The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill

Album: The White Album (1968)
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  • John Lennon called this quirky tune, "A sort of teenage social-comment song and a bit of a joke."
  • Lennon wrote this about a guy he met at the Maharishi's camp in India who loved to hunt. The four Beatles went on the retreat to study meditation, but were not impressed with the results.

    The hunter's name was Richard A. Cooke, and his wife Bronwyn explained in Mojo magazine September 2008 that Richard, "had asked the Maharishi if it was a sin to kill a tiger. John and George were in the room. Maharishi's response was, 'Life destruction is Life destruction.' Rik has not shot anything since. He became a freelance photographer for National Geographic."
  • Yoko Ono sang the line "Not when he looked so fierce." It was the first female vocal on a Beatles song.
  • The opening riff that sounds like a flamenco guitar was played on a Mellotron, which is a type of synthesizer.
  • Why "bungalow"? At the ashram where The Beatles were visiting in India, guest stayed in luxury bungalows. The hunter they wrote the song about clearly was not into immersing himself in the culture, but more interested in the comfort of his bungalow.
  • The Beatles recorded this in an overnight session. Everyone around the studio was invited to sing on the chorus. Ringo's wife Maureen sang harmony.
  • The correct name of the LP this is on is actually called "The Beatles." It became known as "The White Album" because of it's stark white cover. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Chet - Saratoga Springs, NY

Comments: 57

  • Dieselestate from Great BritainKiki, Of course you're absolutely right to question sources but... I can tell you that regarding the early years of Yoko Ono's appearance in the lives of The Beatles, Kayla & Jay are spot on. In fact, Kayla has nailed all the facts - only thing missing is that Cox & Ono actually had a daughter called Kyoko (sorry if my spelling is wrong). When Cox realised he was indeed being 'cut out' he abducted Kaiko to hold as hostage so Ono would submit to his demands. Either he didn't know Ono too well or Cox thought that the so-called Maternal Instinct would surface in Ono. He happened to choose the worst person to play that game with. I will pause with a reminder that at the centre of this 'game' are two innocent children: Kaiko & Julian. The latter was really lucky that he had a wonderful mother in the form of the late Cynthia Powell Lennon (RIP) who did her level best to protect Julian from the strange, twisted, machinations of his father Mr. Lennon. Kyoko on the other hand, not so lucky because she was with Cox - who promptly joined a cult & 'disappeared' to reinforce his hand. Jay is correct when he says Ono is the scion of a wealthy Japanese banking family and, she is very much a product of a variety of Stiff Upper Lip which seems to be standard around the world, in all cultures, where the ultra wealthy/gentry/aristocracy are concerned. Ono's family publicly disowned & disinherited her when she left her first husband, by taking out a full page advert in the Japanese equivalent of The New York Times, telling Japanese society just how much they disagreed with Yoko; that she was disgraceful, dishonourable, etc. Nice, eh? So, Cox removes Kaiko as he is cut out of the game. Ono (Stiff Upper Lip remember) refused to budge and be blackmailed, as she steadily took over the running of Lennon. Ono did not see Kyoko again until 1994 when Kyoko was 31. She then took it out on Lennon: If I cannot see my child, why should you see yours? Lennon went along with it! He was no saint by any stretch. Those are the types of people we are dealing with here. It is well documented that during Lennon's 18 months with the preternaturally good natured May Pang, Julian was able to see Lennon in a welcoming, stress free environment for the first time in years - owing to the absence of Ono & the encouragement of Pang. All this is out there. I think Albert Goldberg was the first biographer to collate & marshall all the details in his biography of Lennon, which remains controversial to this day, mainly due to the Cult of Lennon painting him as a Saviour of Mankind. Sorry this is so long but, we are all products of our varied life experience yet at heart, we remain the children we were of yesteryear and, I really feel for the children that Kyoko & Julian were. Their brutal experiences of the time at the hands of self-centred egotistical monsters should be remembered. The 60's: Peace, Love, Freedom & Mental Illness.
  • Jay from New Haven, CtYoko is the daughter of a wealthy Japanese banker. She originally had her sights set on Paul, who rebuffed her. Paul told John of her art show in London. What is clear is that Yoko is a cold and calculating control freak. Has everyone forgot about all those years in NYC when John was totally unproductive, writing no music? The John-Yoko relationship was twisted - he looked at her as a mother figure and even addressed her as "Mother". Her presence at Beatles recording sessions caused huge animosity and led in part to the break-up of the Beatles.
  • Kiki from Fraggle Rock, NjTo Kayla, Mid Town, Antartica

    That is very interesting and all, but I would like to know where you got your sources if that is alright. I don't know too much about Yoko, you see, so I'm not sure who to believe here, but your comment now has me quite curious.
  • Dc from Seattle, WaKayla, I did not realize all that about Yoko. It is sad, and Julian suffered so much, too. I understand that his was Yoko's idea for John to got to May Pang and Yoko made the arrangements. (?) If Chapman had not done his evil, I sincerely believe that John Lennon, not only would have been able to get away from Yoko, but his life would haver been a great example.
  • Jorge from Oakland, CaI read (a very long time ago, probably 1969) that John and Yoko met at a Yoko's pictures exhibition in NYC. Yoko was playing the piano and at the end song John remarked to her whether she could play that song backwards.. After painfully listening to Yoko's songs in Double Fantasy, it leaves no doubt that she sings the line NOT WHEN HE LOOKS SO FIERCE.
    Oh man, what a disappointment, I always thought that George played the spanish guitar reef at the intro. Of course that melotron was used for the first time by The Fab Four (specifically by Paul) in the introduction of Strawberry Fields.
    This song is a satire about all those happy trigger american mother saxon bastards that almost exterminated wildlife in Africa and India. Kudos to John at making us aware that an org like Green Peace should intervene.
  • Kayla from Mid Town, AntarticaJAMES[[Cali]]

    -Tisk, tisk my poor boy. Your perception of Yoko Ono is terribly untrue. Yoko first started stalking John when she and her second husband, Anthony Cox (who was a con-artist), moved to London. She met her second husband in Japan, after he rescued her from the insane asylum her first husband and family were keeping her in. They moved to NYC, because of the love they shared for the NYC Art Scene. Anthony unwilling packed up and moved them across sea's. They sweet talked a number of banks into spotting them royalties due to her families name, and his invention of some movies he was due to star in. Soon, they were kicked out of every home they were invited to stay in, and became destitute. Anthony set Yoko out to hook a meal ticket, thus her pursuit of John Lennon.
    Upon first meeting her, he brushed her off as nuts until she struck a cord with him by saying, "I am half a person. You are my other half, I am only complete with you. Our Karma's are destined for one another.", or something close to that. She literally stalked him for about a year. Sending poems and her art work, popping up around every corner. He eventually started sleeping with her, which is when Anthony realized he might get cut out. He proceeded to draw up a document for Yoko to sign, agreeing to split the money that she received from John down the middle. She signed.
    John was determined to save his marriage with Cynthia. Nothing seemed to help though, because of the rushed marriage of such an odd pair. John admitted his sexual escapades to Cynthia, she then packed up Jules and went to Greece. While she was gone, Yoko came to the house. The story, from his friend Peter that was staying with him, is the Two Virgins made love in his red music room all night. The next morning he was smitten, exponentially. And no one seemed to understand, because just a few weeks before he would go on and on about what a nut job she was.
    Yoko then became a his parasite, introduced him to his heroine habit, and created many conflicts amongst Apple.
    I will also say, that with Johns dark childhood, he was always in search of a bond so deep. I just believe that he found something even darker with Yoko, than that of what became of his youth.
    Years down the line when John and Yoko were residing in NYC, he had an affair with May Pang. He ran away to California(I believe) with her, but somehow made it back to Yoko. He would call May and write of how much he missed her. How Yoko was imprisoning him with her. Three days before December 8th, 1980, John had telephoned his Aunt Mimi and half sisters in England, informing him that he was due to move back home...
    Yoko, in those days, was always described as relentless. She would stop at nothing to attain her desires. I have not followed her since the 60s, so I am in no way belittling any charitable work that she has since done.

    But I suppose there is only one thing left to say: All we are saying....
  • Breanna from Henderson, NvDylan, I agree with you. It could be a jab at Paul a funny one at that.
  • Tomas from Santiago, ChileThe intro of this song is the same as the intro of the song Travel Bleary Capricorn which was composed by King Crimson in December 1969. I guess this is a regular pattern in flamenco music and neither The Beatles or King Crimson compose it.
  • Lulu from New Orleans, LaYellow Submarine has at least one woman's voice on it!
  • Dylan from Chicago, IlYoko is cool. And i am a big fan of this song, and all of disc 1 (or the first two sides on the original record). But, something i have noticed about this song is that it bears a lot of similarities with the song 'Rocky Racoon', and is possibly an attempt to counteract (maybe even mock) McCartney's outlandish narrative abilities. I think he does a good job of it, but i'm not sure if he even cared.
  • Dylan from Chicago, IlYoko is cool. And i am a big fan of this song, and all of disc 1 (or the first two sides on the original record). But, something i have noticed about this song is that it bears a lot of similarities with the song 'Rocky Racoon', and is possibly an attempt to counteract (maybe even mock) McCartney's outlandish narrative abilities. I think he does a good job of it, but i'm not sure if he even cared.
  • Ty from Phillipston, Mabirthday is also on the white album so it would of been release at the same time. i think it is referring to a nonchorus line. i know ringo was a baritone so his voice was a lot more distictive from the rest of the beatles and mabey the rest of teh chorus too
  • Jim from Richmond, VaI have a relatively deep voice but I can hit Yoko's line pretty easily with my head voice. But still, that's Yoko, not John. You can hear the Japanese accent.
    Anyway, my comment is this - is it just me or does Ringo's voice really stand out whenever there is a full chorus. Especially here and in Carry That Weight.
  • Rosario from Naples, Flaren't there female voices on "Birthday" as well or am I nuts?
  • Susan from Toronto, CanadaAs the facts say above, John wrote BUNGALOW BILL about a fellow meditation student in the Maharishi's meditation camp in India who would break off from his meditation lessons to go hunt tigers. Additional info: this student/hunter was at the camp with his mother, and he was American, which is why John sings "he always took his MOM," saying "Mom" with the American pronunciation. The British, of course, pronounce it and spell it "MUM."
  • Dirk from Nashville, TnFemale voices also appear on: I Am the Walrus.... Long and Winding Road. (The addition of which reportedly angered Paul greatly.)... Maybe one more? The point is, The Beatles rarely, rarely used female voices. THink of all the high, floating background vocals from their catalog contributed by the lads. On Bungalow Bill, the female voice is only an amusing cameo. By comparison, on I Am the Walrus, they specifically wanted a mixed boy-girl choral sound. Ditto for Long and Winding Road... but in that case, it was Phil Specter who wanted it, not the composer/singer. Compare and contrast: The number of WINGS songs on which McCartney included female back-up vocals. Was that because Paul specifically wanted his wife ooohing and aaaahing behind him on the records? Or was it merely because he no longer had George Harrison and John Lennon oooohing and ahhhing behind him with their high-pitched boyish voices?
  • Dirk from Nashville, TnNot even in the shower, singing "Hold that line! Hold that line! Block that kick! Block that kick!" ??
  • Dirk from Nashville, TnYou don't find yourself humming along with Revolution 9?
  • Peter Griffin from Quahog, RiWell, technically not, seeing as Revolution #9 is not technically a song...
  • Dirk from Nashville, TnWow. Revolution 9. That's pretty good. I wasn't even thinking of that one. Definitely has female voices on it. My compliments to Stewie and the dog. But there are a couple more.
  • Dirk from Nashville, TnThere are a couple more songs with women's voices--one big one in particular! Anyone?
  • Mznjh70 from Tokio, JapanIn answer to the trivia question,"Birthday"&"Across The Universe"
  • Dirk from Nashville, TnTrivia question below: Womens' voices on Beatles recordings... There are a couple of others.
  • Jim from Toledo, Ohlisten to Rush's la villa strangiato. the flamenco part at the beginning is almost exactly like the one on bungalow bill
  • Marty from Milwaukee, WiScott, You are wrong. The album that had John And Yoko nude on the cover was John's solo album Two Virgins. It was sold with a brown wrap which covered everything except john and yoko's faces.
  • Tom from Newark, DeIn answer to the trivia question, "Birthday" has Yoko & Patti Boyd-Harrison-Clapton-Boyd singing on the chorus
  • Dirk from Nashville, TnOK, here's a quick quiz. (I assume anybody checking out the Bungalow Bill site must be a Beatle fan.) This song has a woman's voice in it. (Yoko sings "Not when he looks so fierce." And the note above claims that Mrs. Ringo Starr sang harmony--who knew?) The quiz--name any other Beatle record that has a woman's voice on it.
  • Melissa from Fairborn, OhI love the song because the Mellotron riff almost sound like a mandolin.
  • Steve from Trumbull, CtArthur from Sydney Australia, you are wrong. The flamenco guitar IS played on the mellotron - this instrument plays tape loops and one of the lower keys, when pressed, played this flamenco guitar flourish. Overall the mellotron had 5 different sounds that were played (via tape loops). This can all be found in the Geoff Emerick book who was the recording engineer for many of the Beatles recordings.
  • Jennifer from Montclair, NjIt is very annoying when people make disparaging remarks about Yoko Ono. All she ever did wrong was to be the true love of an inspired genius. Her video art is very touching (including that made before she met John Lennon). She gave a talk at my school and was the most humble and peaceful person I have ever met. I don't think she is capable of latching onto someone for selfish reasons.
  • Kieran from Edmonton, CanadaWhen I first heard this song i thought Bungalow Bill was just a sly way of saying buffalo Bill (Eddie Gein). so if you replace all the lines with bungalow bill to buffalo bill it makes the song really really scary considering how happy it is. still when i hear this song i get kinda creeped out.
  • Johnny from Los Angeles, CaI'm really suprised that no one brought up a secret meaning for this. There's always some zany guy/girl on a chat who does that. How did Captain Marvel get there? Sometimes, In random conversation, I bring up "Captain Marvel zapped him right between the eyes.
  • Mary from Virginia Beach, VaI really think John Lennon sang "not when he looked so fierce". He could hit some high notes. Him and George both.
  • Arthur from Sydney, AustraliaI also forgot to mention this: the flamenco guitar introduction is not from the Mellotron, however at the fading finale of the song there is a trumpet melody that sounds as if it was played on keys. Sounds like a Mellotron, eh?
  • Arthur from Sydney, AustraliaScott, when I listened closely to "when he looked so fierce" at the finishing line of the "ce" sound ended when John said "His." That would be impossible for one Human.
  • Pepper from Virginia Beach, Vayoko is one of a kind but she by all accounts is a freak show
  • Carissa from La Mirada, Ca"All the children sing" Makes me laugh all the time!
  • John from Albany, Ny"So Captain Marvel zapped in right between the eyes"
    I love the way Lennon sings that line, truely a great song, even though it's somewhat of a joke.
  • Jon from Danville, CaScott might have had some crack before coming to this site, his mix up of two virgins and the white album is just frightening, and to think that the womans voice with a japanese accent is john's isn't exactly smart also...
  • Stefanie Magura from Rock Hill, Scno scott. that album was "Two Virgins" which was a solo efort by John and Yoko.
  • Stefanie Magura from Rock Hill, Scscot you're wrong on that . Yoko did sing that line.
  • James from L.a., CaYoko Ono is the daughter of a successful Japanese banker, and was exhibiting her avant-garde art all over the world well before she met John Lennon. She would've been famous in her own right if she'd never married Lennon, although she wouldn't be as recognizable as him. It can be argued that Ono also made more money than Lennon, thanks to the financial buffoonery of Brian Epstein mismanaging their money. And she obviously inspired Lennon to write some of his best songs after The Beatles broke up. Lennon used to get upset when people attributed Paul's Beatles contributions to him, and it's safe to say that it wasn't until "Imagine" that Lennon wrote a song that held up to Paul gems like "The Long & Winding Road" or "Yesterday". I mean, Lennon wrote some beautiful stuff with the Beatles but it wasn't always pop. "Imagine" is where he married pop to his idealism, and that's when he came into his own... with Yoko by his side.

    And yes, that's her on "Bungalow Bill", and I believe she's also the voice who says "you become naked" on "Revolution 9"...
  • Nicholas from Kalamazoo, MiIn response to Jo-C from Peru's comment. It COULD be yoko ono singing that line. But Scott from CA is right both John and George had incredibly high, head and falsetto voices. and it's holds the same tambre of lennon.. O and if you don't think a man can sing that high listen to Jeff Buckleys Grace album!
  • Natalia from Sydney, AustraliaThe album cover was white as a stark contrast to the Sgt Pepper album, another funny idea straight from the beatles themselves. And that does NOT sound like John Lennon in ANY WAY whatsoever.
  • Alan from New Baltimore, MiYoko sang the line. You can tell, it sounds just like her. You can hear her voice in the chorus also. Also, when the album originally came out, not only was it titled "The Beatles" but each album had its own unique number, which was discontinued by the second printing.
  • Jo-c from Lima, PeruYou're completely wrong on both of your comments Scott. It was sang by a woman, I also think it's Yoko. No man can reach that.
  • Mike from New Point, VaYoko did indeed sing "not when he looked so fierce".

    The opening guitar is not a Mellotron. It is a clip from a flamenco album. Don't know who the performer was, but it was none of the Beatles.
  • Bruce from Seattle, WaEver notice how whenever people say "God bless him" it's always followed by an insult, as if saying "God bless him" is a license to say any nasty comment without conscience?
  • Elliott from Douglassville, PaScott, the naked John & Yoko picture was a cover to a completely different album - John & Yoko's solo "Two Virgins." The White Album was never white because of censorship - it was just one of those ideas...
  • Scott from Claremont, CaOk, I hate arguing, but the white album is white because America needed a "cover" for the real white album in the UK. The real "white album" was not white, it's cover showed a black & white photo of John Lennon & Yoko Ono standing in the nude.
  • Scott from Claremont, CaNo, no, no. Yoko didn't sing "when he looked so fierce...", John did! He's is capable of reaching VERY high notes (like on "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds").
  • Joe from Allston, MaThis song is the reason I finally dared to play a record on my father's expensive, quadrophonic hi-fi without any parental supervision at age 5.
  • Dennis from Toledo, OhBungalow Bill as a character is featured in the video for the song Free As A Bird, during a scene with an Indian theme. He is there with his mum (presumably in case of accidents).
  • Gavin from Sydney, AustraliaJohn Lennons vocals in the verses simulate david bowie's to a degree. maybe an inspiration, or a coincidence
  • Shirley from Ocean, NjYou gotta respect John for loving someone like that; I think she was like a Mother figure to him. God bless him; he really did love her, but she's still riding on his coattails; and would never have become famous without him.
  • Liza from The Dalles, OrOf course she's one of a kind. Who would want to imitate her?

    Except to get John, of course.
  • Danny from Grass Valley, CaYoko is one of a kind, no one can argue that
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