The Beatles 40 best songs: at 35 “I Am The Walrus”


“I am the Walrus is one of my favorite tracks – because I did it, of course, but also because it’s one of those that has enough little bitties going to keep you interested even a hundred years later”
– John Lennon (1974)

“‘Walrus’ is just saying a dream – the words don’t mean a lot. People draw so many conclusions and it’s ridiculous… What does it really mean, ‘I am the Eggman’? It could have been the pudding basin for all I care. It’s not that serious.”
– John Lennon (1980)


I Am the Walrus” is a 1967 song by the Beatles, written by John Lennon and credited to Lennon–McCartney. The song was featured in the Beatles’ 1967 television film, as a track on the associated double EP Magical Mystery Tour and its American counterpart LP, and was the b-side to the number 1 hit single “Hello, Goodbye.” Since the single and the double EP held at one time in December 1967 the top two slots on the British singles chart, the song had the distinction of being at number 1 and number 2 simultaneously.

It was done in 17 takes, on Sep 5, 6, 27 and 28.

Single by The Beatles
A-side “Hello, Goodbye”
Released 24 November 1967
Format 7″ single
Recorded 5 September 1967, EMI Studios, London
Genre Psychedelic rock
Length 4:33
Label Parlophone
Writer(s) Lennon–McCartney
Producer(s) George Martin

Basically the original songtrack of I am the Walrus set to video footage from MMT and Beatles Anthology. Sharp-eyed male viewers might notice a couple of (not so small) enhancements from elsewhere in the MMT footage, and even a guest appearance by that well-known English eccentric Vivien Stanshall:

John Lennon: vocals, electric piano and Mellotron
Paul McCartney: bass guitar and tambourine
George Harrison: lead guitar
Ringo Starr: drums

… the choir and orchestra
The Mike Sammers Singers: J Fraser, June Day, Sylvia King, Irene King, G Mallen, Fred Lucas, Mike Redway, John O’Neill, F Dachtler, Peggie Allen, Wendy Horan, Pat Whitmore, Jill Utting, Allan Grant, D Griffiths, J Smith: Choir/Vocal effects
Sidney Sax, Jack Rothstein, Ralph Elman, Andrew McGee, Jack Greene, Louis Stevens, John Jezzard, Jack Richards: violins
Eldon Fox, Bram Martin, Lionel Ross, Terry Weil: strings
Gordon Lewin: clarinet
Tony Tunstall, Neil Sanders,  Morris Miller: horns

Lennon walrus

Pete Shotton, John’s childhood friend, said that he was very keen to turn the song into a nonsense ramble after getting a letter from Stephen Bayley, a pupil at his old primary school Quarry Bank. The letter described how a teacher was having his class analyze The Beatles’s lyrics.

Pete Shotton helped John Lennon remember  a playground rhyme from childhood:

Yellow matter custard 
green slop pie 
all mixed together with a dead dog’s eye.
Slap it on a butty
ten foot thick.
Then wash it all down with a cup of cold sick.

It turned into “Yellow matter custard, dripping from a dead dog’s eye”, followed by a stream of mostly incoherent lines in the form of a “stream of consciousness”. Let the fuckers work that one out, Lennon said.

It could very well be interpreted as a protest song, against the school-system: expert texpert, the police: pigs in a sty and Seminola Pilchard (a reference to Sergeant Pilchard), against politics: corporation teashirt, against censorship: pornographic priestess, against religion: elementary penguins singing Hare Krishna and against conformity: The whole song, both the lyrics and the arrangements.

John Lennon admitted that most of it came to him during an LSD infused weekend.

The inspiration for the title came from Lewis Carrol, John Lennon told Playboy in 1980:

“It never dawned on me that Lewis Carroll was commenting on the capitalist system. I never went into that bit about what he really meant, like people are doing with the Beatles’ work. Later, I went back and looked at it and realised that the walrus was the bad guy in the story and the carpenter was the good guy. I thought, Oh, shit, I picked the wrong guy. I should have said, ‘I am the carpenter.’ But that wouldn’t have been the same, would it?”


The BBC banned it because of the lines pornographic priestess and let your knickers down.

“Why can’t you have people fucking as well? It’s going on everywhere in the world, all the time. So why can’t you mention it? It’s just a word, made up by people… It doesn’t mean a thing, so why can’t we use it in a song? We will eventually. We haven’t started yet.”
– George Harrison (The Beatles)
It is also one of George Martin’s finest work as a producer and arranger.

I Am The Walrus (lyrics):

I am he as you are he as you are me
And we are all together
See how they run like pigs from a gun
See how they fly
I’m crying

Sitting on a cornflake
Waiting for the van to come
Corporation T-shirt, stupid bloody Tuesday
Man you’ve been a naughty boy
You let your face grow long

I am the Eggman
They are the eggmen
I am the walrus
Goo goo g’ joob (or Coo Coo Ca Choo)

Mr. City policeman sitting
Pretty little policemen in a row
See how they fly like Lucy in the sky
See how they run
I’m crying
I’m crying, I’m crying, I’m crying

Yellow matter custard
Dripping from a dead dog’s eye
Crabalocker fishwife
Pornographic priestess
Boy, you’ve been a naughty girl
You let your knickers down

I am the Eggman
They are the eggmen
I am the walrus
Goo goo g’ joob

Sitting in an English garden
Waiting for the sun
If the sun don’t come you get a tan
From standing in the English rain

I am the Eggman
“How do you do sir”
They are the eggmen
“The man maintains a fortune”
I am the walrus
Goo goo g’ joob Goo Goo Goo g’ joob  (or Coo Coo Ca Choo Coo Coo Coo Ca Choo))

Expert, texpert choking smokers
Don’t you think the joker laughs at you
(Ho ho ho hee hee hee hah hah hah)
See how they smile like pigs in a sty
See how they snide
I’m crying

Semolina Pilchard
Climbing up the Eiffel tower
Elementary penguin singing Hare Krishna
Man, you should have seen them kicking
Edgar Allen Poe

I am the Eggman
They are the eggmen
I am the walrus
Goo goo g’ joob (or…well you get it)
Goo goo goo g’ joob
Goo goo g’ joob
Goo goo goo g’ joob
Goo goo
Juba juba juba
Juba juba juba
Juba juba juba
Juba juba

Oh I’m tired, servicible villain
Set you down father, rest you

35. I Am The Walrus (written by John Lennon ~100%)
36. All My Loving (written by Paul McCartney ~100%)
37. I Want To Hold Your Hand (Lennon/McCartney – 50/50%)
38. Taxman (written by George Harrison ~100%)
39. Because (written by John Lennon ~100%)
40. All You Need Is Love (written by John Lennon ~100%)
– Egil & Hallgeir

2 thoughts on “The Beatles 40 best songs: at 35 “I Am The Walrus””

  1. Hehe, this is why I disagree with you, a lot! You’re clearly underrating this song way to much.
    Other than that, fun list – looking forward to the rest


    1. It’s hard to pick just 40 Beatles songs!

      …and it’s even harder to arrange them in a top 40 list!

      Thanks for your comment, and we are also looking forward to the rest of the list!

      – Hallgeir

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