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

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"Everybody's Got Something to Hide Except for Me and My Monkey"

The breathless "Come on, it's such a joy" refrain, known to be a favorite expression of the Maharishi, plus the simian referenced in the chorus – the Beatles often had to guard their food from moneys while in Rishikesh – have led many fans to assume that "Everybody's Got Something to Hide Except for Me and My Monkey" was a direct result of the India experience. Instead, it seems more likely that Lennon wrote it upon his return to England that spring, as his new love affair began to bloom. "It was about me and Yoko," Lennon said in 1980. "Everybody seemed to be paranoid except for us two, who were in the glow of love. Everything is clear and open when you're in love."

However, his longtime songwriting partner saw a more sinister edge to the track. The phrase "monkey on the back" was well known among musicians as slang for heroin addiction, and McCartney viewed Lennon's lyrics as a red flag that hinted at his frightening new dalliance with the opioid. "He was getting into harder drugs than we'd been into and so his songs were taking on more references to heroin," he told author Barry Miles in the authorized biography Many Years From Now. "Until that point we had made rather mild, rather oblique references to pot or LSD. Now John started to be talking about fixes [as he did in "Happiness Is a Warm Gun"] and monkeys and it was a harder terminology, which the rest of us weren't into. We were disappointed that he was getting into heroin because we didn't really see how we could help him. We just hoped it wouldn't go too far."

Whether detailing his growing reliance on heroin or Yoko (or likely both), the song was indicative of the growing estrangement between Lennon and McCartney – not that it could be heard on the demo, which is surprisingly ebullient. Vastly different from the White Album version, this early take features Lennon singing with a humorously detached drawl. The song is also shorn of its stinging electric guitar, and Harrison helps pick up the slack with some searing acoustic runs, while McCartney and Starr shake tambourines and maracas for all they're worth. Their carefree abandon sometimes careens into brief moments of cacophony, but otherwise it's a tight performance that winds down with Lennon panting, "Come on, come on, make it, make it, make it, make it" at his lecherous best.

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