Dig a Pony

Album: Let It Be (1970)


  • John Lennon would often string words together to create nonsensical phrases for his lyrics - the best example is "I Am The Walrus." Listeners could often discern hidden meaning in his words, even when there was none, which rather amused him.

    "Dig A Pony" is in this tradition, with lines line "I do a road hog" and "you can syndicate any boat you row." Of course, fans formed their own interpretations, including one young man who was found hiding on the property surrounding Tittenhurst, Lennon's home in Ascot, England. In the 1988 film Imagine: John Lennon, we see this fellow asking what's really behind "Dig A Pony"; Lennon assures him that the song refers to no specific person and that the lyrics are "nonsense," a lyrical technique he also attributes to unspecified Bob Dylan songs. John stated in 1969 about this song, "I just make it up as I go along." >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Nick - La Crosse, WI
  • The Beatles recorded this on the Apple Records rooftop on the afternoon of January 30, 1969. It appears in rooftop sequence of the movie Let It Be. This was their first live performance since they stopped touring in 1965.
  • There is a false start in this song that was caused by Ringo, as you can see Lennon looking back at him to make sure he's ready before they start again. What caused the hiccup is unclear: if you watch the clip, just as they are getting ready to count into the song, you see Ringo blowing smoke out of his mouth. There is a hesitation and you see him bending over, but it looks like he's already put his cigarette down prior to that.
  • The working title of this song was "Con A Lowry." Lennon changed it because, "'I con a Lowry' didn't sing well... it's got to be d's and p's you know."
  • Lennon wrote this as two songs: "All I Want Is You" and "Dig a Pony." In the original pressings of the Let It Be LP, it's listed as "All I Want Is You."
  • The original version, which can be heard on the Anthology 3 compilation, opens with the line "All I want is" and ends with "All I want is you." Phil Spector cut these lines out when he produced the song for Let It Be. The unedited version also appears in the movie.
  • This song was listed as "I Dig A Pony" on the album (though that error was corrected for the CD). Some people thought that the line "Hi, hi hi, hi hiyeeee.... dig a pony" was "I, I, I, I Iyeeeeeeeee.... dig a pony." You can still find tabs online for "I Dig A Pony." >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Loretta - Liverpool, England
  • The line "I do a road hot" was originally "I dig a skylight" and then "I did a groundhog."

Comments: 61

  • Masso from Seattle UsaAfter Tate killings incident and other radical interpretations of songs like Helter skelter was blamed on Beatles, they sure would not want to explain any of the lyrics out of fear of being accused for radical inspirations, certainly would call the most controversial ones garbage to neutralize any possible radical effects.. very clever strategy if you ask me.. for a band in a critical time glowing red hot for instigating radicalism.
    But Dig a pony is full of abstract meanings.. the style is called wordism.. a style similar to dottism in painting.. where each dot has no meaning but when it is together then forms a somewhat abstract but comprehensible pattern. Very simple for ones who can free associate and have learned to think abstract.
    This was very popular trend in artistic circles then, specially in theatre, Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot , where horse speaks out in seemingly dissociated abstract wordist style but makes sense in association with the meaning of the whole play.
    Beatles being out of art school musicians were several notches different just a normal musician.
  • Jim E from Staten Island, NySuch nonsense, as usual when people try to figure out what they were "REALLY" saying! Always looking for the "REAL" hidden meaning in Beatles lyrics. Imagine the fun they must have had watching the world play this silly game. Especially fun for us Americans that didn't know what a Mac was; what is the Albert Hall, or so much other British slang words, when we had no Google Or British to American lexicon! We speak the same language, only different bits of it!
    And even more laughable when John, or Paul would state what this, or that meant, people would disregard it completely! However, I still don't even buy it, when it comes to Paul's official story for Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds! Perhaps the kids drawing was the impetus, but those of us that have seen cellophane flowers, well we know better!
    but I digress. In this case, I'll not take John's word for it--just nonsense put to music as he wrote them. Perhaps, he didn't realize the real and seemingly logical sense some of the connections in the statement and answer structure of the lyrics actually make. For instance, Pony and celebration. Ponies and a child's birthday party, the first experience of celebrating anything you want--I have always heard it as "celebrate anything you ARE" in the second line.
    Next: Roadhog, bobbing and weaving to penetrate traffic. This sort of driver is usually is usually aggressive --penetrating wherever the want, off the road as well.
    On the other hand, Loading a truck and syndicatimg any boat you row? WTF Right? Loading the loray--doing the hard work. Syndicating? A syndicate is a self-organizing group of individuals. The boat? Any vessel that moves the group. If you speak English, and use a bit of imagination, all of the verses make sense. The confusion comes when you try to view this song as a ballard; Only because you can't string them all together and find a coherent story, does the song become nonsense, because each line is it's own statement, however loose the logic may appear, and stands on it's own.
    But how can anyone call this a crappy song? It's a brilliant piece of music from the main riff to the timing changes, and mixture of time signatures. I don't doubt that some of the lyrics were simply written to fit this incredibly creative, and deceptively simple score. If you don't get what I mean by that, look at bands that try to cover this song and listen closely. Not 1 in 15 will actually get it right beyond the riff and the rest. Most fail in maintaining the timing changes smoothly and maintaining the true of continuity. It's really incredibly difficult to play CORRECTLY because the way the lyrics fit with the chord changes is actually a bit out of time. If you're not a musician, but have a good ear, simply try to tap your foot through a stanza and through the chorus. When you lose time with your foot tapping is where I'm talking about. Right down to Lennon's off key trail of of Because. . .Brilliant!
  • Jiveswallow from Cherryvale, Australiathe rolling intro before the lyrics kick in is wunnerfull..i cant put that into the garbage bin...it kinda a precursor to the wonderful turnarounds in meat city..i wonder how long they rehearsed those..great grand and future looking.
  • Arlette from Corona, CaYup I'm sure to dig a pony refers to heroin.
  • Jema from South Portland, Me"Hold it.1,,2,3" then the instruments come in after,I've always loved the way this started.It's like if there wasn't a pause then the beginning wouldn't have been so interesting.It's just cool that the song didn't start after the count,sorry this is confusing.
  • Tom from Los Angeles, CaCherish these few words til we're together . . .
    P.S. I dig a pony.
  • George from Belleville, NjThis is a cool song,a slow rocker.It has a hard sound and great lead guitar work.Not one of Lennon's best,but still an interesting piece of music and great to listen to.
  • D from Redhook Ny, NyWhen I dig a pony
    you know I can't celebrate anything
    Ooh. celebrate anything?

    But when I do a road hog
    That's when I penetrate any place, it so
    Yes you can penetrate any place you go
    I told you so , all I want is truth
    Everything is got to be Because the wind is high
    And you blow my mind.........

    Back to when I picked my dog and rear him
    He radiated fear and blood and tears so near him
    everything you are is that truth? Because......-
    Ooh. I rolling Stonie, they can syndicate anyplace they go
    Don't they though?
    Well you know I can imitate everyone he know's
    I'm here to tell you so Tell you so , don't you know
    Because the sky is blue, and you see it too.

    Even if all 4 Beatles were here to read your song facts , they wouldn't.
    They leave it all to us to decipher and they howl all the way to the bank.

    The little piggies.
  • Coco56 from Small Town, TxThe Beatles stopped touring in 1966. August 1966, Candle Stick Park, San Francisco, was their last live concert.
  • Clubber Lange from Ocean Gate, NjI like how he says "I Roll a Stoney, you can imitate everyone you know"... Def a dig at the Stones, who were totally tryin to outdo the Beatles...
  • Bill from Montague, NjOk, I'm not a Beatles fan. And although JL said the lyrics were nonsensical, um I don't buy that. The references are pretty strong. Mostly centered on childhood rhymes but with double and triple untundras. Just not pointed. We can seriously read into it if you like. First song played in 4 years, played from a rooftop. I'm sure it must have a more significant meaning than nonsense!

    A kind of response to the fans.
    You want us back, well I'd like a pony!
    Ok, you can celebrate that we're back,
    you can celebrate anything you want!
    Even Nixon's inaugeration a couple days ago..

    Yeah we'll sleep with the fat roadies
    and if you stand in our way, we'll get by. And reach everyone. We can be good at media..
    We want to influence the people. You want us back, why? Because duh

    We were the Moondogs, but that didn't work out, you liked the Beatles better. So you got it. We thought it was a descriptive name that said alot about us, but Beatles is better..

    We took off for a while, left like a rollin stone, got quite high, etc.. Yip just like everyone was doing in the mid 60's. You did too..
    We should have been on point, and using our platform, we told you this bad stuff was coming, you told us bad stuff was comming for us to.... But you want us back, Because..

    The politics are crazy, and there's a change now, not for the better. Nixon just had his inaugeration. Somethings up! They're saying s--t about everyone! F that.

    I'd like a pony now. We're doing our part, now you listen.. We're gonna spread a message. Like the Row Row Row your boat song, and you can repeat it for us. Someone is starting s--t because it's not the way they want it. Just Because.

    Conspiracy theory at its best.. And ofcourse U2 copying the rooftop thing later on..

  • Darryl from Queensland, -Put this on my list of 'worst' Beatles' songs.
  • Jim from Indio, CaFor some reason, Phil Spector mixed out Billy's keyboard part on the original LET IT BE album, but in the Naked version, it's in there. He plays some really cool "galloping" riffs.
  • G from Potomac, MdRingo is way off the beat at the beginning, aye! I hope this is on purpose.
  • Robert from Brooklyn, Nyactually need to comment on something in the other comments. It is possible the semolina is a pudding in the UK but in fact it's a type of wheat. It's a grain mainly used in bread - semolina bread or in pasta - semolina pasta.

    P.S. Poems are just images that do have meanings at times but since the are not prose but poetry which are an attempt at creating pure image with words the invoke things but don't really mean anything eactly at all times. Semolina Pilchard climing up the effiel tower might mean something exact but then again it is just a very evocative sentence that might have no meaning except the beauty of it?

    Tiger tiger burning bright in the jungle night.

    Tell me what that means? you could tell me a 100 things and they would all probably have a grain--a pun on semolina ha ha--of truth in them.
  • Robert from Brooklyn, NyActually Patti Smith who uses "to pony" in LAND from the HORSES album claims "to pony" has a sexual meaning but she does explain what she means.
  • Dave from Liverpool, United KingdomThe "semolina pilchard" reference comes from a children's nonsense verse local to Liverpool. It goes:

    "Yellow belly custard, green snot pie
    Semolina, pilchard and a dead dog's eye
    Slap it on a butty, nice and thick
    And wash it down with a cup of cold sick"

  • Clubber Lange from Ocean Gate, NjThe three song line up of this followed by "Across the Universe" and then "I Me Mine" is one of the best they ever put together on an album...
  • Oleg from Minsk, Belarus, Other - Europethe intro of "Dig a Pony" was borrowed by The Red Hot Chili Peppers as an intro for their "I Could Die For You" song when they played it live.
    -Oleg, Belarus
  • James from Naugatuck, CtReally people, you must stop and listen. It's not really garbage or drugs or anything like that...it's just what was flowing at the time and place. It may not be the best but there's nothing different about it from the rest that came before is there? Unless you make it so. I mean ultimately you hear whatever you want to hear, don't you? So that's always been the beauty of the music hasn't it? I mean why read all this or that into it when that was never meant to be, o maybe it was? The Beauty lives on!
  • David from Wilson, NyFor Ken, Elizabethtown, NY

    Semolina Pilchard originated from the Beatles song "I Am The Walrus". Many people have tried to find the true meaning behind this name, but it is actually quite simple. Semolina is a type of pudding that John Lennon was forced to eat as a child, and Pilchard is a type of sardine that was usually fed to cats.
    Dont know about the Eiffel Tower part.
  • Petermichaelwilson from Hamilton, On, CanadaI agree with James who said:

    "For me, this some a a call on high to not forget how it is to be creatively free, to be engaged with the muse."

    that makes up the majority of the seemingly non-sensical lyrics. "i pick a moondog, well you can radiate everything you are" is obviously about being a musician or performer or just radiating your creativity in anyway. jonny and the moondogs was an early band name for them, so ive heard.

    even "you can syndicate any boat you row" could be about anything but going with the creative analogies i'd say he's taking about how you can get behind any project you're in, or something to that extent.

    there's the obvious jab at the stones, which supports the whole theme of creativity. i doubt there's as many sexual connotations as people think but if there are it's all toward yoko and how much john loved her, so it would work its way in to a song that's about everything he likes, even drugs.

    very obviously just a huge stream of consciousness about what he felt at the time. it's only jibberish if you want to be told a straight story. he just didnt clean it up when it came out, besides making it rhyme.

    i love it when he says "dig a pony", its so distinct, john doing the lennon voice. i played the song for my friend before and he hadnt heard the song in so long and didnt know i was putting on beatles, so when it started he was like "WHAT'S THIS?" and he still didnt know when the "I, i i i iii" was going but when john said "Dig A Pony" he was like "OHHHhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh" with a big smile and like sat back relaxed. I was like "Exactly..."

    listen to "Dig It" after, so funny, its like he's still going, talking about "a rolling stone" and "the fbi" and "the cia" and "the bbc" "bb king" and "doris day"
  • James from Santa Cruz, CaFor me, this some a a call on high to not forget how it is to be creatively free, to be engaged with the muse. As we move on in life, heavy responsibilities and disappointments can make us, bit by bit (or sometimes, in one fell swoop), forget the childlike magic that is the seed of all creation.

    If Lennon need heroin to help hang on to that feeling long enough to put it to words and music, then, bravo!, welcome to civilization's fold a constructive use of heroin.

    I lump this song to gether with other Lennon works of the peroid: Because; Sun King; and Across the Universe. All of these works, to me, come from a certain "cosmic" place that Lennon could "report" very effectively from like a journalist on location.

  • Molly from Niagara Falls, NyThe album version is the same rooftop take as the movie version (note the banter). Glyn Johns mixed a studio take (it also has a false start, and it ends with "All I want is you...Yes I do", continuing directly into "I've Got A Feeling" (as recorded).
  • Lateeka from Kelowna, Canadaroll a stoney sounds like rolling a spliff to me
  • Cannie from San Antonio, TxI like the music, but I wish John would've put more thought into the lyrics... to make it really say something. To me it's almost like he didn't really care. He wrote it while "sitting on a cornflake" perhaps??

  • Roman from Bellingham, WaCorrection on the facts: it did appear in the movie, played on the rooftop, but the original cut (on Let it Be) was recorded in the studio, over the course of days in Jan/Feb. '69
  • Roman from Bellingham, WaWow, that's pretty sad, if you can't find some kind of meaning in the song, even it was just words, put together. All art lives to be intepreted, beyond what the artist did or didn't intend. I see a lot of meaning in the "celebrate" "penetrate" and "radiate" lines, though limiting it to just sexual interpretation is very juvenile. And I gotta admit, "syndicate any boat you row," that's gotta be pure nonsense, probably just there 'cause it rhymed.
  • Mike from Oakdale, Nyhere's my interpretation of the song

    I dig a pony (he's addicted to heroin)
    where you can celebrate anything you want (you can be an addict and enjoy it, celebrate getting your fix, or anything else you want)
    i do a road hog (some kind of sexual encounter where "dirty" things are done)
    where you can penetrate any place you go (this is about anal sex, as in, you can have sex in any place you want, for both men and women)

    all i want is you, everything has got to be just like you want it to (whatever works for you works for me, basically)

    i pick a moon dog (referencing his old band)
    where you can radiate everything you are (you can realize your dreams, you can be successful in the world he's talking about)000000000

    i roll a stoney (obviously about the rolling stones copying the beatles, but also about how the beatles copied others, basically saying you should pinch musical ideas off of people)

    i feel the wind blow
    where you can indicate everything you see (this is where people are free to truly express how they feel, the wind blowing is the future, how things will eventually be)

    i wrote a lorry
    where you can syndicate any boat you row
    (this is being able to be successful no matter what you choose to do or boat you choose to row, another hypothetical situation

    and that's my interpretation

    the final point of the song is realizing the limitless potential and possibilities that we are capable of as long as we don't limit ourselves

    of course that's just how I see the song :p
  • Jonn from Liverpool, EnglandI usually agree with John Lennons comments about their songs, however I dont think this song is a "piece of garbage"; for another band it would be their greatest hit.
  • Andrew from Indianapolis, Ini roll a stoney is lennon talking about rolling a joint?
  • Christina from Chandler, Azlooove this song and the way Paul dances to it near the end in the movie (you can see it on musicvideocodes.com) when they play the fast riff again. hilarious.
  • Stefanie from Rock Hill, ScThis song is funny. John Lennon's crazy, very random, and hilarious, and it shows!! I love it!
  • Tim from Fort Worth, TxIf Lennon was a heroin addict when he wrote those lyrics, it shows. I'm amazed that the band put those words to music. If you just read the lyrics, it's hard to imagine making a decent song from them. Having said this, the music and lyrics together are a masterpiece. That song is terrific, even if it doesn't mean anything.
  • Sylvia from London, England Really cool song! (Not said much on John's songs for me, so this is rare!)
  • Micka from šèavnica, Otherthat false start is so funny!
  • Luna from London, Englandwhen i read what John said about this song it made me laugh. The reason being that my friend and I always say 'garbage', as in something being garbage ex. "that television show last night was garbage"
  • Barry from New York, NcTrey Anastasio of Phish (the "Phab Four") covered this tune on his 2005 spring tour.
    One notable version took place at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City on May 13, 2005. The band Particle opened the show that nite.
  • Nelson from Left FieldTo those who don't think its sexual,"you can celebrate anything you want" may refer to body parts but thats a weak one. "I do a road hog" and, "you can penetrate anyplace you go", however, are very connotated in an amorous manner. any place you go of course parallels you can celebrate anything you want. I may be wrong, if so, I'll blame it on my hormones. What can i do i'm a teenager?
  • Jordan from Wimette, IlIt was originally called 'Con A Lowry', but John didn't think it sang very well.
  • Nathan from Defiance, OhProbably another good example of Johnny boy trying to write jibberish and see who would try and decipher it. Great jam though.
  • Paulo from India, United StatesLennon apparently thought a few of his songs were garbage. He evidently didn't have very high opinions of Sgt Pepper's, for instance, as I understand it.
  • Paul from Raleigh, NcI recently only had about 100 beatles songs(mainly hits). I never heard this one until I finished getting all the beatles songs. Im glad I did because its one of my new favorites.
  • Gary from Moorpark, CaI always like to play Dig a Pony and I've got a feeling back to back. They have the same feeling for me anyway.
  • Gary from Moorpark, CaThis was actually two songs according to the Beatles web site. Paul had half of a song, a beginning and John had half of a song, the end. They put the two halves together to make one song. To me this is the real genius of the Beatles. They had their differences but they could pull it together to make a song work out of just bits and pieces. This song has so much screaming energy being released and at the same time has this great guitar work that is just so cool. Makes me want to buy a better guitar and play more.
  • Sheena from Port Colborne, CanadaI like this song too. and harrison is amazing, it's great to watch him play
  • Stefanie Magura from Rock Hill, ScGood song. not the Beatles best, but i still like it. BTW, Dan how is it a sexual song?
  • Ken from Elizabethtown, NyAs for the lyrics, I agree that it is mostly John's stream of consciousness poetic style and no hidden meaning (like "semolina pilchard climbing up the Eiffel Tower" - I dare you to analyze that!!!). But he does work in the dig at the Stones and some other little witticisms.
    As for the music, I also am another one of those who actually likes this song quite a bit. It is not your standard 3-chord pop song, for sure - the chord progression is really quite interesting and that gives lots of opportunity for good guitar riffs.
  • Nessie from Sapporo, JapanA fresh, simple song that's a testament to their earlier, more innocent compositions. In other words, not one of their best efforts.
  • Nicholas from Kalamazoo, MiIt might not be everybody's favorite song, might not even be lennon's favorite. The guitar lines are a true testament to the genius of Harrison
  • Carly from San Diego, CaI actually really like this song
  • Roger from Bristol, TnLennon was right...it WAS a "piece of garbage". Lennon was my favorite and the Beatles usually did everything great. But "Dig A Pony" is one of the worst songs ever recorded by them. Stupid title, stupid lyrics...but damn, 98% of everything else they did was pretty darn good.
  • Tom from Halifax, CanadaThe line "I roll a stonie, where you can imitate anything you want" is a dig at the Rolling Stones. Lennon, along with many others, thought the Stones copied everything the Beatles did.
  • Loretta from Liverpool, EnglandI'm not totally up on my hippie slang. Did "dig a pony" just mean "like a pony", "don't you like that pony" etc. or did the phrase actually have some other meaning? I'd be interested in knowing.

    And dan, what makes you think this is sexual?
  • Ed from Moline, IlThe line:
    "I roll a stoney
    Well you can imitate ev'ryone you know
    Yes you can imitate ev'ryone you know"
    Is almost certainly about The Rolling Stones...who really did imitate 'ev'ryone they knew....they made millions doing so...so did the Beatles to a certain extent early on.
  • Mike from London, EnglandIt was actually Ringo sneezing and blowing his nose that stopped the count-in. 1-2-3 HOLD IT!
  • Don from Philadelphia, PaI don't think this is a piece of garbage. I like it.
  • Paulo from New York, NyLOL @ John's impression of his song.
  • Brett from Edmonton, CanadaOK, I hate it when people always blame nonsensical lyrics on drugs and whatnot but remember pony=horse, horse is slang for heroin. Probably just bizarre speculation but hey, I'm bored.
  • Mike from Mountlake Terrace, Waanother example of ramblin' poetry by John, put with music - In movie Imagine, a stalker caught on Johns property related deeply with the lyrics of Johns song - specifically this one - and John told him .. "it's just words, put together for a song" in other words, stop trying to find meaning from nonsense. If it's good to listen to, listen to it, don't analyze it.
  • Dan from London, Englanda very sexual song
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