The Beatles ad-libbed the song ‘Los Paranoias’ during a recording session for the White Album, following an impromptu version of Paul McCartney’s ‘Step Inside Love’, which he had written for Cilla Black in 1967.
Although ‘Los Paranoias’ is credited to all four members of The Beatles, George Harrison did not attend the session or otherwise contribute.
When we came to sing it, to make them different we started joking, saying ‘cuando para mucho’. We just made it up. Paul knew a few Spanish words from school, so we just strung any Spanish words that sounded vaguely like something. And of course we got ‘chicka ferdi’ – that’s a Liverpool expression; it doesn’t mean anything, just like ‘ha ha ha’. One we missed: we could have had ‘para noia’, but we forgot all about it. We used to call ourselves Los Para Noias.
Lennon eventually used the phrase on his 1973 solo album Mind Games. In the credits for the Plastic U.F.Ono Band the clavinet was credited to “Dr Winston O’Boogie & Los Paranoias”. O’Boogie was a pseudonym adopted by Lennon in the mid-1970s.
In the studio
‘Los Paranoias’ was recorded on 16 September 1968, during a session for ‘I Will’. In between takes, Paul McCartney led the group through a bossa-nova version of ‘Step Inside Love’. The song had been the theme tune to Cilla Black’s BBC TV show, which began in January that year.
After the song, McCartney can be heard mockingly announced the fictional group ‘Joe Prairies and the Prairie Wallflowers’. John Lennon follows up the comment by saying ‘Los Paranoias’, perhaps in reference to Trio Los Paraguyas, who often appeared on BBC television shows in the 1950s and 60s.
With Lennon and Starr on percussion, McCartney then improvised ‘Los Paranoias’. The song lasted 3’48, but was faded out to last less than one minute when it appeared on Anthology 3. The full version was released in 2018 on the 50th anniversary box set reissue of the White Album.