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Paul McCartney Has to ‘Split’ Himself in Half to Sing 1 ‘Sgt. Pepper’ Song

Considering the complexity of The Beatles‘ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, it makes sense that Paul McCartney has some difficulty singing one of its songs. He said he was instrumental in writing the song. John Lennon might have told a different story.

1 ‘Sgt. Pepper’ song is a vocal challenge for Paul McCartney
During a 2017 interview with Rolling Stone, the “Silly Love Songs” star discussed performing a Sgt. Pepper song live. “I also like doing ‘For the Benefit of Mr. Kite!’ [sic] that’s nice to do,” he said. “With ‘Mr. Kite,’ the thing about it is, it’s quite challenging cause the bass part goes somewhere that the vocal doesn’t go. So it’s like you’ve got to split your body in half and send one half to do the vocal and send the other half to do the bass part. That’s good to do; it’s quite hard to do.”

“Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!” is one of the most unusual songs on Sgt. Pepper. It was probably the only attempt to make a pop song inspired by circus music until Melanie Martinez released her album Cry Baby. The track combines the spectacular nature of a carnival with the eerie mystery of psychedelia.

How a poster inspired ‘Sgt. Pepper’
Paul wanted to set the record straight about “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!” “Well, the great thing is, everyone says, ‘John Lennon wrote the lyrics,’” he said. “John and I wrote the lyrics.” The tune is credited to the Lennon-McCartney songwriting partnership. However, plenty of songs that were only written by John or Paul were credited to both of them.

The “Band on the Run” singer recalled his version of the events that led to the song’s creation. “I went ’round to John’s house — and I don’t feel like I’m getting paranoid defending my corner, but the actual fact is we sat in his room and said, ‘OK, what are we gonna write?’” Paul remembered. “He said, ‘You seen this poster?’ So we pulled most of the words directly off the poster, and then we filled in. But we did it together.” Paul likes singing the song live as a way of claiming it as his own.

John Lennon didn’t give Paul McCartney any credit for the song
The book All We Are Saying: The Last Major Interview with John Lennon and Yoko Ono features an interview from 1980. In it, John discussed the origin of “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!” The “Imagine” singer said he bought a Victorian circus poster at a junk store that provided the impetus for the song. He had positive memories of the song, calling it “a pure watercolor.” Despite Paul’s protestations, John didn’t mention writing the song with help from anyone else.

John noted that “Henry the Horse,” a character in the song, had been interpreted as a metaphor for heroin. John said he had never seen heroin when he wrote the track. This controversy was part of a trend in the music of the 1960s. Fans interpreted plenty of avant-garde songs from that decade, such as Donovan’s “Mellow Yellow,” Peter, Paul and Mary’s “Puff, the Magic Dragon,” and even The Beatles’ “Yellow Submarine” as being about drugs even when that does not seem to have been the artists’ intent.

“Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!” is a great tune even if Paul has difficulty singing it!

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