100 Greatest Beatles Songs

From 'Helter Skelter' to 'Sgt. Pepper's,' ranking of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, George Harrison's output

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'Baby, You're a Rich Man'
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68. 'Baby, You're a Rich Man'

Writers: Lennon-McCartney
Recorded: May 11, 1967
Released: July 17, 1967
5 weeks; No. 34 (B side)

The title came from McCartney, but the spirit was pure Lennon. The working-class hero loved nothing better than tweaking the moneyed class: "The point was, stop moaning — you're a rich man, and we're all rich men, heh heh, baby!" he said. When Lennon sang, "How does it feel to be one of the beautiful people?" he was talking to himself.

The Beatles built the track around a thumping mix of piano, bass and hand claps; the braying sound is Lennon playing a clavioline keyboard, which imitated the swirl of a Middle Eastern woodwind. Mick Jagger was a guest at the session and may have contributed backing vocals (one of the tape boxes mysteriously reads "+ Mick Jagger?").

Lennon's deeply stoned delivery and abstract questions about "the beautiful people" captured the play­fully spaced-out mood of the summer of 1967 — a spirit the Beatles were more tapped into than anyone. "At the back of my mind," McCartney said that year, "there is something which tells me that everything is beautiful."

Appears On: Magical Mystery Tour

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