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Cry Baby Cry by The Beatles

Album: The White AlbumReleased: 1968
  • The lyrics were inspired by nursery rhymes and the songs Donovan was writing: Donovan's songs were "fairy tale" like. Donovan states, "I think the eventual imagery was suggested by my own songs of fairy tales. We had become very close in exchanging musical vibes." The song was based in part by two nursery rhymes, "Sing A Song Of Sixpence" and "Cry, baby, cry...stick a finger in your eye...etc."
  • John Lennon said he got the title for the song from an advertisement. The original line from that advertisement was, "Cry, baby cry. Make your mother buy." John told Hunter Davies (the Beatles official biographer) "I've got another (song) here, a few words, I think I got them from an advert - 'Cry baby cry, Make your mother buy.' I've been playing it over on the piano. I've let it go now. It'll come back if I really want it." >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Adrian - Wilmington, DE
  • At the very end of the song, there is a conversation between George Martin and Alistair Taylor. Here is what's said:
    Alistair Taylor: "bottle of claret for you if I'd realized. I'd forgotten all about it George, I'm sorry..."
    George Martin: "Well, do next time"
    Alistair: "Will you forgive me"?
    George: "Mmmm...yes..."
    Alistair: "cheeky bitch."
  • This is one of the songs begun in Rishikesh, India when the Beatles were staying with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.
  • In the song, John mentions the "Duchess of Kircaldy." Kircaldy is in Fife, Scotland and when he was young, Kircaldy was a stop that John always made when in route to visit his relations in Durness. The Beatles also performed in Kircaldy in their early years.
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Comments: 65

Dudley - According to this link, the "bird and bee" is a pub, just like I was told a long time ago. So it looks like Ed from Deal, England is right. http://www.recmusicbeatles.com/public/files/faqs/britguide.html I guess you have to copy and paste links that are posted here. Ah, well.Patti - Michigan
Does anybody have a solid fact or two? I have a fanny of my own to pull guesses out of. I'm trying to settle the "bird & bee" question. My EDUCATED guess is that it's some kind of rhyming slang. Any authorities on cockney rhyming slang out there? (I had a dream that I met Lennon, and he told me to ask everyone to stop bugging him in the afterlife.) Sorry to be so stroppy...just frustrated trying to pin down something resembling reliable information.Dudley - Belfast, Bolivia
When "Cry Baby Cry" ends, "Revolution 9" begins with Paul singing "Can you take me back where I came from can you take me back...." Then the voices saying, "Then we can tell them Paul's got to be alive."
"And you knew all about it, George, I'm sorry."
"Will you forgive me?"
Then then piano and voice saying, "Number nine. Number Nine...."

Many MANY "Paul Is Dead" clues in "Revolution 9" and this was right at the beginning. Used to raise my hair when I first heard it.
Henry - Grand Rapids, Mi
I've always thought Cry Baby Cry was a laugh about people not being where they belonged and doing things they shouldn't be doing with the Baby paying the price.T - Troy, Ny
I agree with Brittanie from Liverpool. The most intuitive meaning is that royal people are basically normal in private. BUT I also think (especially given the Donovan quote above, though I already thought this), they may be fairy-tale-type queens and kings. Although it's not totally supported in the lyrics, I imagine the "bird and bee" is a kind of post office that uses birds and bees to deliver messages. Thus "problems with a message at the local bird and bee."Pataphor - Los Angeles, Ca
Am I he only who finds these lyrics weird, disturbing and interesting? "At twelve o'clock a meeting round the table For a seance in the dark With voices out of nowhere Put on specially by the children for a lark."

No, I find them creepy as well. After Brian Epstein died in 1967, the Beatles held a seance to get in touch with his ghost. I think that's what this about.
Marie - Charlotte, Nc
The song was pretended to be in some way a female liberation song. That's why he puts the male characters doing domestic chores and the female in more important activities.
And I really don't think he considered it a throwaway 'cause they put their best songs at the time in this album and no one wanted to give up a single song that's why it became a doble album much to George Martin's desmay
Dnnz - Aqp, Peru
this song is one of my favorites on the white album. (of course i could say that for just about every song on it) i love john's voice in this one, even though he might not have. it has a soft, dreamy tone, kind of like lucy in the sky w/ diamonds, but without any distortion of his natural voice. This is a great little track tucked away where only true beatles fans can find it =)Michael - Gloucester, Va
I've always liked this song, it's sweet but mighty.Theresa - Murfreesboro, Tn
That bit on the end by Paul------somewhere there's a [bootleg]recording of him on piano leading up to that bit that was edited onto the end of Cry Baby Cry.
i have heard it and it is very interesting to listen to.
Reed - New Ulm, Mn
Brit from Liverpool-------my feeling toooDaevid - Glendale, Ca
Lennon was never particularily comfortable with the sound of his recorded voice and so he probably said this was a throw-a-away because he didn't like his tenor voice. He would often ask the mixers if they could do anything about his voice.Linc - Beaumont, Tx
One of the best songs on the white album. hands down.Farris - Halifax, Ns
"Cry baby cry
Make your mother sigh
She's old enough to know better
So cry baby cry."

I think that the chorus here has no strong correlation with the other lyrics -

He is talking to a girl who is being unfairly treated by her mother, either being held back, repressed, unfairly restricted...so he is encouraging this girl to cry to her mother, make her know that she is wrong(she's old enough to know better, so cry baby cry).
Leanna - Tinley Park, Il
I like how John extends the "cry baby cry" with each chorus. "Cry baby Cryyyyyyyyyyy." I wish the little bit at the end by Paul was a full song. Such a tease.Eric - Buffalo, Ny
"Can You Take Me Back" is sung by Paul and was recorded during the "I Will" sessions.Peter Griffin - Quahog, Ri
It almost sounds like he says "Brahma can you take me back"

I know at least in george harrison's "My sweet lord" he makes a lot of references to indian gods, i'm not sure who's singing the "can you take me back" lines in this song, but maybe it's another references to those gods
David - Rochester, Ny
I thought it was "Robert can you take me back?" too. In fact, I still think it is.Peter Griffin - Quahog, Ri
very underated song. Lennon always dismissed it. Athough Lennon dismisssed most of his songs in the BeatlesJason - State Of Fitz, Nj
Here's yet another one of the best songs from The White Album.Peter Griffin - Quahog, Ri
Good songBianca Sanchez - Alburquerque, Nm
William i had to lie to and im 10 asked me any Beatles question and ill answer it.Bianca Sanchez - Alburquerque, Nm
Am I he only who finds these lyrics weird, disturbing and interesting?

At twelve o'clock a meeting round the table
For a seance in the dark
With voices out of nowhere
Put on specially by the children for a lark.
Jason - State Of Fitz, Nj
Rowboat, damn it -- not BROTHER ;)Lance - Adelaide, Australia
im twelve and i had to lie to get up here and i just wanna say i am the biggest kid fanatic ever! i even know about how they recorded with tony sheriden in there early years in germany.
but i had never realized that george martin conversation at the end.i love paul's can you take me back part at the end!i saw paul in los angeles in 2005, novenber 29.it was the anniversary of george's death and he was talking about him. of course i couldn't see since we could only afford the seats all the way at the top! i wish i was born in liverpool, id learn to depend on myself like john.
Willam - La Mirada, Ca
Only good cos of the 'Can you take me back' track.
The words are BROTHER, Can you take me back
Jorge - Manchester, England
reminds me of the nursery rhyme 'sing a song of sixpence'
the king was in the counting house...the queen was in the parlor...the maid was in the garden...down came a blackbird and pecked her on the nose

Chitra - Bangalore
Great Great song ..... one of my all time favorites .......Frank - Nyc, Ny
Sarah of Pittsburgh, the voice talking to George Martin is Brian Epstein, the Beatles manager, who died on August 27th, 1967.Steven - West Carrollton, Oh
The local Bird and Bee probably refers to a PUB because in UK your LOCAL is the pub you drink in. So the Duke was having problems getting his message across argueing in a pub called The Bird and Bee. A common name for pubs in UKEd - Deal, England
Not relevantt o Cry Baby Cry, but on Paul McCartney's "Can you take me back?" contribution to Revolution #9 (because it came up already) McCartney doesn't sing "Brother can you take me back" as Mark Lewisohn thinks, or "Robert can you take me back" as claimed by others. He sings "Rowboat can you take me back?" He sings the line quite fast, but nevertheless there is a distinct long 'Ohh' after the 'R' as in Row . . . [+ boat], not a short 'O' as in Ro . . . [+ bert]. This makes more sense as he is trying to get back to some place and so he is somewhat poetically asking his mode of transport - namely a rowboat - for help. This song slice gives the impression that Paul had a new song (possible incomplete) lying around - or at least was never released as a Beatles song. Cheers!
Lance - Adelaide, Australia
Hey all I remember about this song is when I heard it for the first time (I was 12) it scared the hell out of me! One of the most haunting melodies Ive heard. And the "can you take me back" part kept me awake for a week! Now that Im older of course it only keeps me awake for a day or two :-)Jimi - St Paul, Mn
Great, underrated Lennon gem... one of the many mysterious corners of the White Album.Pete - Ny, Ny
How amazing is it that such a good song could have been considered a filler or a throwaway by them?

Might as well throw this in too, On a cancelled show called Firefly that takes place 500 years in the future they made a direct reference to the song as a code to activate a decoy
Lupin - Dayton, Oh
You're right, John Lennon is quoted as saying this is a "throwaway". This was the term the Beatles used for songs that were written either under time restraints or when albums were being made with not enough new songs floating around.Brian - Sydney, Canada
I agree with some of the people who say that this song is about a whore type of family. The beginning of the song talks about the king and queen but they're separate (king in the kitchen and one in the parlor). The king is cooking for the wife because he had a love affair. The song confirms this when the king is in the garden picking flowers for his "friend"/lover. Then it says that the duchess comes late from HER love affair and then says that the duke was having problems with "bird and bee" issues and this clearly refers to love. And then the song ends with can you take me back? The king cooks for the wife because HE wants her back and the duchess wants her husband back too.Melody - Brooklyn, Ny
There is a reference to this song in the SciFi series Firefly. One character says "Cry Baby Cry". Another character follows up with "make you mother sigh"Steve - Fenton, Mo
Thank you Sara from Pitsburg. I have never heard it on vinyl, so I wouldn't know. I wouldn't be surprised if my dad had the album on vinyl though.Stefanie - Rock Hill, Sc
The "can you take me back where I came from" Is Paul.Linus - Hamilton, On, Canada
Haha. Some of you make me laugh. The CD people did not "mess up" the songs by putting the ending of the previous song in the beginning of the next song, stupid. The Beatles wanted it to sound a certain way so you couldn't tell when one song ended and when the next started. So when the records were converted to CD, it is logical to say that they wanted the same effect as it was on the record so when it was on CD they didn't ruin it by clearly ending the song when it was supposed to be ended. That's not the Beatle's style. They're always different, you see.

Also, someone said about the conversation at the end. I'm pretty sure what this is what they're saying..

(Not sure who said this): I brought a carrot for you, I realized.
George Martin: Well do next time.
(Whoever): But i forgot all about it, George,
I'm sorry. ... Do you forgive me?
George Martin: Yes. *laughs*

and then at the beginning at Revolution 9 it sounds like George Martin quietly says 'biiiitch'. But that's purely a guess.
Sarah - Pittsburgh, Pa
Cool song. I like John's cool calm voice in this.Sylvia - London, England
I originally thought it was about a whore whose family was in royalty. Although similar, the affair idea makes more sense. I kinda doubt the possibility
of being a twilight zone thing. Or maybe, possibly, itz not about anything. Strange. But I really like the song.
Johnny - Los Angeles, Ca
By "I'm pretty sure you were right" I was not referring to your comment about the Twilight Zone, by the way. That's definitely a possible meaning, though. Also, I highly doubt what is stated as a "fact" at the top. Doesn't sound like any fairy tales I've ever heard.Vinny - Revere, Ma
Stuart, I'm pretty sure you were right, actually. The "Can you take me back" part probably was part of Revolution 9. In fact, if you pay attention to the timing of the track partitions, you'll find that the entire CD version of the album is screwed up in this way. Bits at the beginnings or ends of many of the songs are cut from where they should be and grafted onto adjacent tracks. This is most noticeable between Rocky Raccoon-Don't Pass Me By, Wild Honey Pie-The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill, and Cry Baby Cry-Revolution 9, but it happens throughout almost the entire album.Vinny - Revere, Ma
By the way, since I first had this song on vinyl, I always considered the "Can you take me back" section more of an intro to "Revolution Number 9" than a Part of "Cry Baby Cry." It wasn't until I got the CD that I noticed they put it on that track... I guess I'm really confused... Oh well, I still really like the song, whatever the heck it means...Stuart - Rowlett, Tx
Wow, did I ever have a different take on this than everyone else. I always saw it as a Twilight Zone type story. I guess I based it all on the seance line. If you look at it that way, the children are actually...well...deceased. The family may not sctually be royalty, the titles are thrown in for irony. (Would a king really be in the kitchen cooking, or working in the garden?) The "king" is the father and he's pretty much keeping the household running while the "queen" obsesses over her lost children. The "duke" and "dutchess" are mediums. The message the duke was having trouble with was in another seance, making them late. Taken in this vein, the "Voices out of nowhere put on specially by the children for a lark" suddenly becomes a little creepy... I don't know why I've always interpreted it this way, but I have from the first time I heard it... I'm really not a gloomy person.. :-)Stuart - Rowlett, Tx
harpsicord....? i think it has a more soothing soundKen - Flint, Mi
This song is great played backwards.Gregor - Toronto, Canada
The version on anthology 3 is beautiful. I prefer it to the one on the white album, although that version is great too.Stefanie Magura - Rock Hill, Sc
The version on anthology 3 is beautiful. I prefer it to the one on the white albu, although that version is grear too.Stefanie Magura - Rock Hill, Sc
I love the little accordion bit at the start. It only lasts a few seconds, however - would've been nice to have it at other parts of the song.Christopher - Newcastle, England
I think it's a beautiful song! It's one of my favorites on the White album! But my favorite version is the one on the Beatles anthology! Does anyone agree with me?Stefanie Magura - Rock Hill, Sc
Great guitar work on this. Ditto for the whole darn White Album. The Beatles at their worst, weirdest, and their best.Nessie - Sapporo, Japan
i love the song because i think the tune is just so awesomeCheyanne - Allegan, Mi
I think this is about children and how parents are having trouble tryng to take care of them. "The king was in the garden
Picking flowers for a friend who came to play
The queen was in the playroom
Painting pictures for the children's holiday" means that cildren are often spoiled and rotten. and It could also be about parents not treating you right but that's just what I think. And Martin, If you listen closely he says he's sorry for forgetting a bottle of Claret. Then George goes "Cheeky f--kin' bitch!" under his breath (if you listen closely).
Takashi - Tokyo, Japan
I think one verse in this song about the duchess of Kircaldy was about the duchess having a love
affair. "And arriving late for tea
The duke was having problems
With a message at the local bird and bee." Arriving late for tea insinuates(sp) some kind of alternate agenda and then the next two lines are pretty obscure to me but I think local bird and bee definatly points some sexual act going on
A-baum - Dallas, Tx
Update- it seems these voices are saying "Realize? I know all about it, George. Will you forgive me?" "Yes".
The Paul-is-Dead brigade claims that this is John talking to George Martin, apologizing for the clues he hid that Paul was dead.
Martin - Sterling, Va
Did anyone notice there are some very quiet conversations at the very end of the song, after "can you take me back"? It sounds like John saying "I know all about it, George. Will you forgive me?" and someone saying "yes". It's not George Harrison, though. I think it was George Martin.

What could he be apologizing for?
Martin - Sterling, Va
sorry for not explaining my other comment, but i think most people will understand what i meant by it.Ivan - Vancouver, Canada
i think this song, or the chorus has a lot to do with how rich people's children are often spoiled. "make your mother sigh, shes old enough to know better".... well thats my two bits on this song.Ivan - Vancouver, Canada
weird lyrics, but still a nice songDave - Springfield, United States
When Paul sings "Can you take me back" thing before Revolution 9",instead of "brother can you take me back" sounds more like "Robert Can you take me back".Each time I hear part i think of "Dr. Robert".Scott Baldwin - Edmonton, Canada
I had a dream that I met John Lennon, and he told me that this and Yellow Submarine were his favourite Beatles songs. How very strange.Mike - London, England
John Lennon has said that he considered this song a "throwaway". I think it's great.Brian - St. Louis, Mo
I think I may be in danger of reading too much into the lyrics, which I always get mad at people for doing, so sorry but......I think it shows how even royalty and famous people are still human and live lives like normal people. They still run late and play jokes on eachother and such.............at least that's what it means to me.Brittanie - Liverpool, England
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