on life, music etc beyond mainstream

2015 20 Aug

Octopus‘ Garden

von: Manafonistas Filed under: Blog | TB | Comments off


„A FRIENDLY SEA CAPTAIN, A SAILING BOAT, A FISHY sounding land: Octopus’s Garden was inspired by scenes almost as fairy-tale as the undersea grotto it describes. Temporarily quitting The Beatles in August 1968, Ringo Starr escaped to Sardinia, fleeing increasingly fraught band politics aboard Peter Sellers’ yacht. One day, he was served squid with his chips, his surprise earning a lecture from the captain on cephalopods. “They build gardens and they have a cave and they go round the seabed picking up shiny things…” recalled Starr. “With the ‘medication’, it was like, ‘Wow, God, wow!’ It was like the best thing I ever heard.”

These revelations inspired the drummer’s second solo songwriting mission after Don’t Pass Me By, George later helping anchor its C&W chords. Despite bright, splashy guitar and Paul’s breezy piano, a melancholy tide pulls at its frondy backing vocals. Bubbles made by Starr blowing through a straw poignantly echo The Beatles’ other novelty maritime song, Yellow Submarine. There they’d been in the same boat, all aboard, friends next-door. Here, however, togetherness is a wistful dream, a nursery-rhyme utopia: “Oh what joy/For every girl and boy/Knowing they’re happy and they’re safe.”

Yet amid the heaviness, Octopus’s Garden united The Beatles behind Ringo’s vision, its psychedelic whimsy and anti-authoritarian glee (“We would shout and swim about…”) a vestigial tentacle of simpler times. Unshadowed by bad-trip Blue Meanies (or semolina pilchards), Octopus’s Garden guards the band’s kids-and-grannies, variety-show gene. It’s entry-level Beatles, there for a Muppet Show performance with Miss Piggy as mermaid, or as a Sesame Street tool for counting to eight. In 2013, Starr finally made it into a children’s book. It gently embodies Derek Taylor’s sleevenotes to Beatles For Sale: “The kids of AD 2000 will draw from the music much the same sense of well-being and warmth as we do today.” Even from the depths, The Beatles were still picking up shiny things, offering them to every girl and boy.“


written by Victoria Segal for the long MOJO cover story on Abbey Road 50 (October edition) 


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