When Bad Songs Happen To Good Bands #1

“You see, I think drugs have done some good for us. I really do. And if you don’t believe drugs have done good things for us, do me a favor. Go home tonight. Take all your albums, all your tapes, and all your CDs and burn them. Because you know what? The musicians that made all that great music that’s enhanced your lives throughout the years were real fucking high on drugs. The Beatles were so fucking high they let Ringo sing a few tunes.”

— Bill Hicks

Mr. Hicks had a point, you know. Some of the greatest music ever made was created by people who were stoned out of their minds. You name it, musicians have smoked or injected it. Hell, Keith Richards alone has probably singlehandedly sustained a few Third World economies. If he gets cremated when (if?) he dies, his ashes would probably give you the most incredible buzz in the history of mankind.

But of course musicians are only human. Not every song they create is going to be a classic. Even the greatest musicial minds are prone to churning out some clunkers. Nobody’s immune to failure. And no matter how high you get, a lousy song is just a lousy song.

This is what happens… When Bad Songs Happen To Good Bands.

Take the Beatles, for example. They’re easily the most influential band in the history of rock. Just about every band that’s come out since the mid-’60s can trace their influences back to the Beatles. But today I’ll be taking a look at a song that has always made me wonder exactly what they were thinking when they included it on the album. And I’ll probably never understand it unless I somehow get my hands on some LSD.

Ladies, gentlemen, and everyone else who stumbled across this blog while searching for something completely different… I give you “Wild Honey Pie.”

The White Album is perhaps the Beatles’ most experimental work by far. Some of their best songs can be found on this album, including my favorite Beatles song ever (“Helter Skelter,” in case you’re curious). Some of their weirdest songs can be found here as well, including perhaps their most infamous piece ever, the eight-minute avant-garde sample collage known as “Revolution 9,” a song so weird that Paul McCartney and George Martin (the Beatles’ producer) didn’t even think the Beatles, the most openly experimental band in popular music, could get away with releasing something like that.

To be honest, my biggest problem with “Revolution 9” isn’t that it was so… I don’t know… weird. My problem with it is that it’s just too damn long. Eight minutes of white noise is a lot to sit through. Still, it’s a pretty cool idea, I guess. I doubt I’d be able to sit through a whole album of songs like “Revolution 9,” but as a one-off it kind of works in its own unique, twisted little way.

No, my least favorite song on The White Album is “Wild Honey Pie,” which oddly enough clocks in at just under a minute in length. I can still remember the first time I listened to this, and all I could really say in reaction at the time was “What the hell am I listening to?” It’s one of those songs that just sounds like they were goofing off in the studio one day (after doing lots of drugs, of course — I mean, it was the ’60s). And that’s perfectly fine. I’m just not really sure how they found a place for it on any of their albums.

(Please note that this song is not to be confused with another Beatles song called “Honey Pie,” which incidentally can be found on Disc 2 of The White Album just to confuse the crap out of people.)

I mean, consider the following: “Hey Jude” was and still is one of the Beatles’ greatest songs. It was released as a 7″ single and never featured on any of their studio albums (the album Hey Jude was a compilation of B-sides and non-album singles, so it doesn’t technically count). Yet they apparently didn’t have the heart to let a 53-second twangy acoustic tune with oddball voices repeating the phrase “HONEY PIIIIIIIIIIE” over and over again stay on the cutting room floor. Sometimes life just isn’t fair.

I leave you now with something I came up with back in 11th grade that you may or may not find amusing.

Dear Prudence,

We’re back in the USSR, looking through a glass onion and learning how to say “ob-la-di, ob-la-da” in Russian. We’ve been eating wild honey pie and listening to the continuing story of Bungalow Bill while my guitar gently weeps.

Martha my dear, happiness is a warm gun. Oh wait… your name is actually Prudence. Sorry about that. I’m so tired these days that sometimes I even forget my own name. Sometimes people call me Blackbird. Other times I answer to Piggies. But most of the time I go by Rocky Raccoon.

In closing, Julia, don’t pass me by. Why don’t we do it in the road? No one will be watching us.

(I WILL!)

Um… Paul sends his love.

Sincerely yours, John.

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One response

  1. colfrat

    UPDATE: Fun fact for you all — Entertainment Weekly recently named “Wild Honey Pie” the second-worst Beatles song of all time.

    Their number one choice was, inexplicably, “All You Need Is Love.” I guess “Revolution 9” was just too conventional a choice, huh?

    September 4, 2009 at 8:48 pm

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