Mean Mr. Mustard

Album: Abbey Road (1969)

Songfacts®:

  • John Lennon wrote most of this when he was in India at the Maharishi's meditation camp with the other Beatles in 1967. He didn't think much of the song, calling it and "Polythene Pam" "finished bits of crap that I wrote in India."
  • Lennon got the idea for this song from a newspaper article he read about a miser who hid his cash everywhere so nobody could find it. The article appeared in the Daily Mirror on June 7, 1967, with the headline, "Scotsman's Meanness 'Was Cruel.'"

    "Mr. Mustard" was John Mustard, who was described in the story as "an exceptionally mean man." His wife was divorcing him because, among other things, she couldn't stand being in the dark all the time - he insisted on keeping the lights off most of the time to save money.

    It wasn't the first time John Lennon was inspired by a newspaper story: some of the lyrics in "A Day In The Life" came from articles he read in the Daily Mail.
  • The Beatles recorded this as one song with "Sun King." It's part of a suite of songs at the end of Abbey Road.
  • The Beatles considered using this on The White Album, but decided not to.

Comments: 27

  • Tom from Los Angeles, CaThat bass is just immense. For a long time I thought it was the most kick-ass tuba playing I'd ever heard. Great sound and variety, once again, even on their "trifles."
  • Richard from Toledo , OhThe instrumental rift under the vocal in this song is great! I wonder if this is the first time since Harrison's "Think For Yourself" that Paul played a Fuzz Bass in a Beatle recording.
  • Tay from San Diego, Cathis song is funny! i think mr. mustard IS our old PE coach. "sleeps in a hole in the road, savin up to buy some cloths". our coach had 3 outfits and looked homeless. luckily he was fired (because he was sexist)BEATLES KICK BUTT!
  • Ken from Louisville, KyIn John's orginal version, the sister's name was "Shirley". He changed it to "Pam" when the Beatles decided to put this song before "Polythene Pam" on the Abbey Road meledy, to add continuity.
  • Bianca Sanchez from Alburquerque, NmThank you Ken for clarafiying that. That's what I ment. I read it on the back of my "A Hard Day's Night" DVD.

    "Pardon me for asking, but, whose that little old man?"

    HA! I lOve it
  • Ken from Louisville, KyActually, John's line about Mr. Mustard being a "dirty old man" WAS, indeed, a nod to the "clean old man" in-joke in A Hard Days Night. The actor who played the part was a star in the British TV comedy "Steptoe And Son" and the ongoing put-down to him in the show was "You dirty old man!" As an in-joke, they changed him to a "clean old man" in "A Hard Days Night" and John changed him back to a "dirty old man" for this song, to make the joke come full circle.
  • Bianca Sanchez from Alburquerque, NmAny one notice that Polythene Pam is Mr.Mustard's sister? Cos in the song it says "His sister PAM works in the shop she never stops she's a go getter" I think this was written for the guy who played Granndad in a Hard Day's Night, Cos it's like Such a Clean old man! made into Such a Dirty Old Man! Get it?
  • Peter Griffin from Quahog, RiThis song by itself is only 1:06 long...
  • Musicmama from New York, NyThis is a great "snapshot" song, yet it goes perfectly with "Polyethylene Pam" and "She Came In Through The Bathroom Window." Lots of English whimsicality, sort of like a children's book for grown-ups. I love it!
  • Krista from Elyria, OhHe he he! Great beat, I tell ya
  • Tanya from Los Angeles, CaMy favorite piece of the melody.
  • Cameron from Bainsville, CanadaI love the story to it. Although it's only like a 2 paragraph story, it's great! And I love the melody. It's such a good song, combined with Polythene Pam and She Came In Through the Bathroom window.
  • Jon from Oakridge, OrI LOVE this song. The Beatles are the greatest. The medleys in this album kick @ss.
  • Tom from Norman, Okre: Paul's grandfather... a guy who "sleeps in a hole in the road" wouldn't be "very clean", would he?
  • Jerry from Portland, OrWell, I really like this song and the line about "Takes him out to look at the Queen, Only place that he's ever been, Always shouts out something obscene" is hilarious!
  • Orangebeaker from Edinburgh, ScotlandA ten bob note is a ten pound note. Simple as that.
  • Andreu from Homer, NyYeah ever since the first time i heard this tune i totally thought the ten bob note was lennons way of saying ten bucks worth of coke, and even if it isnt in mind mind it still is and always will be. This song is super rad yet chill and super fun to play and sing (along with polythene pam).
  • Lee from Clearwater, Fl This just doesn't sound like a Beatles song
  • Mark from Barrow-in-furness, EnglandCatherine, Glasgow... It wasn't his real grandad obviously it was steptoe. They were playing caracter's otherwise they would have to include all their real life details like marriage, and George being gay, which never came up in the film. Don't gasp, I was joking
  • Richard from Newport, Isle Of Wight, EnglandNo no no Kenny. You Yanks are so introverted! Why would Liverpudlian Lennon be singing about US currency? A "bob" was a nickname for a shilling, which was equal to 12 old pence in the Beatles' day before UK decimilisation of currency in the early 1970s. A ten-bob note was therefore 120 pence, 2 crowns, or half a pound, depending on how you look at it. Basically, a ten-bob note was the smallest denomination of paper money in 1960s UK.
  • Laura from Santa Fe, Nmmy gosh! everyone assumes that it is about something bad! It's not!
  • Nessie from Sapporo, JapanMean here is used in the British sense of "stingy."
  • Kenny from Baltimore, MdThe "ten-bob note" line isn't about cocaine, it's a ten dollar bill. The other line, "Trying to save paper," is proof. Also it says the song is about a mean man who hid his money.
  • Catherine from Glasgow, EnglandA lot of people thought the line "keeps a ten bob note up his nose" was referring to cocaine when this song came out. Some radio stations refused to play it because of this.
    No, it was definatly Paul's Grandad. Bit wierd really. On the train at the beginning of the film when John ask's him why he was with them he says "well, my mother thought the trip would do him good". Paul's mother died when he was 14.
  • Paulo from New York, NyI thought that was Ringo's granddad.
  • Eva from Dallas, TxThis more than likely has nothing to do with the song at all, but every time I hear Mean Mr. Mustard, it makes me think of Paul's grandfather in Hard Day's Night.
  • Doug from Springfield, IlAccording to the newspaper story, the "ten-bob note" was not kept in his nose. It would be found elsewhere.
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