Tuesday, April 5, 2011
Magical Mystery Tour
Robert Bunter: Here's McCartney: "Hmmmmm...look at that bus over there. Average, everyday people ride buses all the time; it's something we can all relate to. What if it was a trippy magic bus, taking everyone on a wild journey to who knows where? That's fantastic, y'know? Okay, let's go ahead and do it. I'll just ring the others and inform them know that this half-baked notion will be the centerpiece of our new album and feature-length Boxing Day television special. That settles that. I'm off to attend a happening at Miles "Hoppy" Indica's new avant-garde gallery. Good thing I have this cocaine! I'll just finish this plate of beans and English 'crisps' and then ring my driver to pop over and take me away. Hmmmm, 'take me away.' That's a good lyric. I'll just write it down on this scrap of paper, that way it will be worth over two million pounds at a Sotheby's auction in 1987. What a life!"
Richard Furnstein: In his classic over explaining of his flights of fancy from this era, Paul describes the mystery tours that were taking over soggy England during the late 1960s. Basically, a bunch of heart disease candidates cram into an unventilated bus to tour the fetid countryside and local oddities. It sounds like a nice diversion for people without real money or a sense of smell. Americans, on the other hand, have no real reference for this phenomena; instead, "magical mystery tour" sounds like a Scooby Doo adventure. The song rarely rises above the Hanna-Barbara implications of my American mind. Your mind isn't advanced by this material (unlike recent triumphs like "She's Leaving Home" or "Fixing A Hole'), it is basically an unconvincing appeal to have a good time. I'm having a grand old time, Paul. There's just no way in hell I'm getting on that gross bus or encouraging this stupid concept.
Robert Bunter: Me, neither. But if you separate this song from the malodorous, cramped bus concept which inspired it, you're dealing with a wonderfully muscular vintage 1967 Beatles song. Okay, so they were recycling the Sgt. Pepper formula a little bit, but come on! It's great, they had every right to explore that territory a bit more. How about that creepy ending? I always enjoyed the way it subtly deflated the brassy mood of the song. Suddenly the bus door opens and you step outside, only to find yourself confronted by a bleak, desolate expanse inhabited by a ghostly piano and the sound of gently tinkling wine glasses from a haunted otherness outside the boundaries of temporal mind-space. Also, the drums sound great on this track.
Richard Furnstein: Sure, Ringo's drums sound great (a perfect era for his snare), the aforementioned backing vocals make the song, and the clipped acoustic guitars deliver a little more grounded energy than most of the overcooked and delicately produced Beatles music for this era.