Released: 26 September 1969 (UK), 1 October 1969 (US)
Recorded as one with Sun King, Mean Mr Mustard was composed in India by John Lennon in spring 1968. It was considered for inclusion on the White Album, but wasn’t recorded in the studio until the Abbey Road sessions the following year.
The song originated from a newspaper story about a miserly man who was said to have hidden his money in his rectum.
That’s me, writing a piece of garbage. I’d read somewhere in the newspaper about this mean guy who hid five-pound notes, not up his nose but somewhere else. No, it had nothing to do with cocaine.
All We Are Saying, David Sheff
Another interpretation was later offered by Tony Bramwell, an associate of the group.
There was an old ‘bag lady’ who used to hang around the Knightsbridge end of Hyde Park, London, close to the army barracks. She had all her possessions in plastic bags and slept in the park. I’m sure that she had something to do with the song.
The group originally recorded a demo of Mean Mr Mustard at Kinfauns, George Harrison’s bungalow in Esher, Surrey. This version, from May 1968, was eventually released on Anthology 3.
Mean Mr Mustard was originally considered for inclusion on the White Album, although it wasn’t recorded in the studio until 1969.
In Mean Mr Mustard I said ‘his sister Pam’ – originally it was ‘his sister Shirley’ in the lyric. I changed it to Pam to make it sound like it had something to do with it [Polythene Pam]. They are only finished bits of crap that I wrote in India.
During the development of Abbey Road’s long medley, Her Majesty was originally included between Mean Mr Mustard and Polythene Pam, before Paul McCartney decided that the sequence didn’t work.
However, when Her Majesty appeared at the end of the album it was anticipated by the final crashing chord of Mean Mr Mustard, left in from an early mix.
In the studio
Mean Mr Mustard was recorded as one with Sun King. The Beatles began recording the songs back-to-back on 24 July, taping 35 takes of the rhythm track. They then added a series of overdubs on 25 and 29 July.