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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"Yer Blues"

The Beatles' time in India afforded them the opportunity for some much-needed self-reflection, free from the distractions of daily life and the headaches of being international icons. Unfortunately for Lennon, the chance to ruminate on his past traumas and current troubles, both marital and professional, only served to intensify his spiritual malaise. "Although it was very beautiful and I was meditating about eight hours a day, I was writing the most miserable songs on Earth," he admitted several years later. "In 'Yer Blues,' when I wrote, 'I'm so lonely I want to die,' I'm not kidding. That's how I felt."

Distinct from the high-voltage electrified track found on the White Album, the Esher demo of "Yer Blues" is more of an undulating slow jam, sung by Lennon in an almost fey falsetto that underscores the sly parody absent on the final. "There was a self-consciousness about singing blues," he told Rolling Stone in 1970. "We were all listening to Sleepy John Estes and all that in art school, like everybody else. But to sing it was something else. I'm self-conscious about doing it." Backing himself on overdubbed acoustic guitar, Harrison joins by tossing off the odd blues lick, while McCartney and possibly Starr keep time on bongos and tambourines. On this early version he sings, "My mother was of the earth, my father was of the sky, but I am of the universe and that's the reason why." He would ultimately choose to swap the origin of his parents, but the most striking difference is that he feels "so insecure now, just like Dylan's 'Mr. Jones.'" By the time the song was recorded in August, the emotions had intensified to "suicidal."

A plaintive wail of inner pain, "Yer Blues" clearly resonated with Lennon. When he made his live debut as a solo performer at the Toronto Rock and Roll Revival festival in September 1969, it was the only original Beatles song he would sing.

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