Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Wild Honey Pie

Robert Bunter: Most people hear this baffling, one-minute track when they’re listening to the White Album and reach for the fast-forward button on their cassette deck. It’s not difficult to discern why – Paul probably thought this was a delightfully madcap bit of fun which would aerate side one of the Beatles most diverse, wide-ranging grab bag of an album. Unfortunately, he missed the mark. “Wild Honey Pie” is a terrifying, boingy nightmare which sheds an unsettling light on the darker shades and melancholy moods of the White Album. Although I have no independent confirmation of this, intuition tells me that this song originated as a campfire singalong during the meditation retreat in India (not unlike “The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill,” which follows). After a day of silent reflection and a meal of dhakti paste and vhan ghundi crumbles, it was time to cut loose. The faces of the white-robed Beatles and Mike Love glow eerily in the firelight as “Jazz Woodbine” cigarettes were passed surreptitiously around. George peers disapprovingly from his chalet while Paul strums his boingy guitar and John begins to moan and screech in his British old-lady voice. This went on for hours and the natives were terrified. “Let’s remember that for the next LP then, eh?”

George peers disapprovingly from his chalet while Paul strums his boingy guitar and John begins to moan and screech in his British old-lady voice.

Richard Furnstein: They must have looked like real vindaloons! Sure, "Wild Honey Pie" has a heavy dose of the special magic from the jasmine forests of Risikesh. The moment that you described is a huge part of the legend around that fractured recording. To be fair, I imagine all of The White Album's material to take the same path: a song is hurriedly dashed off in a tent or around a campfire. John and Paul delight in playing hooky from the Maharishi's spiritual agenda. A few tugs on a biri laced with organic South Indian cheeb brings on a wave of inspiration. Later, Mike Love pokes his head into the tent to offer some words of advice on the song. Paul nods and gently thanks him for his wisdom, but secretly worries that Love will take credit for the song's composition.

Robert Bunter: You're on the right track, keep going.

Richard Furnstein: Wait, WILD HONEY PIE. I get it. I think Love does deserve a hand on this one. He also encouraged The Beatles to cut the track, saving it from the inevitable dustbin or a b-side for The Grapefruit or Badfinger. You win again, Mike Love. Thank you for the "good night, baby" part on "Wouldn't It Be Nice." Thank you for the achingly beautiful verses of "Don't Got Near The Water. You really set the table for Al Jardine to have a feast on the chorus! Bless you, Mr. Mike Love, for the original Landlocked (non--country rock) version of "Big Sur." It's my favorite Beach Boys recording. And--of course--the role that you played in "Wild Honey Pie," the most uninspired/unlistenable/inconsequential Beatles track of them all.

Robert Bunter: I knew you'd figure it out. That's why God made the Beach Boys!

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