“Hey Bulldog” . . . : From Forgotten Orphan To Cult Favorite

I remember when the Beatles movie “Yellow Submarine” came out. I went to see it with my older brother and a couple of his friends when I was about eleven years old. I watched and liked the Saturday morning Beatles cartoons so I thought the movie would be just like the t.v. show. Needless to say if you have ever seen Yellow Submarine and the t.v. show, you could imagine how wrong I was. I liked the story and the jokes (remember I was eleven) and I liked the bright colorful animation but some of it was just too weird for my young mind to get around. Then my brother’s friend Jordon bought the album and came over and played it for us. The big problem was that it was only half a Beatles album. Side One of the record (I’m dating myself big time by referring to records and sides) had six songs by the Beatles with two of them were already available (“Yellow Submarine” and “All You Need Is Love”). Side two was the film’s orchestral score by the band’s producer, George Martin. If my memory serves me correctly, my reaction was “What’s this crap, I remember there being more Beatles songs that this in the movie. Where are the Beatles songs?”). Of the four new songs, I remember liking Harrison’s “It’s Only A Northern Song” and Lennon’s “Hey Bulldog”. Over time, Harrison’s song has not aged particularly well but the stature of “Hey Bulldog” has increased.

“Hey Bulldog” was recorded on 11 February 1968, evolving from what was supposed to be a promotional film shoot for the single “Lady Madonna”. Indeed, the footage was later edited together for that very purpose. When Yellow Submarine was re-released in 1999, Apple went back to the original footage shot for the “Lady Madonna” promo film and restructured it for use as a promotional clip for “Hey Bulldog” (as it is possible to identify what they were playing, and therefore possible to synchronize the music with the original footage).

The Beatles – Hey Bulldog (Promo video) –

The video below gives us the interesting history of the song, from it’s inception as a John Lennon sketch of an idea (very possibly as an “answer” to McCartney’s “Lady Madonna”) to it’s orphaned status as a deep cut on the Yellow Submarine album to it’s subsequent re-evaluation in the Beatles cannon.

The Story Behind The Beatles’ “Hey Bulldog” –

Finally, the video below goes deep into the music theory of “Hey Bulldog”, from the use of the blues scale in the main piano riff, to McCartney’s bass line in the verse, to the harmonic framework of the song. Serious music theory geek stuff here (god help me but I love it so).

Understanding Hey Bulldog –


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Posted in Classic Rock, Music Appreciation and Analysis, Music Theory

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