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Octopus's Garden by The Beatles

Album: Abbey RoadReleased: 1969
  • Along with "Don't Pass Me By," this was one of two songs Ringo Starr wrote for The Beatles. It came about when Ringo left The White Album sessions in 1968 and went on a boating trip with his family in Sardina. The boat's captain offered him an octopus lunch, but he turned it down. It was then that the captain began to tell him everything he knew about octopuses, and how they travel along the sea bed looking for shiny objects and stones with which to build gardens. Ringo thought about how tranquil it would be to live down there amongst your friends in the calm waters - the opposite of the chaos and internecine conflict he was going through with The Beatles. With this idea, he wrote the song about living in the octopus's garden.

    Ringo did return to his post for The White Album, discovering his drum kit covered with flowers to welcome him back (George Harrison's idea). The Beatles completed that album and later included "Octopus's Garden" on Abbey Road.
  • This is one of the most kid-friendly Beatles songs. Ringo sang lead, as he did on some of the lighter Beatles songs, including "Yellow Submarine" and "Act Naturally." His voice is very appealing to children, as demonstrated in his later voiceover work on Thomas the Tank Engine.
  • George Harrison helped Ringo write this during the Let It Be sessions. They are seen working on it in the movie Let It Be - George rewrote the chord sequence.
  • Ringo made the underwater sounds by blowing bubbles through a glass of water.
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Comments: 65

If you ever get the chance, listen to the outtake version of this song on Anthology 3. Ringo does not have all the words down yet, but the musical arrangement is there. And what I LOVE about this song is how easily you can hear all 4 instruments playing and gelling together on this track. This particular take was recorded in April, 1969, and this band is TIGHT and playing together very well! John plays a classic jangly rhythm guitar. George's lead shimmers beautifully, and Paul's bass happily bounces around Ringo's drumming. Again... a really tight band!Oscar - Boston, Nh
I agree with Justin, "this song is a veiled reference to sex", but not in the "hookers" part. It's free love, swingers, "bob & carol & ted & alice"Bruno - Lima, Peru
I like the Beatles Love versionJim - Hammond, In
Chomper2011, Honesdale,, PA -

John and Paul fired Best not for being too good, but for being too conceited. They were sick of his attitude.
Bob - Schenectady, Ny
This song was also sang by the Muppets on one of the episodes of The Muppet Show.. In the episode, Kermit ( or Scooter ) is swimming around underwater, singing ; while Miss Piggy is sitting on some rocks, dressed like a mermaid and singing.Chomper2011 - Honesdale,, Pa
In a interview for the BBC ( heard on the cassette and CD "The Beatles - Live At the BBC" ), when The Beatles were still popular ; a letter was read to the Fab Four from one of their fans that was read outloud: " 'We like you boys, and we think your songs are great; but we still haven't heard a word from Ringo' ( John is heard making barking noises like a dog in the background ) .. Would you like to say something?" .. (Ringo begins to speak) Ringo: "Hello Kitties! ..I like to sing you a song called 'Matchbox'. There we go!..(talking is going on in the background) Well, don't get cocky with me..." Then he begins to play the drums and solo sing the song. ( You can hear him sing the song at youtube or any of the music sites).Chomper2011 - Honesdale,, Pa
Ringo's real name is Richard Starsky..He is called 'Ringo', because he wears alot of ringson his fingers...Before Ringo joined the Beatles, he was a drummer and member of another popular british rock band : " Rory Storm & The Hurricanes"..Ringo was the first Beatle to ever visit the United States (he used to performed on some of the military bases)..He replaced Pete Best (the original Beatles drummer) after John and Paul fired Pete for being too good.Chomper2011 - Honesdale,, Pa
I love how innocent and happy Ringo is. When the rest of the Beatles where writing, deep, meaningful songs about the meaning of life and what not, he was just happy banging on his drums in an Octopus's Garden. And this song is really good for someone who never wrote songs.Addie - Portland, Mi
@ Justin, Pittsgrove, NJ
How does the line "Oh what joy for every girl and boy Knowing they're happy and they're safe" fit into your crazy sex interpretation of this song?
David - Petaluma, Ca
Why did they not let Ringo perform more songs? He was as much as a genius!Freddy - Miami, Fl
Dan, from Lee, NH, that's a very stupid remark. Ringo's not stupid. He's just as good as Paul, George, and John, he just has a different style.Mr. Morozov - Fremont, Ne
I'm sorry Justin from Pittsgrove, NJ, but that's the stupidest thing I've ever heard.

Anyway, this song is just great. Ringo's my favorite Beatle, he makes good stuff.
Mr. Morozov - Fremont, Ne
Heres to the first man who made singing while playing drumms popular! as a singing drummer, i thank you Ringo.Nick - Seattle, Albania
I can't believe after 100 comments no one has suggested this song is a veiled reference to sex. Octopus is a vagina and the garden is the bushy pubes around it. He's talking about playing around in dark caves and bringing his friends. It might even be able sex with hookers who sleep with everyone. "resting our heads under the sea beds..." That's a bit blatant.Justin - Pittsgrove, Nj
Children's singer Raffi does a cover of this that's pretty good.Linc - Beaumont, Tx
Ringo Also Sings With a Little Help.Linc - Beaumont, Tx
Our teacher made us learn this song in reception (I think you call it First Grade in USA) I love it, it jus reminds me of when I was real little.Nady - Adelaide, Australia
HAPPY 68th BIRTHDAY RINGO! and in response to comments below, all 4 Beatles are credited to writing "Dig It" as wellRosario - Naples, Fl
I love George's guitar on this song, especially at the end. It's a good song. I like it :)Megan - Shineonyoucrazydiamonds, Fl
*gasp* Why has nobody said this song is about drugs? It's not, but I'm surprised SOMEBODY hasn't said that yet.
- Peter Griffin, Quahog, RI This song is about DRUGS and the EVIL that comes along with the taking and selling of DRUGS (j/k)
Bender - East West Virginia, Va
this is nothing like yellow submarine. they r both dreamy fun songs, and both amazing! paul and john wouldnt laugh behind his back, they love each other. the other three band members sent many telegrams and postcard s to ringo saying how much they loved him and he was the best drummer ever. also, when he returned from where he went and wrote this song, george had his drums and the studio decorated with flowers! the four beatles r all equally, funny, clever amazing, talented and imaginative.Catherine - Essex, United Kingdom
This is my favorite song from the Beatles, and I practically grew up with it. Whenever I'm feeling sad or down, here is Ringo's reassuring voice singing about just what I feel. He's always been my favorite Beatle.Maddie - Arlington, Va
Just listen to how he sings "Oh what joy for every girl and boy knowing they're happy and they're safe" and tell me Ringo was not great.Forrest - Rochester, Mn
*gasp* Why has nobody said this song is about drugs? It's not, but I'm surprised SOMEBODY hasn't said that yet.Peter Griffin - Quahog, Ri
this is good stuff. not in the top 10 best Beatles songs, but certainly in the top 20. Ringo is a genius, as were all of the Beatles.Simon - Chattanooga , Tn
If you notice on the back of Abbey Road were all the songs are listed you see that it's spelled "Octopuses" Garden. not "Octopus's" Garden.Bianca Sanchez - Alburquerque, Nm
I heard Clapton played on this one too.Brian - Portage, Mi
This so good. Ringo was and is such an creative person.Krissy - Boston, Ma
I also love the guitar work in this song. I'm assuming George played the solos...does anyone know anything to the contrary?Scotty - Cheyenne, Wy
Ringo's voice on here is generally great - except for one note near the beginning (the word "garden" in the first line is seriously flat). I wonder why George and Giles Martin didn't electronically correct that on the "LOVE" remix (by subtle use of tape speed)?Michael - Oxford, England
Ringo's got a prettyful voice! This is a great toe-tappin song!Krista - Elyria, Oh
my kindergarten teacher used to make us dance to this song. after a little while(like, three days of dancing to it for a half hour every day) we all got sick of it(except the teacher), and i've just recently started liking it againIzzy - Buffalo, Ny
This really shows everyone that Ringo CAN sing. You could see how much better and more confident he's gotten in his voice by this one. To me, much better than early vocals like "What Goes On". And I love the guitaring and the backing vocals. Makes you feel like you're underwater.Cameron - Bainsville, Canada
ian, lethbridge, canada, you have made my day. everyone is saying that ringo had a bad voice, but i really like his voice, even though i disagree with you about the song-writing. i mean, how many songs have YOU written lately? let me guess...NONE! so back off of ringo, you're just jealous of his amazing musicianry and his lyrical talents. and, the reason that never wrote any of the songs was because the other beatles wouldn't let him write songs.Izzy - Buffalo, Ny
this song makes me want to go swimming ;) I think it imagery is really good, and that it just makes you happy. I can just imagine an octopus standing at a gate, and behind him a garden, while me, ringo, paul, george, and john are swimming towards itIzzy - Buffalo, Ny
However, none of the Beatles were expendable. The combination of John, Paul George and Ringo made THE best loved, most successful, most respected, most admired, most revolutionary and innovative music of the 1960s. Even today, the Beatles are most often the standard by which other bands are judged (be it unfair or not). The Beatles WERE the Beatles (though many, many others tried to be and wished to be and dreamed of being). But it was just the precise combination of these four individuals (five, really, if you count George Martin who I think truly deserves to be included) who actually WERE the Beatles. I believe that any change in the band (even if you believe it to be a minor change, say substituting Pete Best for Ringo) would have altered the mix of personalities and talents so much that we would not be discussing them now. The success of the Beatles was not due to the individual talents of the group members. It was how well these individual talents harmonized within the group. To borrow a little from Paul's Ebony and Ivory, if you play one of the black keys and one of the white keys together it sounds like crap(!), but if you play different combinations of four keys together, eventually you'll find four that sound great together - VOILA!THAT'S THE BEATLES. Now use just three of those notes and add a different note. It may still sound good (maybe it's the Who or the Kinks) but it's no longer the Beatles. Okay, class dismissed!Joe - Lethbridge, Canada
Every Beatles album had a song featuring Ringo on vocals. Early on they were cover songs, including "Act Naturally" which they recorded for no other reason than to give Ringo something to sing. Later on they actually wrote songs for him to sing, and finally let him take a turn at writing his own. As a solo artist he also wrote a couple of his own hits. When he released "Photograph" it did extremely well and Lennon, who hadn't had a hit in a while, sent him a telegram that said, "Congratulations. How dare you? And please write me a hit song."Dennis - Anchorage, Ak
Just so y'all don't get confused, this is my 4th post. The 1st one is at the bottom, the 2nd is at the top, and the 3rd is below the 2nd. Songfacts doesn't always put the posts in order.Ian - Lethbridge, Canada
Okay, another thing I forget to say about Ringo. Although I think that the very best Beatles songs are by John, Paul, or George, I still think Ringo has the same AVERAGE of good songs that the other three have. What I mean by that is that I think John, Paul, and George have all written the worst Beatles songs. Happiness Is A Warm Gun and Why Don't We Do It In The Road? are my two least favourite Beatles songs of all time. I don't actually hate them, but they're my least favourites. Ringo hasn't written any songs that I hold in low respect (or at least none that I've heard). And really, when you think about it, is asking people for help with writing songs really a bad thing? I don't think so anymore. At least he still gets the job done. And at least he isn't too stubborn to ask for help, which is what will help keep him humble. I Me Mine will never apply to him as long as he doesn't let fame get to his head. And even if he isn't as good at songwriting as John, Paul, and George, he's no less important as a person. Mick Jagger and Keith Richards seem to be the only Rolling Stones most people know about, but everyone knows who all the Beatles are, which means that they're all important, and that's why they will always be the greatest band ever! ROCK ON BEATLES!Ian - Lethbridge, Canada
Okay, I need to change my statement about Ringo here. When I said that I thought Ringo wrote songs as good as John, Paul, and George, I wasn't all that familiar with who wrote which songs. I just knew that all four of them all had classics I liked, so I assumed that all of them were equally good. After checking the songwriting credits on Ringo's albums and songs, I saw that either he was doing a cover of a song, or he was co-writing a song with someone else. This is one of the few songs credited to him alone. Now that I know this, I do not consider Ringo to be as good a songwriter as John, Paul, and George. Ringo just isn't really an independent songwriter like the other three, so of course he's not as good. Also, when I think of my very all-time top 10 Beatles songs, they are either Lennon/McCartney or Harrison compositions, and they'd probably be within the 1967-1970 period. I certainly think that Ringo's songs are just as good as the 1962-1966 Lennon/McCartney classics (Can't Buy Me Love, Please Please Me, A Hard Day's Night, etc.), but I don't think he really matches up to songs like Yer Blues, Blackbird, Long Long Long, and all those good, horribly underated masterpieces, though I still think Ringo is horribly underated as a songwriter. I mean, come on, he friggin' wrote Octopus's Garden and It Don't Come Easy! I think that's quite an achievement, don't you?

Now I know some people aren't very fond of his singing voice, but I think it's excellent! It has a nice deep, distinct tone. I think he's a better singer than John and George, but he's not as good as Paul, whom I consider to be the greatest singer in the world!
Ian - Lethbridge, Canada
I think Ringo is just as good a songwriter as John, Paul, and George! His singing voice is just as good as well, especially in this song! I love this song!Ian - Lethbridge, Canada
This and With a Little Help From My Friends are the best Ringo songs, in my opinion.Lauren - Some Place, De
Alright I probably should have said that Ringo's role was not as a songwriter.Dan - Lee, Nh
Tyler that's true about the records going to number, but John's record was still better. Come on Imagine versus Ringo's dinky record.Dan - Lee, Nh
Didn't George's first solo record go to #1?

Ringo is my favourite Beatle. I love everything he did with The Beatles, especially when he sang. His voice kicks ass. He sings "Yellow Submarine", "Don't Pass Me By", "With a Little Help From My Friends" and "Octopuss' Garden"(That's how it should be spelled, not how he spelled it) and those are some of my favourites.

Also, he didn't just write two Beatles song. He wrote a song with John and Paul called "what Goes On"
Warrinder - A Town, Canada
that is a real ignorant thing to say....Out of all the Beatles' first solo records only RINGO's solo record went to #1. Ringo's not stupid. His songs are lighter and bubbley for a reason. His image is different than the rest of them. It was what made him unique.Tyler - Brantford, Canada
I highly doubt that Ringo wrote all this. I mean come on guys he writes one song (Please don't correct me I don't mean it litterally) and it seems to be on par with all the other Beatles songs. And I don't mean to discredit Ringo, but he's kind of stupid.Dan - Lee, Nh
This song is a kid's song, and it brings out the kid in me.Lee - Clearwater, Fl
Are you kidding? All the Beatles were funny!Stefanie Magura - Rock Hill, Sc
This is the song I put on when I'm in a bad mood because I can't help but laugh and dance everytime I hear it. Oh Ringo.Meredith - Mechanicsburg, Pa
I absolutely love this song! its whimsical and fun! In my opinion Ringo is by far the BEST Beatle! He is cute and funny and the other beatles dont have the charm and personality that Ringo hasMaureen - London, England
The intro part of this song is so fantastic!Geir T. - Umeå, Sweden
there's a quote from him from this song in the montery bay aquarium. "i'd like to be under the sea In a octupus's garden in the shade."Chicken - Lala Land, Ca
This song is considered a childrens songAsh - Cary, Nc
what a fun silly song! I love it!Stefanie Magura - Rock Hill, Sc
Whenever I hear the bubbling noise I always think someones hitting a bong.Paul - Raleigh, Nc
He also sang, a great song for me,: "With a little help from my friends"Federico - La Coruña, Spain
John and Paul would giggle (behind Ringo's back) about the fact that Ringo had re-written "Yellow Submarine". Since Ringo was promised one track per LP and by now wanted to write his own songs, they let him do it.Ken - Louisville, Ky
Ringo was also a co-writer of "Flying" from Magical Mystery Tour. This was an instrumental, the only one credited to all four Beatles until, I believe, "Free as a Bird." By the way, the island is spelled Sardinia, not Sardina.Alan - City, Mi
There is a flash cartoon to this song at www.starterupsteve.com. But lately the link hasn't been working. If anyone finds another site with this cartoon on it could you post it here. Thanks.Josh - Plainview, Ny
I love when George is helping Ringo with the song. He has a look of almost fatherly love on his face.David - Waco, Tx
Actually, it's technically one of THREE that Ringo wrote. He co-wrote What Goes On with Paul and John. Check the label!Matt - Saugus, Ma
The "boat's captain" was actually Peter Sellers who told Ringo about the Octopuses' gardens, and he also worked with Ringo on "The Magic Christian," co-written by John Cleese and Graham Chapman, who would later work on Monty PythonMike - London, England
i thought it was more about getting away from the press and the pressure of being a beatle than getting away from the other Beatles.Catherine - Glasgow, England
Ringo wasnt getting along with the band when he wrote the song as well...they were on a boat off the coast of italy near Sardina (also Italy)....he said in an interview he wish he could just get away from the rest of the band members...an octpus's garden didnt sound bad at all to him....Nate - Mt Holly Springs, Pa
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