = [[The Beatles]]
| Artist        = [[The Beatles]]
| Album          = [[The Beatles (album)|The Beatles]]
| Album          = [[The Beatles (album)|The Beatles]]

Revision as of 14:49, 17 March 2016

"Happiness is a Warm Gun"
Song by The Beatles
Album The Beatles
Released 22 November 1968
Recorded 23-25 September 1968
Genre Rock
Length 2:43
Label Apple Records
Writer Lennon/McCartney
Producer George Martin
The Beatles track listing

Side one

  1. "Back in the U.S.S.R."
  2. "Dear Prudence"
  3. "Glass Onion"
  4. "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da"
  5. "Wild Honey Pie"
  6. "The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill"
  7. "While My Guitar Gently Weeps"
  8. "Happiness Is a Warm Gun"

Side two

  1. "Martha My Dear"
  2. "I'm So Tired"
  3. "Blackbird"
  4. "Piggies"
  5. "Rocky Raccoon"
  6. "Don't Pass Me By"
  7. "Why Don't We Do It in the Road?"
  8. "I Will"
  9. "Julia"

Side three

  1. "Birthday"
  2. "Yer Blues"
  3. "Mother Nature's Son"
  4. "Everybody's Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey"
  5. "Sexy Sadie"
  6. "Helter Skelter"
  7. "Long, Long, Long"

Side four

  1. "Revolution 1"
  2. "Honey Pie"
  3. "Savoy Truffle"
  4. "Cry Baby Cry"
  5. "Revolution 9"
  6. "Good Night"


No, it's not about heroin. A gun magazine was sitting there with a smoking gun on the cover and an article that I never read inside called "Happiness Is a Warm Gun." I took it right from there. I took it as the terrible idea of just having shot some animal.

—John Lennon, Playboy interview, 1980

I thought, "What a fantastic, insane thing to say." A warm gun means that you've just shot something. [...] It was put together from bits of about three different songs and just seemed to run the gamut of many types of rock music. [...] I consider it one of my best. It's a beautiful song, and I really like all the things that are happening in it.

—John Lennon, The Beatles: A Celebration by Geoffrey Giuliano, 1993

The idea of 'Happiness Is A Warm Gun' is from an advert in an American paper. It said, Happiness is a warm gun, and it was 'Get ready for the long hot summer with a rifle,' you know, 'Come and buy them now!' It was an advert in a gun magazine. And it was so sick, you know, the idea of 'Come and buy your killing weapons,' and 'Come and get it.' But it's just such a great line, 'Happiness Is A Warm Gun' that John sort of took that and used that as a chorus. And the rest of the words... I think they're great words, you know. It's a poem. And he finishes off, 'Happiness Is A Warm Gun, yes it is.' It's just good poetry.

—Paul McCartney, 1968

The first half, "She's not a girl who misses much," was just something I was writing vaguely connected with Yoko just after first meeting her and these were all different segments of songs that I wrote altogether and stuck them all in one piece. Just like a collage, instead of an album like Pepper. This was all done in one song and it went through all the different styles of rock 'n' roll and it was also about a gun and not about heroin or anything. In those days I had no idea about heroin. I'd never seen it or knew anybody that had touched it or taken it.

—John Lennon, The Beatles: Off the Record, Keith Badman, p.392, 2000

But tagged on to the original lines were random images picked up from a night of acid tripping with Derek Taylor, Neil Aspinall and Pete Shotten at a house Taylor was renting from Peter Asher in Newdigate near Dorking in Surrey. 'John said he had written half a song and wanted us to toss out phrases while Neil wrote them down,' says Taylor. 'First of all, he wanted to know how to describe a girl who was really smart and I remembered a phrase of my father's which was "she's not a girl who misses much." It sounds like faint praise, but on Merseyside, in those days, it was actually the best you could get.

'Then I told a story about a chap my wife Joan and I met in the Carrick Bay Hotel on the Isle of Man. It was late one night drinking in the bar and this local fellow who liked meeting holiday makers and rapping to them suddenly said to us, "I like wearing moleskin gloves you know. It gives me a little bit of an unusual sensation when I'm out with my girlfriend." He then said, "I don't want to go into details." So we didn't. But that provided the line, "She's well acquainted with the touch of the velvet hand." Then there was "like a lizard on a window pane." That, to me, was a symbol of very quick movement. Often, when we were living in LA, you'd look up and see tiny little lizards nipping up the window,' continues Taylor.

'The man in the crowd with the multi-coloured mirrors on his hobnail boots" was from something I'd seen in a newspaper about a Manchester City soccer fan who had been arrested by the police for having mirrors on the toe caps of his shooes so that he could look up girls' skirts. We thought this was an incredibly complicated and tortuous way of getting a cheap thrill and so that became "multi-coloured mirrors" and "hobnail boots" to fit the rhythm. A bit of poetic license.' adds Taylor. 'The bit about "lying with his eyes while his hands were working overtime" came from another thing I'd read where a man wearing a cloak had fake plastic hands, which he would rest on the counter of a shop while underneath the cloak he was busy lifting things and stuffing them in a bag around his waste.

'I don't know where the "soap impression of his wife" came from but the eating of something and then donating it "to the National Trust" came from a conversation we'd had about the horros of walking in public spaces on Merseyside, where you were always coming across the evidence of people having crapped behind bushes and in old air raid shelters. So to donate what you've eaten to the National Trust (a British organization with responsibilities for upkeeping countryside of great beauty) was what would now be known as "defecation on common land owned by the National Trust." When John put it all together, it created a series of layers of images. It was like a whole mess of colour,' Taylor concludes.

A Hard Day's Write, Steve Turner, 1994

They all said it was about drugs, but it was more about rock 'n roll than drugs. It's sort of a history of rock 'n roll ... I don't know why people said it was about the needle in heroin. I've only seen somebody do something with a needle once, and I don't like to see it at all.

—John Lennon, Hit Parader interview, 1972

"Happiness is a Warm Gun" went to a great many takes," says Chris Thomas. "We used to make jokes out of it. 'Take 83!'" Eighty-three takes it did not reach, but it did make 70 rhythm track recordings rather effortlessly, mostly because of the complicated tempo changes between 3/4 and 4/4 time.

The Beatles Recording Sessions, Mark Lewisohn, p. 157, 1988

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