On a Mysterious Song

A few days ago I received Anthology Plus, a Beatles bootleg album, in the mail. For once, eBay came through. ;)

In terms of discovering something new about the Beatles, I’m not sure that I did. There’s a fair bit of live tracks from their early career, and it is intriguing to hear “One After 909” as they played it live in their early career. A blues-tinged “I Saw Her Standing There” is intriguing. The orchestral score for “Strawberry Fields Forever” is pretty nifty, too. And there’s a really up-tempo version of “Two of Us,” one of my favorite Beatles songs.

As I wrote, Anthology Plus is a really nice package. It won’t feel out of place among my other Beatles CDs. :)

So, naturally, thoughts turn to… What next?

When in doubt, turn to Wikipedia, and their article on Beatles bootlegs. Reading through the article I noticed an interesting note:

Peace of Mind“: Supposedly a demo recorded around 1967 and found by bootlegers in a trash can at Abbey Road Studios. Many audiophiles claim the outtake was either from Pink Floyd or The Pretty Things

That sounded intriguing. Probably a fake, Wiki said, but no one was sure who did it.

The song is here, attached to a video of Sgt Pepper-era Beatles film footage.

And it is a bizarre song. The lyrics, as best I can decipher them:

I’m looking at the candle,
  Burns a flame to meet the sky.
I heed the candle laughing,
  I turn my face to cry,
A safety pin returns my smile,
  I nod a brief hello,
While you are building molecules
  With your garden hoe.

Why can’t this last forever,
  These things repressed inside,
One feels it almost instantly,
  Unless the novice died,
It’s over, it’s done,
  Babe I need it again,
Just please, please please
  Oh, don’t keep me from begin.

I need to hear the colors
  Red and blue, unwhispered words,
To fly all day and sing a tune,
  And not hear what I’ve heard,
To see you all around me,
  And to take you by the hand,
And lead you to a brand new world,
  That lately has been banned.

We’ll build things never built before,
  We’ll do things never done,
And just before it’s over,
  It’s really just begun.

Naturally, I needed to find out more.

And no one knows where this song came from. Some argue passionately that it’s a Beatles demo. While others argue that it’s clearly not the Beatles. Maybe it’s Pink Floyd. Maybe it’s a bunch of stoned kids trying to sound like Pink Floyd.

So what it is?

“Peace of Mind” does, at least to my ears, sound Beatle-ish. Of course, I’m the person who spent years believing that Van Morrison’s “Brown Eyed Girl” was actually Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones. Oh, and that some Bob Dylan songs were actually Sonny Bono. Perhaps my ears aren’t a finely tuned instrument. On the other hand, there’s a track on Anthology Plus — a performance of “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” — that I can tell instantly is not the Beatles, because the vocalist sounds nothing like Dr. Winston O’Boogie.

“Peace of Mind,” then. It’s an intriguing piece of psychedelia, that’s for certain. It sounds like something the Beatles conceivably could have done.

I like it. :)

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