“She Said She Said” from Revolver
From When We Find Ourselves in Times of Trouble: The Beatles (All their songs with encouraging words for challenging times) By Tim Hatfield
This was the last song recorded for the Revolver album, a John Lennon song with some help from George, and harked back to a strange incident in a rented home in Los Angeles while the Beatles were doing several concerts on the West coast.
LSD and The Byrds
Roger McGuinn and David Crosby of the Byrds were among a bunch of people in the home that day for an LSD party with the Beatles (all except Paul, who abstained). At one point, George Harrison said he was afraid he was dying, and actor Peter Fonda, also present and tripping, did what he could to reassure George that he would be OK. But he also went on at some length about how he had almost died when he was a young boy, and then said, “I know what it’s like to be dead.”
When I Was A Boy
John Lennon heard him and went ballistic; he didn’t want anyone to be talking to his friend about being dead, let alone some guy in sunglasses who he didn’t know. But Fonda’s one-liner proved to be very generative – it stuck with Lennon, who changed “he” to “she” and softened his rage so that early iterations of the lyrics also were more even, more accessible. By the time that George stopped by John’s house one day the next year, John had fragments of more than one song he was working with, including one about childhood innocence (“When I was a boy everything was right”) that George helped him combine into what would that be the final version of “She Said She Said.”
McCartney Opted Out
It may be no coincidence that, as at the party in California, McCartney opted out of this song as well, one of the only Beatles tracks on which he does not appear at all. The song is officially attributed to Lennon/McCartney, but it would have been more accurate to describe it as a Lennon/Harrison piece. McCartney recalled in Many Years from Now,
I think we’d had a barney [a noisy quarrel]…and they [John, George, and Ringo] said, “Well, we’ll do it.” I think George played bass.
George Played Bass
And they did. John sang lead, played rhythm guitar, and added a track on a Hammond organ; George did the harmonies, played a raspy, sitar-like lead guitar, and played the bass guitar track; and Ringo’s drumming was described by Rolling Stone as “spirited.”
It would not be much of a stretch, I think, to say that we have been living in a surreal time in 2020 and 2021. No LSD is necessary for us. And we – the collective WE – need to persevere and do something about our major national challenges before (how many more?) people know, quite literally, what it’s like to be dead.
When We Find Ourselves in Times of Trouble: The Beatles: All Their Songs with Encouraging Words for Challenging Times
KINDLE (OR DOWNLOAD THE FREE APP TO READ ON YOUR LAPTOP)
This book addresses all the songs of the Beatles, from their earliest demos to Abbey Road, in a conversational, accessible format. Special attention is devoted to the band’s creative process and its influence on and synergistic relationship with the culture at large. The book’s genesis was the author’s hope that a daily Beatles song could provide a brief respite from the significant stress and uncertainty caused by the coronavirus pandemic, and beyond that, from the challenges of any personally difficult time – our times of trouble.