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Baby You're A Rich Man by The Beatles

Album: Magical Mystery TourReleased: 1967Charted:
34
  • This song is about how everybody can have the things that matter, and it has nothing to do with material possessions. The Beatles were rich, but they claimed that money was not that important to them.
  • John Lennon and Paul McCartney wrote parts of this separately and combined it to make one song - something they would repeat on "A Day In The Life." At one point, the song was called "One Of The Beautiful People."
  • The trumpet-like sound at the beginning is a clavioline, an amplified keyboard that acted as a crude synthesizer. Other songs that used a clavoline include "Telstar" by The Tornados and "Runaway" by Del Shannon.
  • It was rumored that The Beatles sang "Baby you're a rich fag Jew" as a slur to their manager, Brian Epstein. He was rich, gay and Jewish, but The Beatles never said this was about him. Epstein died later in that year when he overdosed on sleeping pills.
  • The Beatles started working on this song with the intention of using it on the Yellow Submarine soundtrack. It was used in the 1968 movie, but didn't appear on the soundtrack.
  • Mick Jagger sang backup. McCartney and Lennon returned the favor by singing on The Stones' "We Love You."
  • Brian Jones, the guitarist from The Rolling Stones, played an oboe on this. A few years earlier, Lennon and McCartney gave The Stones a song called "I Wanna Be Your Man," which was one of their first hits, and helped convince Mick Jagger and Keith Richards that they should write their own songs.
  • This was released as the B-side of "All You Need Is Love."
  • Lennon played clavioline and piano on the song and George Harrison played tambourine. There is actually no guitar on this song at all. Paul played bass and piano as well.
  • This was released in mono, but in 1971 it was remixed in stereo along with several other tracks for a German version of Magical Mystery Tour. The stereo version is the one that is now the most common. (thanks, Bertrand - Paris, France)
  • The comedy rap trio The Fat Boys performed this song in their 1987 movie Disorderlies.
  • In 2010, this song was used at the end of the movie The Social Network to punctuate the raging financial success of the guys who invented Facebook. It was one of the few Beatles songs licensed to a movie in its original form, meaning the Beatles version was used. Apple Corp. is very particular about where Beatles songs are used.
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Comments: 56

Always thought the album this came from MMT was their best, better than White and Sgt. P's.Tony - San Diego, Ca
The brown bag was the money they collected from promoters when they were on tour so they didn't have to pay taxes on it. The promoters paid them under the table. Read The Love You make by Peter Brown, Brian's assistant. When The Beatles were on tour,they probably felt like they were in a zoo.Steve - Carthage, Nc
The brown paper bag is about the money The Beatles collected under the table when they were on tour. Actually Brian collected the brown bag money from promoters. They paid a lot in taxes. I read this in The Love You Make by Brian's assistant, Peter Brown, He's the Peter Brown in The ballad of John and Yoko.Steve - Carthage, Nc
Bravo to those who know what this song is about. Though Paul and John wrote their parts separately, it was meant as a tribute to their manager, Brian Epstein. John's "Beautiful People" verses were meant as a "tip of the hat" to Brian for finally dropping acid. The questions John raises in the verses, such as, "How often have you been there?" and "What did you see when you were there?" are roughly equivalent to Jimi Hendrix's "Are You Experienced?" It IS a drug song, but only in the sense that the LSD experience is implied. As for Paul's chorus, Brian WAS a "rich man", and "too" refers to the Beatles themselves. Google "Brian Epstein money brown bag" and you'll discover that there were occasions when Brian carried money in a brown bag. As for John singing "rich fag Jew" near the fade, it was meant as a punctuation to the song, just in case Brian had any doubts the song was about him. If you take the time to read what was going on in their lives at the time and create a timeline, it wil all make sense.Jeff - Orlando, Fl
Re the "rich, fag jew" line: This refers to ONE instance, during the fadeout of the song, after John and Paul have sung it correctly a couple times. It's the instance where it sounds like both of them are laughing while they're singing, and it was clearly meant as a "dig", but a humorous dig, to Brian Epstein, who hadn't died yet when they recorded the song.Tom - Phoenix, Az
OMG PEOPLE. Not every Beatles song is about drugs! (I'm talking to you, Justin from Laury!) Day Tripper and She Said She Said are about LSD. That's all. Eve Lucy isn't about LSD!K - Nowhere, On
95% of the people here don't understand what the Beatles, or John Lennon in particular, were about. Google John Lennon's 1980 Playboy interview and read it. It's available for free. If you want the Cliff Notes version, skip to the last three responses he gives in the interview. His lyrics in this song epitomize what he was about. These lyrics are among the most beautiful that John Lennon has ever written. The "Beautiful People" are people who have become self-aware, and are at peace with their relationship to the world. This song is about those people who have come into harmony with the world, and understand that they can have anything they want, do anything they want, accomplish anything they want, simply by making a positive effort, rather than fighting and resisting the negativity of the world around them. To that extent, a self-aware person is an exceedingly rich person, in a non-materialistic sense, and Paul McCartney's lyrics about being a rich man tie in with John Lennon's portion of the song. But otherwise you could throw McCartney's lyrics out. They don't stand up on their own in the way that John Lennon's do.Cristian - Santiago, Chile
Wow. To the people saying it was about John's hate/anger at Brian, thats FALSE. I'm pretty sure John did sing "baby you're a rich fag jew" because that was just his humor. He picked on people's features when he was younger like most guys do. Just watch Hard Day's Night or read his books for insight on his humor. But that doesn't mean he was unconformable with Brian in fact John loved Brian as a friend and and got along extremely well with him. John even went as far to say that it was an intense relationship that was never consummated. I think this song can be taken as sarcastic "yeah how does it feel to fit in?" or just honest of "how does it feel to be in tune with the world? Awesome right?!"Sadie - Atlanta, Ga
The person playing the synth on the intro is noneother than Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones.Reed - New Ulm, Mn
Around 1967, the term "beautiful people" was invented to describe rich, young hippie pretenders. In his book "Shout" Philip Norman said that is what Brian Epstein was like in the last few months of his life. He started wearing hippie clothes instead of suits, increased his drug intake and grew his hair. John Lennon supposedly noticed that, and asks him, in this song "How does it feel to be one of the "beautiful people"?Ken - Louisville, Ky
If you read about Brian Epstein's first contract he gave them. He didn't sign the contract, meaning he could just leave at any time, he also gave himself a 25% cut, which is more than double the norm. So did he want money? Maybe. But the thing is, this continued on, during the Beatles' career.Zach - Farfarl, Ca
Nicholas Cage said that when he was a kid in the back seat of his Uncle Francis Ford Coppola's car when Coppola was driving, BABY YOU'RE A RICH MAN came on the radio. This was just after Coppola started making a ton of money from the Godfather films, and the song underscored for Cage how intimidating Coppola's new wealth made him, and Nicholas hoped he'd be rich and famous, too, one day.Susan - Toronto, Canada
Love the Song. Long Live The Beatles! even if half of them are dead and they broke up.Bianca Sanchez - Alburquerque, Nm
95% of the people here don't understand what the Beatles, or John Lennon in particular, were about. Google John Lennon's 1980 Playboy interview and read it. It's available for free. If you want the Cliff Notes version, skip to the last three responses he gives in the interview. His lyrics in this song epitomize what he was about. These lyrics are among the most beautiful that John Lennon has ever written. The "Beautiful People" are people who have become self-aware, and are at peace with their relationship to the world. This song is about those people who have come into harmony with the world, and understand that they can have anything they want, do anything they want, accomplish anything they want, simply by making a positive effort, rather than fighting and resisting the negativity of the world around them. To that extent, a self-aware person is an exceedingly rich person, in a non-materialistic sense, and Paul McCartney's lyrics about being a rich man tie in with John Lennon's portion of the song. But otherwise you could throw McCartney's lyrics out. They don't stand up on their own in the way that John Lennon's do.Anonymous
I believe this song is clearly about LSD. "One of the beautiful people" refers to people who take LSD, supported by the fact that "At one of the sites of the Manson Family murders, the killers wrote "How does it feel to be one of the beautiful people?"" (Thanks Bill). The Manson Family were frequent LSD users. "Now that you know who you are, what do you want to be?" is a reference to LSD's spiritualistic qualities. "How often have you been there? Often enough to know" --> i.e. the Beatles dropped a lot of acid. All of the insulting references to the manager could have been a side joke, but not the main point of the song. The line, "You keep all your money in a big brown bag inside a zoo" is the only puzzling line, but I believe that could probably also be explained by the acid. Lastly, "now that you've found another key, what are you going to play" refers to a new perspective that LSD gave the Beatles. I know the Beatles were a pop band and they don't mention drugs in interviews too much, but just listen to the album and watch the movie. The answers are more obvious then they appear.Justin - Luray, Va
Nick, there is bass (clearly) but there is guitar as well. In the verse.Joey R - Boston, Ma
In the Book 'The Beatles Forever' by Nicolas Schaffner he believed the song was written for Brian Epstien. His book published in the 1970's was the first in my mind to comment how one line would sound like 'big fat jew'. I believe over time this may have been exaggerated into big fag jew.Jim - Lancaster, Ca
I meant John :).Cristina - Santiago, Chile
Didn't john say this was about themselves having turned into "one of the beautiful people", that is people with money?.Cristina - Santiago, Chile
The Rolling Stones were very good friends with and big fans of The Beatles. And Mick Jagger was at 4 Beatles recording sessions and Keith Richards was at 2 of them with him. Mick Jagger came to just stand on the sidelines and watch and listen to them recording Baby You're A Rich Man in May 1967. His name is also on the tape box because he might have sang at the end verses.Lucyinthesky - Philadelphia, Pa
The bass is actually partly muted in this song. Also there is backward piano that is faded in and out during the song a technique they used quite a bit with backward instruments. The song features Indian sounding keyboards and also the bass is very upfront on this song.Joe - Montvale, Nj
That's not a muted guitar, it's a Bass. a Rickenbacker to be precise. very punchy.Nick - Moncton, Canada
One could miss it being played in Yellow Submarine for two reasons: first, the intro is played at the same time the bubble deflates. If you're not paying attention, you'd think it's just the sound of the bubble deflating. Second, the tune sounds almost faint, and only lasts for about five seconds. Not exactly enough time to really recognize it as the intro to "Baby..." unless you're tuned in.Patrick - Tallapoosa, Ga
This song was a result of Lennon's homophobia. He struggled to come to terms
with his sexuality and eventually "experimented" in the sack with manager
Brian Epstein. Afterwards, Lennon felt guilty for engaging in sexual
activity with another man. This only served to cause Lennon to harbor great
resentment toward Epstein. He began insinuating that Epstein wasn't doing a
proper job and was perhaps even stealing from the Beatles. The zoo mentioned
in the song referred to Epstein's favorite gay nightclub, called The Zoo.
Zoloft - Milton, Wv
I love this tune, especially paul's bass line. He's a very creative man. I dind't knew that Mick Jagger was in this songJoseph - Bs. As., Argentina
He doesn't say it.
What someone heard was that those were the song's "original words". But that's incorrect. They were NOT the original words. It was just John Lennon clowning around on an early take that has no doubt been thrown out in the trash. But someone recalled it in an interview about 30 years ago, and the story has since been stretched out of recognizable form.
Dirk - Nashville, Tn
I can't hear Lennon say "Rich fag jew," when does he say it exactley?Warrinder - A Town, Canada
At one of the sites of the Manson Family murders, the killers wrote "How does it feel to be one of the beautiful people?" in blood on the victim's door. Charlie Manson was very influenced by the Beatles, and believed they were the four angels mentioned in Revelations.Bill - Erie, Pa
The important thing, maybe, is that they didn't actually record the "rich fag Jew" line, Lennon was just snorting around with it in the studio. Lennon was warped. We blame it on the drugs now, but he was warped long before he discovered LSD. He was constantly distorting lyrics and saying nonsensical things. The beginning of Get Back on the original Let It Be album: "Sweet Loretta Martin thought she was a woman, but she was a frying pan." ...I mean, what kind of brain was this guy playing with? Should anybody be surprised he was sitting there in the studio poking one of his best friends in the ribs singing "Baby, you're a rich fag Jew"...?Dirk - Nashville, Tn
This was two songs connected together. It's an ok song for me, but doesn't work as well as A Day in the Life, obviously. I think I like the John part and the Paul part by themselves better than I like them together. Still it's better than most other group's B sides.Steve - Fenton, Mo
hey john, i agree with you but i just got Bob Spitz's new book and in there it says engineers in the session said lennon did takes where he DID utter the rich fag jew rant and also ripped into mccartney and jagger, who was in visiting during the session.Pepper - Virginia Beach, Va
the whole "baby your a rich fag jew" thing is not only untrue but makes little sense. Though john loved teasing him about his sexuality brian epstein was there friend and would of died to protect them, therefore meaning the beatles would have had to be very ungrateful to sing that in a songJohn - Woburn, Ma
Half the song was about Brian Epstine, but it wasn't a slam of any kind. Brian was feeling left out of the group as the Beatles were not touring anymore and they really didn't need him like in the past. The song was more or less saying that you are just as successful as the rest of us and still needed.Stsjfsd - Denver, Co
There's a very obvious muted guitar in it.Keith - Warren, Mi
I love this song. Very cool!Sylvia - London, England
- aidan, seatle, WY>
I want to know who doesn't think the beatles are popular and who ever gave the impression that people dont like them they still have albums go gold even through their the same songs. where do people get the ideas that the worlds against them.
Dave - Pittsburg, Pa
I don't know either luna. Beats me.Stefanie - Rock Hill, Sc
It doesn't sound at all like "rich fag jew". I don't know why some of you think that.Luna - London, England
Damn, Ben, You hate it. I cant imagine mustering up such severe feelings over a song. Calm down, smoke a joint.Lee - Clearwater, Fl
I must be the only person on earth never to have seen a Beatles movie!Nathan - Defiance, Oh
First of all, it's not about getting high. The brown paper bag lyric is a reference to the way Brian Epstein would prefer to receive payment for live appearances. Also, fag not only meant cigarette, but was also slang for a gay person even in Liverpool. Besides calling Brian "queer" it is well documented that John Lennon at least referred to him as a "fag" and Lennon also refers to Mick Jagger's live show movements as "fag dancing" and I don't think he meant "cigarette dancing".Art - Nyc, Ny
I hate it.Ben - Cheverly, Md
On the "Rich fag Jew" comments: Would a Brit use the word "fag" to mean a gay person? In British slang, a fag is a cigarette, as evidenced by the Kinks' "Well Respected Man" (He likes his fags the best). I wonder if fag meaning gay is purely American slang and the misunderstanding of the lyric is an Americaninsm that would be lost on a British person.Jay - New York, Ny
Ah, yes, Yellow Submarine. I noticed this song in there; I don't know how one could miss it.

Random: Blue Meanies T-shirts rock. :)
Chiaki - Nagoya, Japan
And One thing is fore sure: It DOES sound like "Baby you're a rich fag Jew", alright!Takashi - Tokyo, Japan
I got the YELLOW SUB movie and People have been complaining that the part where this song plays is cut out of the DVD but it's NOT!!! It plays when they rescue the Sgt. Pepper band from the bubble the blue meanies trapped them in. I loved the movie.Takashi - Tokyo, Japan
I think the line about 'a natural E' (not: 'A matural E') refers to beginning bands because songs in E are the easiest to learn on the guitar. In the Anthology video Paul talks about the day when he and George and John travelled all the way across Liverpool to meet a guy who knew the chord B7, 'the lost chord', because B7 is the so called dominant chord in the key of E, which resolves to E at the end of a phrase. So apparently in those days they were still learning to play in E.Martijn - Helmond, Netherlands
I certainly won't defend The Monkees being as good as the Beatles, but I must correct a couple of people here. Michael and Peter were musicians and did in fact play instruments and wrote songs prior to being picked for the Monkees. Mickey and Davey were both actors. Once they had to perform live Mickey did in fact learn to play drums. Mickey also went on to write songs on his own, including "Randy Scouse Git" which is pretty damn creative! The finest of all the Monkees albums in my oppinion was Headquarters over which they had complete creative control. Every part on Headquarters was performed by the Monkees, or if they could not play a specific instrument, the desired part was dictated to the musician for hire.Steven - San Gabriel, Ca
Epstein certainly wouldn't have robbed the boys, but sadly his business acumen was not great and he sold rights worth millions for a fraction of their value when the Beatles cracked America -
And isn't 'All You Need Is Cash' a Rutles song?
Pete - Sheerness, Ca
randy from texas, i hope you're kidding about the monkee's. not only did they not write they own music, but there voices were'nt even that great. and the only guy that had the slightess musical talent was the lead singer, i forget hisname. that's an insult!Sal - Ny, Ny
None of the Beatles cared about money, least of all george. And their manager, Brian Epstien, would never "rob them blind". He was good friends of the beatles and their families, and would never do anything like that to them. He was taking payment obviously, but the beatles deceded how much to pay him, he didn't. Their publisher, george martin, also would never rob them, he was, and is, souch a nice friend and was paul's best friend, if it wasn't lennon. Alfred, you are completly insane and have no clue what you are talking about. Please keep your mindless babbaling to yourself in the future. Second thing. Randy, you should NEVER compare a band like "the monkees" with the Beatles. And the word KEY obviously refers to the musical mterm of key, sience the previous line says, "turned to a natural E". Robert, you are just insane. how can you even compare this with a drug song. If you listen to their drug songs, there is at least somr hint of drugs in ther lyrics. I can see how "strawberry Fields" or "I Am The Walrus" can be mistaken for drug songs; but this isn't even close.Anonymous
Randy: you can't even compare the monkees to the Beatles. The Monkees were a novelty band and a studio creation who didn't even write songs or play instruments.Shirley - Ocean, Nj
When the sixties ended, George Harrison admitted that the Beatles had always thought about money (especially when they learned how their manager and publisher were robbing them blind, at least by today's standards) and that "All You Need is Cash" would have better described the rules of the game. The lyrics to "Baby You're a Rich Man" suggest some self-reflection on the part of Lennon-McCartney as to the Beatles privledged status as young, rich, musical, self-satisfied, and members of the "beautiful people" set.Alfred - Washington, Dc
This is used in the movie "Yellow Submarine" in the scene where the Lads rescue the original Sgt. Pepper and his band from the blue glass bubble the Blue Meanies encased them in. The band is heard playing the intro to the song as the bubble deflates.Patrick - Conyers, Ga
I think the song is about getting high. In those days pot was sometimes sold in brown paper bags. The rest is self explanitory...if you know what I mean.Robert - Conyers, Ga
I've always thought that this was a jab at the bands that started up as a result of the Beatles' success. The "mopheads" (yes, I am an original Beatlemanic) worked hard at it and some of these bands, although some did give us pretty good music (like the Monkee's maybe).. they were mostly a product of record companies and producers who wanted the quick buck. Therefore the lyric "... Now that you've found another KEY, what are you going to play?...."Randy - Beaumont, Tx