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Author Topic: Song Of The Week - Happiness is a Warm Gun  (Read 1722 times)

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Kangaroo Kev

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Song Of The Week - Happiness is a Warm Gun
« on: April 14, 2013, 07:57:25 AM »

She's not a girl who
misses much
Do-do-do-do-do, oh yeah

She's well acquainted
With the touch of a velvet hand
Like a lizard on a window pane

Man in the crowd
With the multicoloured mirrors
On his hobnail boots

Lying with his eyes
While his hands are busy
Working overtime

The soap impression of his wife
Which he ate and donated
to the National Trust

I need a fix cause I'm going down
Down to the bits that I've left up town
I need a fix cause I'm going down

Mother Superior jumped the gun
Mother Superior jumped the gun
Mother Superior jumped the gun
(BIS)

Happiness is a warm gun
( bang bang shoot shoot )
Happiness is a warm gun, yes it is
(bang bang shoot shoot)

When I hold you in my arms (oh yes)
When I feel my finger on your trigger (oh yes)
I know nobody can do me no harm
Because
happiness is a warm gun, momma
Happiness is a warm gun
-Yes it is.
Happiness is a warm, yes it is...
Gun!
Well don't ya know that happiness is a warm gun, momma? (yeah)



The Beatles - Happiness Is A Warm Gun


I love this song, Johns voice sounds soooooo cool in the opening bars and it goes on to show what a great rock singer he was, Paul & George do excellent work on here as does Ringo, the backing vocals and harmonies are spot on and what an incredible and inventive song for any writer to come up with, absolutely astounding IMO.....This is The Beatles at theyre most creative and best.
The title came from an article in a gun magazine John Lennon saw. "Happiness Is A Warm Gun" was the slogan of the National Rifle Association. It struck Lennon as "fantastic, insane… a warm gun means you've just shot something."
The song begins in standard 4/4 time but quickly deviates from the norm. There is a 5-bar phrase rather than the usual 4, beginning with the line "She's well acquainted...". The last line of that verse ("A soap impression of his wife...") has a 6/4 bar (the second measure of the phrase) before going back to 4/4 for the last two bars of the phrase, and Ringo Starr plays the downbeat on "1" in the fourth bar, giving a more unusual feel. The subsequent guitar lead and bridge can be analysed as a 3-bar pattern of 9/8, 12/8, 12/8, with Ringo retaining an implied 6/8 throughout, so that the snare drum downbeats are on "1" as often as not. This gives way to a faster 4-bar pattern of 6/8, 6/4, 6/8, 7/4 for the "Mother Superior..." section before returning to a slower 4/4 for the doo-wop ending.
During the "When I hold you..." section, the rest of the band returns to 6/8, but Ringo stays in 4/4. (GET IT ??)
This is a rare example of polyrhythm in The Beatles' catalogue.

"Happiness Is a Warm Gun" is reportedly Paul McCartney's and George Harrison's favourite song on the White Album. I think George did a good job on the guitar solo pre-empting the 'I Need A Fix.." section with a similar flat moody melody.

Although tensions were high among the band during the album's recording sessions, they reportedly collaborated as a close unit to work out the song's challenging rhythmic and meter issues, and consequently considered it one of the few true "Beatles" songs on the album.

The song was not met warmly by American and British censors. It was banned by the BBC because of its sexual symbolism !!

Personnel

John Lennon – double-tracked vocal, backing vocals, guitar
Paul McCartney – bass guitar, backing vocals
George Harrison – fuzzed lead guitar, backing vocals
Ringo Starr – drums, tambourine



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Hello Goodbye

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Re: Song Of The Week - Happiness is a Warm Gun
« Reply #1 on: April 15, 2013, 02:38:20 AM »

Here's John's demo...


Happiness Is A Warm Gun (John's Demo) (The video's owner prevents external embedding)


I was disturbed by this song when I first listened to The White Album in 1968.  I immediately recognized heroin use references and what I thought were sexual references that I was a bit too young to fully understand.  I wasn't comfortable listening to the song then but today I regard it as an inventive musical piece created by John and I understand its meaning in retrospect now that John's personal history at that time is more fully known.
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Dcazz

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Re: Song Of The Week - Happiness is a Warm Gun
« Reply #2 on: April 15, 2013, 02:14:26 PM »

I think it's mostly a transition song as John had just left Cynthia and had taken up with Yoko. The "soap impression of his wife" lyrics are definatly his impressions of Cynthia. "donating his impression of her to the national trust" is a reference to a bowel movement, the National Trust being the toilet/sewer.
Is the man in the crowd Magic Alex whom Cynthia is said to have had an affair with after she came home and found Yoko in her house? I don't know.
The second half with Mother Superior seems to switch over to Yoko.
Add to that The magazine John was reading with the smoking gun and you have the perfect cryptic vehicle for a personal song from John.
One of my favorites!
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Klang

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Re: Song Of The Week - Happiness is a Warm Gun
« Reply #3 on: April 15, 2013, 03:25:35 PM »


 I always took the song's title to be a parodic reference to the Charles Schultz book 'Happiness Is A Warm Puppy' which was a huge seller in the 60s.

Great music, but after 'I Am The Walrus' I grew weary of the nonsense lyrics. 'IATW' covered that brilliantly, but I developed a nagging suspicion that John couldn't always be bothered with writing lyrics with literal meaning, passing this stuff off as lyrical poetry. I'm probably wrong, but that's what my gut tells me.

The words create vivid imagery, and maybe that was the intention. Still, for me, this made what could have been a great song into a moderately good one.

 :)
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Kangaroo Kev

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Re: Song Of The Week - Happiness is a Warm Gun
« Reply #4 on: April 15, 2013, 11:39:08 PM »

I always took the song's title to be a parodic reference to the Charles Schultz book 'Happiness Is A Warm Puppy' which was a huge seller in the 60s.

Great music, but after 'I Am The Walrus' I grew weary of the nonsense lyrics. 'IATW' covered that brilliantly, but I developed a nagging suspicion that John couldn't always be bothered with writing lyrics with literal meaning, passing this stuff off as lyrical poetry. I'm probably wrong, but that's what my gut tells me.

The words create vivid imagery, and maybe that was the intention. Still, for me, this made what could have been a great song into a moderately good one.


 :)


but surely Klang, him & Paul had written hundreds of songs with literal meaning, it was the time of a new conciousness (and mind bending drugs), him & Paul were still writing love songs (Julia & I Will) but your right about them wanting to create vivid imagery as well with songs like Helter Skelter & Cry Baby Cry, for me lyrically they were being incredibly inventive at this time.
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tkitna

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Re: Song Of The Week - Happiness is a Warm Gun
« Reply #5 on: April 16, 2013, 12:19:59 AM »

I've always loved this one. Cool song with different stages within it. Love Johns vocals, the harmonies, and pretty much everything about it. John really reached that note too.

Klang

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Re: Song Of The Week - Happiness is a Warm Gun
« Reply #6 on: April 16, 2013, 08:23:33 AM »

but surely Klang, him & Paul had written hundreds of songs with literal meaning, it was the time of a new conciousness (and mind bending drugs), him & Paul were still writing love songs (Julia & I Will) but your right about them wanting to create vivid imagery as well with songs like Helter Skelter & Cry Baby Cry, for me lyrically they were being incredibly inventive at this time.

Yes, that's right, and I felt exactly that way when these songs came out. I should probably abandon the idea that John was getting lazy lyrically. We all ate it up and he probably knew it. So, I guess it should be deemed one of their greats. Like I said, wonderful imagery.

 :)

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Kangaroo Kev

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Re: Song Of The Week - Happiness is a Warm Gun
« Reply #7 on: April 16, 2013, 08:56:25 AM »

Yes, that's right, and I felt exactly that way when these songs came out. I should probably abandon the idea that John was getting lazy lyrically. We all ate it up and he probably knew it. So, I guess it should be deemed one of their greats. Like I said, wonderful imagery.

 :)



what about the 'Do-do-do-do-do, oh yeah' line ?

not much imagery there  ha2ha
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Klang

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Re: Song Of The Week - Happiness is a Warm Gun
« Reply #8 on: April 16, 2013, 12:18:53 PM »


Depends on one's sense of imagination.

 :P

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Kevin

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Re: Song Of The Week - Happiness is a Warm Gun
« Reply #9 on: April 16, 2013, 06:56:36 PM »

I think it's mostly a transition song as John had just left Cynthia and had taken up with Yoko. The "soap impression of his wife" lyrics are definatly his impressions of Cynthia. "donating his impression of her to the national trust" is a reference to a bowel movement, the National Trust being the toilet/sewer.


Definitely. You sure about that? There is much interpretation about as to the meaning of this song. Everyone can't be right.
Like Klang I think Lennon was probably just playing around with imagery, and I'm reluctant to look for any deeper meaning.
Of course I like this song. I've always fancied it as the darker flip side to Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds. If the imagery of Lucy presents the drug use of the counter-culture as playful and liberating, by Happiness it has become much darker and sinister. Lucy sounds like fun. Happiness sounds frightening. Cold Turkey and primal scream are just around the corner.
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Kangaroo Kev

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Re: Song Of The Week - Happiness is a Warm Gun
« Reply #10 on: April 16, 2013, 10:59:24 PM »

Definitely. You sure about that? There is much interpretation about as to the meaning of this song. Everyone can't be right.
Like Klang I think Lennon was probably just playing around with imagery, and I'm reluctant to look for any deeper meaning.
Of course I like this song. I've always fancied it as the darker flip side to Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds. If the imagery of Lucy presents the drug use of the counter-culture as playful and liberating, by Happiness it has become much darker and sinister. Lucy sounds like fun. Happiness sounds frightening. Cold Turkey and primal scream are just around the corner.

Yes I agree, just like Walrus, it doesnt really mean anything, I agree though much darker than Lucy, but what about the later Across The Universe, didnt things get lighter again ?

Anyway, I have this theory, with The White album I always thought they became a ROCK band, this track along with Prudence, Helter Skelter, While My Guitar, Yer Blues, Why Dont We Do It...etc they wernt just a pop band anymore.

OR were they already a rock band with tracks like Im Down, Slow Down........maybe, I dont know  ???......HELP !!
« Last Edit: April 17, 2013, 04:59:08 AM by nimrod »
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tkitna

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Re: Song Of The Week - Happiness is a Warm Gun
« Reply #11 on: April 16, 2013, 11:31:24 PM »

I thought they quit being a pop band when Revolver was released.

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Re: Song Of The Week - Happiness is a Warm Gun
« Reply #12 on: April 17, 2013, 09:41:26 AM »

Here's John's demo...


Happiness Is A Warm Gun (John's Demo)



Thanks for the link. I don't remember hearing that before or seeing any film of the mad day out photo shoot. Is there any more film of this around?

As for the song I don't think it's nonsense but it can obviously be interpreted in different ways. Myself I think it's about his new-found sexual and artistic freedom with Yoko. He wasn't yet ready to state this literally but I find it more powerful done this way.
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Dcazz

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Re: Song Of The Week - Happiness is a Warm Gun
« Reply #13 on: April 17, 2013, 12:59:18 PM »

According to The Beatles, Abby Road Recording Sessions, John is quoted as saying it was three differnt songs he decided to combine as one. This could be giving us the impression of him writing a disjointed song about random stuff so I think in response to Kevin we just might all be right with this one!
It also states that this had been done before he brought it to the studio as take one was complete as is. Chris Thomas said it took 70 takes just to get the rythm tracks down on the first day because of the complicated time changes. 25 more tracks on the second day. Takes 53 (first half) and 65 (2nd half) were chosen best and edited together for the completed tracks.
The 3rd day was for overdubs such as "bang bang, shoot shoot. Piano, organ, bass, vocals and tuba which was edited out (almost). Im going to listen for that one next!
 An extra verse of "I need a fix was edited out but the cut was made leaving the word "down".
The origional title was Happiness is a Warm gun In Your Hand!
« Last Edit: April 17, 2013, 01:00:53 PM by Dcazz »
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Re: Song Of The Week - Happiness is a Warm Gun
« Reply #14 on: April 22, 2013, 02:56:19 PM »

Never been a big fan of this song but I really like its overall sound.
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Normandie

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Re: Song Of The Week - Happiness is a Warm Gun
« Reply #15 on: June 28, 2013, 10:17:52 PM »

I've always loved this one. Cool song with different stages within it. Love Johns vocals, the harmonies, and pretty much everything about it. John really reached that note too.

I'm gonna have to add a "me too" post -- a bit late!. tkitna, my opinion of this song is essentially the same as yours. This is one of my top Beatle favorites.
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Kangaroo Kev

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Re: Song Of The Week - Happiness is a Warm Gun
« Reply #16 on: June 29, 2013, 12:22:47 AM »

I thought they quit being a pop band when Revolver was released.

I thought with Revolver they became seriously good songwriters (ok maybe before that with RS) and they became a band that turned pop music into an art form and they adopted the 'physch' band approach ie weird lyrics, obscure meanings, trippy sounding guitars (She Said She Said) backward guitars (Im Only Sleeping).......the Pop band got serious.

With the White Album they produced more rock music, heavier drums, rock guitar passages (Helter Skelter, WMGGW, Yer Blues etc) no doubt influenced by people like Clapton & Hendrix and bands like Deep Purple, plus the fact that Rock music was becoming huge
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