I Am the Walrus

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"I Am the Walrus" is a 1967 song by The Beatles, written by John Lennon and credited to Lennon/McCartney.[1] Lennon claimed he wrote the first two lines on separate acid trips.[2] The song was in the Beatles' 1967 television film and album Magical Mystery Tour, and was the B-side to the #1 hit "Hello, Goodbye".

Lennon composed the song by combining three songs he had been working on. When he learned that a teacher at his old primary school was having his students analyse Beatles' lyrics, he added a verse of nonsense words.[3]

The walrus is a reference to the walrus in Lewis Carroll's "The Walrus and the Carpenter" (from the book Through the Looking-Glass). Lennon expressed dismay upon belatedly realising that the walrus was a villain in the poem.[4]

Contents

Origins

The genesis of the lyrics is found in three song ideas that Lennon was working on, the first of which was inspired by hearing a police siren at his home in Weybridge; Lennon wrote the lines "Mis-ter cit-y police-man" to the rhythm of the siren. The second idea was a short rhyme about Lennon sitting in his garden, while the third was a nonsense lyric about sitting on a corn flake. Unable to finish the ideas as three different songs, he combined them into one.

Lennon received a letter from a pupil at Quarry Bank High School, which he had attended. The writer mentioned that the English master was making his class analyse Beatles' lyrics. (Lennon wrote an answer, dated 1 September 1967, which was auctioned by Christie's of London in 1992). Lennon, amused that a teacher was putting so much effort into understanding the Beatles' lyrics, wrote the most confusing lyrics he could. Lennon's friend and former fellow member of The Quarrymen, Peter Shotton, was visiting, and Lennon asked Shotton about a playground nursery rhyme they sang as children.

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