Baby You’re A Rich Man

Magical Mystery Tour album artworkWritten by: Lennon-McCartney
Recorded: 11 May 1967
Producer: George Martin
Engineer: Keith Grant

Released: 7 July 1967 (UK), 17 July 1967 (US)

John Lennon: vocals, clavioline, piano
Paul McCartney: vocals, piano, bass
George Harrison: vocals, guitar, handclaps
Ringo Starr: drums, tambourine, maracas
Eddie Kramer: vibraphone
Mick Jagger: vocals

Available on:
Magical Mystery Tour
Yellow Submarine Songtrack

A combination of two unfinished Lennon-McCartney song fragments, Baby You’re A Rich Man was recorded in a single day and issued as the b-side to All You Need Is Love.

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The first song recorded specifically for The Beatles’ animated film Yellow Submarine, Baby You’re A Rich Man segued together Lennon’s falsetto verses and McCartney’s bouncy, chanting chorus.

That’s a combination of two separate pieces, Paul’s and mine, put together and forced into one song. One half was al mine. [Sings] ‘How does it feel to be one of the beautiful people, now that you know who you are, da da da da.’ Then Pal comes in with [sings] ‘Baby, you’re a rich man,’ which was a lick he had around.
John Lennon
All We Are Saying, David Sheff

Lennon’s section was originally titled One Of The Beautiful People. It was possibly inspired by the 14-Hour Technicolour Dream, a ‘happening’ which took place on 29 April 1967, shortly before the song was recorded. John Lennon attended the event, which was headlined by Pink Floyd.

Paul McCartney’s chorus, meanwhile, mostly centres on a single note. Its lyrics, like Lennon’s verses, contain sufficient psychedelic nonsense to suit the times.

The lyrics are thought to relate, at least in part, to The Beatles’ manager Brian Epstein. Indeed, it has been claimed that Lennon sang “Baby you’re a rich fag Jew” in the studio.

Although originally intended for the Yellow Submarine soundtrack, Baby You’re A Rich Man was included on the All You Need Is Love single, which was rush-released following The Beatles’ appearance on the Our World satellite link-up.

On 7 August 1967 George Harrison visited San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury district. Accompanied by his wife Pattie, Neil Aspinall and Derek Taylor, he strummed a few bars of the song on an acoustic guitar for the assembled beautiful people in Golden Gate Park.

In the studio

This curiously sparse recording was completed in a single session on 11 May 1967. It took place at Olympic Sound Studios, in Barnes, London, between 9pm and 3am the following morning.

Baby You’re A Rich Man was the first Beatles song recorded and mixed entirely away from Abbey Road. According to studio manager Keith Grant, who also engineered the session, The Beatles were unaccustomed to working to such a fast pace in 1967.

I do a lot of orchestral work and you naturally push people along. The Beatles said that this was the fastest record they’d ever made. They were used to a much more leisurely pace. We started the session at about 9pm and it was finished and mixed by 3am, vocals and everything. They kept on playing, version after version, then we spooled back to the one they liked and overdubbed the vocals.
Keith Grant
The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions, Mark Lewisohn

Lennon played a clavioline, a three-octave monophonic keyboard which was sped up to give an oboe-like effect. He also played piano, and sang lead and backing vocals, along with McCartney and Harrison.

McCartney also played bass and piano, Harrison contributed lead guitar, and Ringo performed percussion. Eddie Kramer, an engineer on the session, reportedly also played a vibraphone.

Mick Jagger was present at the session, and one of the tape boxes noted his name alongside The Beatles’, suggesting he also sang backing vocals during the later choruses.

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21 Responses to “Baby You’re A Rich Man”

  1. Luke

    how could it be released in july if it was recorded in september? unless the dates are switched.

    Reply
    • Joe

      That was my mistake – thanks for pointing it out. The article said put the recording date as “11 May September 1967″. This was a cut-and-paste error, and should have just been 11 May.

      Reply
  2. steve kirkaldy

    Baby you’re a rich man has one of THE coolest intros ever with the percussion, then piano, then bass and I guess that clavioline.

    Reply
  3. mike

    I thought this was one of the songs that Rolling Stone genius Brian Jones played on along with You know my name, (look up the number.)

    Reply
    • Eric Thiede

      Yes …. every story I have ever heard about this song mentions that Brian Jones plays on this track.

      Reply
  4. Richard Calvert

    BYARM,…Originally on Side B’ of the “All You Need Is Love 45. When this song came out I was so amazed by the sound being produced, it was beautiful,… and yes they all deserved all that was given them monitarily! The best group in the world should not have to think about money!

    Reply
  5. Chris

    Do you have any type of source that indicates John seriously does say “Baby, you’re a rich fag Jew”?

    I’ve listened to this song many times, and every time I’ve heard that line, I’ve never thought he says that. John definitely and positively says simply “Baby you’re a rich man, too”.

    I feel this is a case where people are looking way too much into a lyric.

    Reply
    • Beatlesguru

      You can hear it just as the song is fading… John’s voice rises up and says “Baby you’re a rich Fag Jew” as the other vocals (Paul etc) sing the proper chorus. A little hard to distinguish because it’s somewhat muffled but I hear it for sure…

      Reply
    • Happiness is a warm gun

      Yeah, I have heard this story before but never came across any compelling source suggesting this is true. I don’t hear it myself–every “too” is clearly “too” with that t sound at the start.

      Reply
    • TomMo

      Let me offer my opinion as an “earwitness”: I bought the original mono single on the day it was released in 1967. I definitely heard “rich fag Jew” in the fadeout. It sounded like John speak-singing it. It was clear and audible. I heard it the first time I played it. There were no rumors flying around about the new Beatles single containing something controversial.Having said that, I will also say that the line was muddled on subsequent vinyl releases (MMT, YS). The consonants didn’t pop out of my speakers like they did on the single. On the 2009 CD remaster, its virtually non-existent. My theory: First, I believe the song was a tribute to Brian Epstein, for reasons I’ll post at another time. Given John’s other jibes at Brian for his sexual orientation and Jewish heritage, the tag at the end was John’s way of saying: “Brian, in case you haven’t figured it out, this song is for you.” The song was released in July, 1967. Brian died 6 weeks later. What was a private, inside joke in July might be considered in bad taste in August. Perhaps John or Sir George chose to “hide” it on subsequent remixes. NOTE: The first stereo mix clocks in 9 seconds shorter than the original mono.

      Reply
  6. James

    The following is from “John Lennon: The Life” by Philip Norman:

    …The B-side to “All You Need Is Love” was a hippie-debunking Lennon song called “Baby You’re a Rich man,” ostensibly mocking the Beautiful People but providing a coded double dig at Brian. In practice sessions (some say on the finished track also), John sang its chorus of “Baby, you’re a rich man, too,” as “you’re a rich fag Jew.” (page 503)

    Reply
    • Joseph Brush

      Philip Norman should provide proper documentation or quit indulging in heresay (“some say on the finished track also”).

      Reply
  7. GabrielAntonio

    This song was recently used on David Fincher’s The Social Network.
    Superb movie that fits perfectly with this underrated masterpiece.

    Reply
  8. Butcher Pete

    [quote]…he [Harrison] performed the song on an acoustic guitar for the assembled beautiful people in a local park.[/quote]

    That would be Golden Gate Park. It’s a bit more than a local park. Larger than New York’s Central Park.

    Reply
  9. john cumming

    all comments have been about john’s part, which is almost the whole song, except for the single line, “baby you’re a rich man.” paul seems to be addressing a female (“baby”), i’m guessing a beautiful one. a rich man is a powerful man. my feeling is, as it was back then, that paul’s remarking on the power of beautiful women. like when morrison says “sidewalk crouches at her feet.”

    Reply
  10. geothemusicman

    Beautiful verses by John!!! The chorus by Paul is perfectly catchy, especially the part where they say “nothing to do”. I just love that part!!!

    Reply
  11. John Lundquist

    Recently I’ve been struck by the piano chords in the intro and verses, especially the way they are played in varying rhythms. Does anyone know who played that part, John or Paul?

    Reply

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