HOME      ARTIST      NEXT      PREVIOUS      CONTACT

6.01-MAGICAL MYSTERY TOUR (Beatles)

Beatles

LISTEN

[Intro spoken: Roll up, roll up for the magical mystery tour, step right this way!]

     Roll up, roll up for the mystery tour. (2x)

Roll up,
     that's an invitation!
Roll up for the mystery tour.
Roll up
     to make a reservation!
Roll up for the mystery tour.

          The magical mystery tour is waiting to take you away,
          Waiting to take you away.

     [Refrain]. (2x)

Roll up!
     Got everything you need.
Roll up for the mystery tour.
Roll up
     Satisfaction guaranteed.
Roll up for the mystery tour.

          The magical mystery tour is hoping to take you away,
          Hoping to take you away.

          A mystery trip.

[Break]

     The magical mystery tour.
     Roll up, roll up for the mystery tour.

[Repeat 1st verse]

          The magical mystery tour is coming to take you away,
          Coming to take you away.

          The magical mystery tour is dying to take you away,
          Dying to take you away,
          Take you today.

[Coda]


Magical Mystery Tour albumThe album Magical Mystery Tour contains both sides of the three Beatles’ psychedelic singles released in 1967, plus five new songs that were composed to accompany a Christmas television special. Though the album had only a few new songs, the immense popularity of the Beatles at that time quickly brought the album to top of the charts success in the U.S., and served to kick off the final glory days of classic psychedelic music during the 1967 Christmas season. The TV special did not fare as well, and was roundly rejected by critics of the time, the first and perhaps only instance of an artistic flop in the Beatles’ career.

It is reported in the online Beatles Bible that Paul McCartney began recording the song Magical Mystery Tour four days after completion of the album Sgt. Pepper in order to keep the momentum going. This time, instead of inviting the audience to a Salvation Army concert, McCartney was inviting us to ride on something like Ken Kesey's Further bus. A common expression in the U.K., "Roll up!", which means something like "Queue up!" or “Line up!”, is more often associated with rolling a joint of marijuana in the U.S. The song leans heavily on this pun. With the use of a barker, Magical Mystery Tour has something of the same spirit of On with the Show by the Rolling Stones, released around the same time to close their album Their Satanic Majesties Request. The voice of a barker proves to work equally well to open or to close an album.

The trick of the song Sgt. Pepper had been to seamlessly introduce the next "act"--Billy Shears. The song Magical Mystery Tour succeeds in melding a driving simple rock beat, something much like a commercial jingle, with an exotic Spanish inflected horn in the break. Returning from the break, the rock beat is slightly impeded. The last turn of the B section features a baroque horn section. I hear the sound of a bus driving past, and in the coda, a piano pursues a different melody into the distance, accompanied by the sound of sheep bells. Neil Young’s Broken Arrow had also ended in a similar orchestral coda that was melodically different from the rest of the song.

I find the complexity of the music in the song Magical Mystery Tour charming, but am alarmed by the simplicity and superficiality of the lyrics. Lines are the same but for the change of a word, and there's little to be found in the wordplay. The "take you away" B section (still echoing Napoleon XIV: They're coming to take me away ha! ha!) goes through the verbs waiting to / hoping to / coming to / dying to, which to me can't be dignified as an allusion to the Tibetan Book of the Dead. It seems a Victorian pun, comparing “cumming” with dying. The advertising jingle aspect of the song and its magical land of nothing but wonderment invites me to compare the song with Try It by the Hollies.

It has been reported in the Beatles Bible that Lennon and Harrison were unenthusiastic about McCartney's concept of the magic bus tour. For both Harrison and Lennon LSD had led to a perspective that didn't tolerate such superficiality, such lack of detail, such empty promise, treating an LSD experience as nothing more than an innocent trip to summer camp, the subject for a musical. Much of the audience, through current events if not through experience, knew that LSD was not an experience as harmless as a Disneyland amusement park ride. Rather than treating the trip as mystic magic signifying truth and vision, it was becoming a magic trick signifying entertainment. This kind of "magic" was quickly devolving from psychedelia into bubblegum. One of the Who’s moderately successful singles of the 1960s in the U.S., Magic Bus, took something like the same tact, about six months later.

TOP      NEXT      PREVIOUS      CONTACT