Rishikesh Lennon in Rishikesh


  1. Cry Baby Cry
  2. Child Of Nature
  3. The Continuing Story Of Bungalow Bill
  4. Glass Onion
  5. Polythene Pam
  6. Julia
  7. Mean Mr. Mustard
  8. Everybody's Got Something to Hide Except For Me and My Monkey
  9. Dear Prudence
  10. Yer Blues
  11. Look at Me
  12. I'm So Tired
  13. Happiness Is A Warm Gun
  14. What's The New Mary Jane
  15. Revolution
  16. Sexy Sadie

The Rishikesh Experience

In February 1968, shortly after following a ten-day meditation course by the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in Wales, The Beatles and their wives flew to India to stay with the Indian guru at his own meditation centre in Rishikesh.

Lennon: "We were really getting away from everything. It was a sort of recluse holiday camp right at the foot of the Himalayas. It was like being up a mountain, but it was in the foothills hanging over the Ganges, with baboons stealing your breakfast and everybody flowing round in robes and sitting in their rooms for hours meditating. It was quite a trip." (1974)

For Lennon, it was a period of change. After two years of heavy drug-taking, he almost entirely sobered up during his stay: partly because LSD simply wasn't as easy to get as in London, partly because he expected the Maharishi to do miracles with his mind, helping him off his addictions. Apart from the occassional joint, for months he was free of drugs.

Another significant change came in the form of a woman: having met Yoko Ono in November 1966, and after that occassionally throughout 1967, he was now starting to fall in love with her. His marriage to Cynthia already had crumbled (during the stay they had to sleep in seperate huts, which didn't bother him), and he was ready to dive head first into the eccentric avant-garde world Ono represented. Though he had toyed with the idea of asking her to accompany him to India, in the end he hadn't the heart to do it, which made him feel restless and cut off. She did send him truckloads of postcards, most of them having cryptic messages like 'Breathe' or 'Look up in the sky - see that cloud? That's me.'

On top of all that, The Beatles' manager, Brian Epstein had died just a few months before, leaving the group in a state of insecurity they hadn't known since the days they were struggling unknowns in Liverpool.

His mind ranging from chrystal-clear to muddy, his feelings from peaceful to lonely and anxious, he poured out no less than 16 songs: some just sketches, fragments, others complete and ready to be recorded. In between them the songs varied from comments on his stay in Rishikesh (The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill, Sexy Sadie), social comment (Revolution), state-of-mind songs (I'm So Tired, Look At Me, Yer Blues) to outings of pure love (Julia) and nonsense songs (Mean Mister Mustard, Polythene Pam, What's The New Mary Jane). Nearly everything inspired a song.

Lennon: "I was in a room for five days meditating. I wrote hundreds of songs. I couldn't sleep and was hallucinating like crazy, dreams where you could smell. [...] (1974) Regardless of what I was supposed to be doing, I did write some of my best songs while I was there. [...] The funny thing about the camp was that although it was very beautiful and I was meditating about eight hours a day, I was writing the most miserable songs on earth. In Yer Blues, when I wrote I'm so lonely I want to die, I'm not kidding. That's how I felt." (1971)

Back home, The Beatles got together at George Harrison's house to record acoustic demos of their songs. What follows is a list of the 16 songs that Lennon wrote, represented in the form they were demoed in at the end of May 1968. Note that these versions may differ substantially from the official versions as found on the Beatles' 1968 album The Beatles (more commonly known as The White Album).

© 2001 Jeroen Dekker. Don't use without prior permission by the author.