A song about the ‘Apple scruffs’ that held vigil outside the group’s headquarters, Abbey Road Studios and the members’ homes, ‘She Came In Through The Bathroom Window’ was written by Paul McCartney and first released as part of the long medley on Abbey Road.
The song is believed to have been based on an incident involving some fans who took a ladder from McCartney’s garden, climbed into his house in Cavendish Avenue, London, and stole a precious picture, possibly of his father.
We found a ladder in his garden and stuck it up at the bathroom window which he’d left slightly open. I was the one who climbed up and got in.
A Hard Day’s Write, Steve Turner
Some of the Scruffs are said to have known where McCartney kept a key to his house, and took turns to look around inside. The more daring of the set took mementos from the scene until McCartney became wise to the losses.
There were really two groups of Apple Scruffs – those who would break in and those who would just wait outside with cameras and autograph books. I used to take Paul’s dog for a walk and got to know him quite well…
I knew there was one picture he particularly wanted back – a colour-tinted picture of him in a Thirties frame. I knew who had taken this and got it back for him.
A Hard Day’s Write, Steve Turner
McCartney’s neighbours attempted to contact him when they realised the break-ins were taking place, inspiring the lines “Sunday’s on the phone to Monday, Tuesday’s on the phone to me.”
Another version of the tale was revealed by the Moody Blues. Their former keyboard player Mike Pinder claimed that a groupie climbed through an open bathroom window and spent the night with band member Ray Thomas. Pinder and Thomas are said to have told McCartney about the incident the next day, who began strumming on a guitar and improvised the opening line.
In 1980 John Lennon said that the song was written while he and McCartney were in New York in 1968.
All We Are Saying, David Sheff
Lennon and McCartney were in New York in May 1968 to announce the formation of Apple Corps. In October that year, when the White Album had been completed, McCartney flew to the city once again to see Linda Eastman.
And the end of his two-week stay, McCartney was in a taxi heading to JFK airport. At the time he needed a final verse for ‘She Came In Through The Bathroom Window’, and noticed the driver’s police identification panel on the dashboard. The ID had a photograph of the driver, along with the name Eugene Quits, above the words ‘New York Police Dept.’
So I got ‘So I quit the police department’, which are part of the lyrics to that. This was the great thing about the randomness of it all. If I hadn’t been in this guy’s cab, or if it had been someone else driving, the song would have been different. Also I had a guitar there so I could solidify it into something straight away.
Many Years From Now, Barry Miles
The end of ‘She Came In Through The Bathroom Window’ brings a pause in the Abbey Road medley. The song concludes a song cycle that begins with ‘Sun King’, and continues with ‘Mean Mr Mustard’ and ‘Polythene Pam’.
A slower version, meanwhile, can be found on Anthology 3. This was recorded on 21 January 1969 during the Get Back sessions at Apple Studios. The Beatles also played the song on 6, 7, 8, 9, 24, and 29 January.
In the studio
‘Polythene Pam’ and ‘She Came In Through The Bathroom Window’ were recorded as one on 25 July 1969. They taped 39 takes of the songs’ basic track, with John Lennon and Paul McCartney singing guide vocals where needed.
Take 39 was selected as the best, and was subjected to further overdubs. Take 27, meanwhile, was released on some formats of the 50th anniversary reissue of Abbey Road.
The basic tracks featured McCartney’s bass guitar on track one of the eight-track tape; Ringo Starr’s drums on track two; Lennon’s 12-string acoustic guitar on three; George Harrison’s electric lead guitar on four; and vocals by Lennon and McCartney on six.
Towards the end of the same session, between 10.30pm-2.30am, Lennon and McCartney replaced their guide vocals with proper attempts.
On 28 July they added a range of overdubs to the two songs, including more lead vocals, acoustic and electric guitars, tambourine and other percussion, electric and acoustic piano. Recording was concluded on 30 July with the addition of backing vocals, percussion, and guitar overdubs.