The Beatles' Revelatory White Album Demos: A Complete Guide

We delve deep into the 1968 home recordings that planted the seeds for the band's classic self-titled double LP

"Cry Baby Cry"

Lennon was clearly enthusiastic about "Cry Baby Cry," pushing it to the top of the pile as the first song tackled at the Esher summit. He'd been working on it since the previous year, when Beatles' biographer Hunter Davies observed Lennon at the piano in Kenwood, his rural Surrey estate, toying with lyrics sparked by a rather sadistic advertising slogan: "Cry baby cry, make your mother buy." The song's genesis is markedly similar to that of the Sgt. Pepper track "Good Morning, Good Morning" – the title of which was also taken from a commercial – but the words Lennon fleshed out in India are far more surreal, drawing on a fairy-tale cast seemingly inspired by the children's nursery rhyme "Sing a Song of Sixpence," which includes the lines: "The king was in his counting house counting out his money/The queen was in the parlor eating bread and honey/The maid was in the garden hanging out the clothes." (He would reuse the opening when writing the Double Fantasy track "Cleanup Time" a decade later.)

After making some tentative demos at Kenwood, Lennon recorded the nearly finished song at Kinfauns, backing himself on acoustic guitar and double-tracking the vocals on the chorus. As it's early in the day, the rest of the band are still getting settled; their excited chatter can be heard in the background while Lennon strums the first verse, skipping the chorus that would eventually open the completed version. He repeats the final verse in 3/4 waltz time, a rhythmic flourish that failed to make the final cut.

Despite his initial hopes for the song, Lennon was apparently dissatisfied by the end result. "Cry Baby Cry" was ultimately relegated to the middle of the White Album's fourth side – hardly the most distinguished spot on the double disc. Just before his death in 1980, he referred to it as "a piece of rubbish."