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10 September 2014
7.57am
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Oudis
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In defense of Piggies I’ll say that the lyrics seem to me wonderfully sarcastic, and a bitter critic of the bourgeois life. A metaphor and a snapshot of people whose lives are a lie, and unfulfilled, and also beastly, predatory and cannibalistic lives (Piggies eating bacon). In my opinion it’s not a criticism of the Commie regime as in Animal Farm, but of Capitalism, of Western societies. Granted: not many people will like that (do they see themselves in the song, consciously or not?); but I loved it when I was sixteen and I love it now –and I’m consistent, I’ve led a life that isn’t piggy-like at all. It’s George being ironic like John, politically committed if you want. The lyrics, then? Extraordinary. The melody? Good. The arrangements? Superb. The interpretation? Couldn’t be better. Yes, it’s not While My Guitar Gently Weeps –but George didn’t want it to be.

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Forsan et haec olim meminisse juvabit” (“Perhaps one day it will be a pleasure to look back on even this”; Virgil, The Aeneid, Book 1, line 203, where Aeneas says this to his men after the shipwreck that put them on the shores of Africa)

10 September 2014
5.31pm
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Funny Paper
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Oudis, yes I agree; however, that anti-bourgeois theme has been done to death.  It was already hackneyed before the 19th century was even over, then in the following century some 60 million people were massacred and/or oppressed over that grotesque hobbyhorse synthesized by Marx & Lenin (the ghastly opposites of Groucho and John). And George himself was a millionaire when he wrote it, enjoying a life few have the fortune or luck to enjoy.  Given all this, what redeems the song is George's wonderfully deadpan delivery, and the excellent musicianship all round.

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10 September 2014
10.12pm
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Sugarplum fairy
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I get your point FP.  I quite like the song.  It did sum up a reaction to some fat cats at the time.  Although George did have the money I don't think he would ever have stepped on necks to get it. 

My favourite bit in the music is at the beginning just where the singing starts.  There are acoustic two overdubbed guitars playing together but not the same strum so they sort of 'talk' to each other.  In a way it reminds me of those guitars at the start of Lovely Rita '.  The two guitars take on a new rhythm in some way.  Hard to describe really but whatever it is, it works for me!   

11 September 2014
5.30am
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Oudis
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Funny Paper said
Oudis, yes I agree; however, that anti-bourgeois theme has been done to death.  It was already hackneyed before the 19th century was even over, then in the following century some 60 million people were massacred and/or oppressed over that grotesque hobbyhorse synthesized by Marx & Lenin (the ghastly opposites of Groucho and John). And George himself was a millionaire when he wrote it, enjoying a life few have the fortune or luck to enjoy.  Given all this, what redeems the song is George's wonderfully deadpan delivery, and the excellent musicianship all round.

Oh, my comments didn’t try to glorify Marx, Lenin, Castro or Che Guevara, I was just analyzing George’s song. It’s just that bourgeois life is many times soulless, and that is, I think, what George, a deeply spiritual man, disliked about it. It produces soulless homes like the one Paul described in She’s Leaving Home. One doesn’t have to be a Commie to acknowledge these facts. And in the sixties many teenagers understood it –felt it– and left their homes to join the hippy movement, seeking something their families had failed to provide. That feeling was part of the zeitgeist of that time. That’s why I like the song lyrics, not only George’s skills at composing or performing it.

Forsan et haec olim meminisse juvabit” (“Perhaps one day it will be a pleasure to look back on even this”; Virgil, The Aeneid, Book 1, line 203, where Aeneas says this to his men after the shipwreck that put them on the shores of Africa)

11 September 2014
6.25am
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Funny Paper
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Oudis,

I understand, and sure, George being a child of the 50s/60s was part of that counter-culture commentary, which isn't all wrong, to be sure.

Sugarplum,

I don't hear any guitars at the beginning, only harpsichord, then other instruments.

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11 September 2014
1.45pm
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Starr Shine?
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^ wasn't he also a child of the '40s 

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14 November 2014
6.09pm
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Matt Busby
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I was just listening to the "unplugged" boot and heard Piggies and I just love the way they all get loud and sarcastic when they sing "damn good whacking" - and at least in the states that phrase became widely used in the 70s and 80s when sarcastically commenting that someone has... how do I say this in 21st century lingo... A negative clue a-hard-days-night-john-1

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14 November 2014
10.06pm
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Oyster Black Pearl
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I like Piggies - as mentioned it's placement between Blackbird and Rocky Racoon is perfect, but first and foremost as a piece of satire. I seem to remember it's not about bourgeois lifestyles as such, but is directed at The Police (referred to in British slang as "pigs"), who at that time were performing drug-busts on the Rock hierarchy of the day, George included. 

Listen to it as such, and it's a brilliant piece of biting, bitter songwriting.

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14 November 2014
10.43pm
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Ron Nasty
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Have to disagree with your interpretation totally I'm afraid, @Oyster Black Pearl. Nothing at all to do with the police, but a piece of social commentary about the "men in suits".

The first draft was written in 1966, around the same time as Taxman another piece of social commentary, and long before the UK police started their regular busts of rock musicians for drug use.

George came across the unfinished draft in early 1968, and decided it was worth finishing, which he did with contributions from his mother ("What they need's a damn good whacking") and John ("Clutching forks and knives to eat their bacon").

George said of it himself:

Piggies is a social comment. I was stuck for one line in the middle until my mother came up with the lyric, "What they need is a damn good whacking" which is a nice simple way of saying they need a good hiding. It needed to rhyme with "backing", "lacking", and had absolutely nothing to do with American policemen or Californian shagnasties!

The idea of Piggies  is drawn from George Orwell's Animal Farm.

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14 November 2014
11.16pm
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Oyster Black Pearl
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Well I'm amazed and stand corrected! I clearly remember reading that interpretation over 30 years ago, sure it was backed up by quotes. That's how I've always thought of it when listening.  

Amazing how inaccuracies like this are quickly dispelled with the advent of t'internet!

Cheers!

 

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18 November 2014
4.07pm
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Ahhh Girl
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In honor of Annadog40's birthday, I add these pictures to this thread

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18 November 2014
4.11pm
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Ahhh Girl said
In honor of Annadog40's birthday, I add these pictures to this thread

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 It has to be asked. Which pig is supposed to represent which of the other Beatles?

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19 November 2014
5.30am
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Oudis
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meanmistermustard said 

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It has to be asked. Which pig is supposed to represent which of the other Beatles?

The big one is John. The one with a tie and taking notes is Paul. The three of them are listening to George Martin, who is explaining to them how he will make their songs sound the way they want them to sound. The eye in the sky is Brian.

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Forsan et haec olim meminisse juvabit” (“Perhaps one day it will be a pleasure to look back on even this”; Virgil, The Aeneid, Book 1, line 203, where Aeneas says this to his men after the shipwreck that put them on the shores of Africa)

19 November 2014
1.00pm
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Starr Shine?
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ahdn_paul_06 Where is Ringo Pig?

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20 November 2014
2.22pm
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Zig
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He is out parading.

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3 December 2014
2.01pm
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Matt Busby
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Linde said

Matt Busby said
I dislike Helter Skelter , one reason being the Manson connection, but also the song just doesn't please me aesthetically.  That is to say, the sound kinda grates on my ears, to be honest.  It's definitely my least favorite Beatles song.

But to get on topic, I've kinda grown to like Piggies more as I've aged (it still lies, I'm sorry to say, near the bottom).  I think the video of Free As A Bird helped me like it more, those kids were so cute.  I didn't know the Mansons had a thing for it, that really sucks.  The female lead in the American film The (500) days of Summer says Piggies is her favorite Beatles song (and the boyfriend is like wth?) just to inject a Beatly moment.  But one thing I've been wanting to know - was Piggies the first use of the phrase "what they need's a damn good whacking"?  I know it's been repeated many times in tv and film, I think I remember a Monty Python skit, or maybe in the movie "...Holy Grail" as one place.

 

I thought her favourite was Octopus's Garden ?

I was reviewing this topic and googled this and her fave was Piggies

I can't believe they preferred this over something like All Things Must Pass either. I'm not saying Piggies is a particular bad song, but ATMP beats it with miles. But, if I recall correctly, ATMP wasn't recorded until somewhere in 1969. Perhaps you meant Not Guilty ? Or was ATMP already known during the recording of the White Album ? If you were talking about Not Guilty , I still agree. I think it's still better than Savoy Truffle or Piggies .

 Since I've been a member here my stock in Piggies has gone up. Maybe just because I've listened to it a lot ;)   As far as atmp,  I think it's exclusion from the White Album was one of those things that was just "meant to be." just as the last line of The End is imo the greatest lyric a band has ever gone out on, I think atmp is the ultimate album as far as "first solo album by a former member of the greatest band ever." the album title is so timely, the song is tremendous, and it's a great album in general.

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22 March 2020
4.35pm
Old Soak
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I love it, a wonderful, sarcastic, sly work about the class system in Britain which was strong in the 1960's and particularly the relationship between an elite looking down their noses at the 'plebs'. As scathing as Taxman ever was. The harpsichord backing in particular counterpoints the lyrics in a supreme juxtaposition of 'the sophisticated' versus the rest.

 

Anyway, questions about the Piggie noises - are they the band imitating with the sound suitably treated with effects or real pigs? And if so do they come from a BBC sound effect disc or similar, or are they a field recording made especially? Where were they recorded if the latter? To my ears they sound like real pigs and I can't imagine they brought one into the studio. 

22 March 2020
6.32pm
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From Joe's article

There’s a tape called Animals And Bees (volume 35) which includes pigs. It’s from an old EMI 78 rpm record and The Beatles may have used a combination of that and their own voices. That always works well – the new voices hide the 78 rpm scratchiness, the original record hides the fact that some of the sounds are man made.
 
Stuart Eltham, engineer
The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions, Mark Lewisohn
 
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No real Piggies were taken into the studio, I think that would have been too off the wall for even one of johnandyoko's concepts.

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23 March 2020
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Beatlebug
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I'm just getting a mental image of Paul and Mal wrestling a big old hog into Abbey Road 's big room, bumping into the microphones and amplifiers that George is trying to move out of the way, while George Martin and the engineers look on in horror and John laughs his arse off. a-hard-days-night-john-6

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23 March 2020
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Old Soak
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Close enough recreation!

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