Analyzing Difficult Songs—I am the Walrus (not for the faint of heart!)

Today’s analysis comes from my first request!

I am the Walrus is a very unique piece of music from the Beatles on their Magical Mystery Tour. The only apt way to describe the lyrics to this song is insane. Were these guys on drugs? Of course they were on drugs! This is Lennon and McCartney we’re talking about! Acid trips! Woah, man!

Nothing to see here. Carry on. Nothing to see…

Nothing to see here. Carry on. Nothing to see…

Lyrically, this is a fun song. The verse that has always caught me is “Yellow mother custard, dripping from a dead dog’s eye.” Why a mother would serve custard to her children on the surface of a dead dog’s face is beyond me, but no matter, it is what it is and it paints one hell of an image. Much like an acid trip, as hard as it is to stay focused on the main subject of the song, you have to go down rabbit trails to see the whole path. Which leads me to what I believe is the main thrust of this song: Sexual Deviancy.

Yes, the Fab Four were up to some weird things in those days. Hallucinogens mixed with a publicly abandoned sense of inhibition leads to journeys down dark alleys, friends. So let’s get right into it, but be warned, this analysis is not for the faint hearted.

“I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together” should be the dead giveaway to this song’s theme. First words. First lyric. Obviously, this describes an orgy, and the only restraints are the ones these guys volunteered to wear. When Lennon says “see how they run like pigs from a gun” he describes the police showing up because of noise complaints, and upon discovering the scene, left with great haste.

The chorus is central to my thesis. “I am the eggman, they are the eggmen, I am the walrus, goo goo g’joob”. Eggman is first a metaphor for ejaculate, and second an objectification of men as simply sperm producers. I have to give the fellas credit with this one as usually it is the fairer sex that is objectified in music and they were all for leveling the playing field. Well played, Boys.

But you ask, how is egg referring to men? It is not the difference between egg & sperm that is described, but rather the properties of ejaculate and how they resemble eggs in their appearance and texture. In the song Hotel Room Service by Pitbull, he says “I’m the plumber of the night, let me check your pipes, oh you’re the healthy type. Well, here goes some egg whites.” Henry Rollins, in an old Spoken Word tape I had in the 90s made a joke about masturbating in the bathroom and trying to wash the stuff off in hot water. He said something along the lines of “it boils like egg white and just sticks to you.” Need I say more? “Goo goo g’joob.” That should do it. As far as the walrus goes… have you ever seen a walrus mate? Me neither, but I’m willing to bet it’s pretty similar to a wild orgy.

Here’s some more proof if you’re still in denial:

  • “Man, you been a naughty boy, you let your face grow long” refers to the growth of a beard. This was a huge break with society then and immediately identified the wearer as a no-goodnik and someone of great promiscuity.
  • “Crabalocker fishwife, pornographic priestess, boy you been a naughty girl you let your knickers down.” Any reference to fish is a woman’s genitalia, if the priestess bit doesn’t give it away. Who knows what a crabalocker is… ? And the last bit probably has something to do with Paul dressing up like a girl and teasing John. Or maybe Ringo. Yeah, probably him.
  • “Waiting for the sun” and “get a tan from standing in the English rain.” I can’t even put into words what this is about, but I’m sure it’s not pretty.

Certainly this song is quite disgusting and you’ll never hear it the same way again, but I believe that there is a zen-like quality to it, and I’m going to try to pull it back from its dark abyss in much the same way descending from an acid trip washes away the dark recesses of your mind letting the sun in once again. I am certain that this is written as a reflection on a period of their lives that simply was, neither good nor bad, but just existed in a moment within the confines of space and time. Another important repetition is crying. There’s a lot of crying in the song, and I can only imagine it comes from a sense of the loss of innocence.

I believe this idea to be further emphasized in the final verse: “man, you should’ve seen them kicking Edgar Allan Poe.” This tells us that the people this song is written about absolutely hated what Poe’s dark poetry represented and they refused to believe that people would be so cruel in fiction and reality. In their efforts to embrace the single most unifying act between people, freely sharing love, they attempted to deny the pain that humanity brings upon itself. This verse is the proclamation that the pain of the world needs to be destroyed with love. Typical of their era, the Beatles decried war, torture, and anguish. While they went a little off the deep end on the other side of the pendulum (Hi, Poe), their efforts were noble(ish). I can give them that spending a couple of days cleaning up the awful mess they describe is better than suturing wounds and burying the dead.

Ultimately, I am the Walrus is just another song by a bunch of damned hippies promoting free love and the end of war. A rather graphic song, but nonetheless, a notedly positive song in effort if not in imaging.

A big thanks goes out to Jerry Ford, accomplished author, imbiber, and ladies man. Without his request, I’d probably be writing about some godawful Beach Boys song like In My Room. Be sure to check out his amazing blog – Just Ask Jerry – and Lulu page for his books. He’s an entertaining fellow worthy of your time.

Send your requests to me at fnkymonk at iCloud dot com and I’ll slaughter any fond memories and ideals of your favorite songs too.