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The Divisive Albums Podcast Episode 5: The Beatles’ White Album

Five episodes! FIVE episodes! FIVE….never mind. For episode five, we go big, looking at an album by some guys from Liverpool who I guess were kind of big in the 1960s? Big enough that they could follow up a landmark album with a 93-minute opus and no one would bat an eye. And despite the band beginning to fall apart, or maybe because of the band beginning to fall apart, they managed to write a bunch of songs in a bunch of differing styles. Come explore The Beatles’ 1968 self-titled album, AKA The White Album!

Check out these SHOW NOTES!

0:00: Intro and Theme Song
0:23: About me and the podcast.
0:48: Introducing our band: The Beatles!
0:53: A bit about my trepidation in doing this episode, and a little about The Beatles themselves.
1:42: On how The Beatles’ popularity endures.
2:47: Introducing this album’s episode, The White Album!
3:07: Some “double albums” wouldn’t be double albums today.
3:36: This DOES NOT apply to The White Album.
3:52: But is this album actually divisive? Yes. It is.
4:06: People generally agree 2/3rds of it are great…
4:17: …but no one agrees on WHICH 2/3rds that is!
4:26: Guess what? This album technically had ZERO singles in the UK/US!
5:06: So how did I decide what songs to discuss?
5:20: By picking the relatively lesser-known ones…
5:39: …Where I used The Beatles Rock Band to decide which tracks DIDN’T fit that description.
6:20: Presenting our first excerpt, from “Glass Onion”
6:49: Discussing a bit about the “Beatles Mythology” that had built up by 1968.
7:07: Another excerpt, and the “Paul Is Dead” rumor.
8:06: American Internet Jerk BUTCHERS the Greek Language in only THREE WORDS!!
8:40: On why the “Paul Is Dead” theory got so popular in 1969.
9:13: The chorus of “Glass Onion”, and its weird accent on “onION”.
9:38: An excerpt from and discussion of “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da”
10:10: The Beatles are fallible! Another excerpt, where the song characters’ roles are reversed, among other things.
10:51: An excerpt from and discussion of “Wild Honey Pie”, a strange little mini-song.
11:20: Discussing this song in the context of turning The White Album from a double to a single album (Most people cut it).
11:43: Discussing “The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill” and playing an excerpt from it.
12:28: Another “Bungalow Bill” excerpt, and introducing Yoko Ono!
13:04: A bit more about Yoko, and…
13:13: Digressing into the movie This Is Spinal Tap!
13:30: Back to Ono and how she totally didn’t break up The Beatles.
13:45: Turns out people who spend every waking hour together for YEARS get sick of each other!
13:57: Skipping ahead to George Harrison’s “Piggies”, which seems like it’s about pigs…
14:25: But is actually about CAPITALISM!…
14:53: And how it turns people into symbolic CANNIBALS!!
15:15: On one of the factors in The Beatles’ breakup: Lennon and McCartney not giving Harrison his due for his songwriting prowess.
16:02: Though Harrison could be goofy too.
16:08: Introducing and discussing “Savoy Truffle”, where Harrison worries about Eric Clapton’s dental health (Yes, really).
16:48: Comparing The Beatles to System of a Down (Yes, really).
17:27: Discussion of and an excerpt from “Yer Blues”, by John Lennon.
17:57: On Lennon’s genuine unhappiness at the time shining through the absurdity of the lyrics.
18:20: On The Beatles as musical chameleons.
18:53: Discussing the fracturing of the Lennon-McCartney song-writing partnership.
19:26: Lennon’s annoyance at McCartney’s pop songs.
19:36: Like this one, “Martha My Dear”, which sounds straight out of 1940.
20:08: So does this one, “Honey Pie” (Not the Wild variety).
20:41: McCartney, meanwhile, was annoyed at Lennon’s Avant-Garde focus…
21:01: …Which culminated in this, “Revolution 9”.
21:27: Discussing what Lennon was going for, and the technical difficulties in doing so in 1968.
22:14: How Lennon took up all of Abbey Road studios to put “Revolution 9” together.
22:22: On how to treat “Revolution 9” (Listen to it with a good pair of headphones. Once. And only once.)
22:40: Because it’s the OTHER song most people cut when reducing The White Album to one album.
23:00: Discussing a few other forgettable songs, and Ringo Starr’s dissatisfaction around this time.
23:37: Paul McCartney actually played drums on some songs after Ringo peaced out for a bit.
24:15: Ringo eventually comes back and they finish making the album.
24:26: And a strong album it is!
24:53: But how’d it perform on the market? Pretty well.
25:07: Like “#1 in multiple countries” well.
25:35: Like “Going Diamond in the US twice” well.
25:56: Like “The fourth-biggest selling album ever in the US, INCLUDING compilations (Third-best excluding them)” well.
26:18: Final Thoughts
26:55: Outro and Social Media. Twitter, Website, Discord, Patreon, The Music For Two Podcast

Other Links:
A 2010 Michigan Today Article discussing how the “Paul Is Dead” rumor blew up.
A Rolling Stone Interview with John Lennon and Yoko Ono in 1971. Lennon discusses “Yer Blues” here: “[…]They always struck me as – what is the word? Funny? Ironic? – that I was writing them supposedly in the presence of guru and meditating so many hours a day, writing […] songs of such pain as “Yer Blues” which I meant. […]”
A Howard Stern Interview with Ringo Starr in October 2018. In the text summary, it mentions the “I thought it was you three!” story.

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