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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Harrison first began writing "Piggies" around the same time he penned the equally salty "Taxman" in 1966. The biting satire, which took aim at the bourgeoisie, was misinterpreted by some in the U.S., where "Piggies" was understood as derogatory slang for cops. Ironically, the phrase that helped drive Charles Manson to kill was conceived as a good-natured joke by Harrison's mother, Louise. "I was stuck for one line in the middle until my mother came up with the lyric, 'What they need is a damn good whacking,' which is a nice simple way of saying they need a good hiding," Harrison wrote in I, Me Mine. "It needed to rhyme with 'backing,' 'lacking,' and had absolutely nothing to do with American policemen or Californian shagnasties!"

Perhaps in recognition of the song's obvious allusion to George Orwell's barnyard allegory Animal Farm, Harrison included a nod to the author's other masterpiece, 1984, in an early draft: "Everywhere there's lots of piggies/playing piggy pranks/You can see them on their trotters/at their piggy banks/Paying piggy thanks/to thee Pig Brother." The memorable verse had vanished by the time Harrison demoed "Piggies" with his bandmates, but a reference to the pigs clutching their forks and knives "to cut their pork chops" (rather than "eat their bacon") remains. Fed up with being a junior partner in the Beatles, the so-called Quiet One clearly polished his new compositions to perfection before debuting them for Lennon and McCartney.

The structure is essentially all in place even in this primitive stage – including a solo filled in by Harrison with tuneful whistling. On record, the sour lyrics are made even bitter with Martin's starchy parlor room arrangement, but the playful acoustic guitar embroidery on the demo, skillfully overdubbed by Harrison, makes it much more palatable.

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