Record sleeve image

Happiness Is A Warm Gun

The Beatles

22nd November 1968 (LP)

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Writing about the Safari EP by The Breeders reminded me that I had long planned to mention this song for a while. It’s by far my favourite song by The Beatles - the connection with The Breeders is that they did an ok cover on their first LP Pod.

Lennon apparently took the title of the song from an NRA magazine - “I just thought it was a fantastic, insane thing to say. A warm gun means you just shot something”. The magazine itself was paraphrasing the title of a Charles M Schultz book “Happiness Is A Warm Puppy”.

The meaning of the metaphorical gun in the song has been interpreted as being about heroin (after all, the lyric includes the phrase “I need a fix...”), or about sex.

This is one of those songs constructed from various disparate ideas glued together. The song changes key and time signature on a whim. The song tends to be considered to be split into five sections:

  • Intro, “She’s not a girl who misses much”.

  • The band joins in, “She’s well-acquainted with the touch of the velvet hand”

  • “I need a fix ’cause I’m going down”

  • “Mother Superior jumped the gun”

  • The “doo wop” section (“Bang bang shoot shoot” etc)

The Mother Superior section is the most complex rythmically.

This is a song where the “parts” are all pretty interesting, and yet summing them together adds a extra layer of interest on top. For me, by far the finest hour (well 3 minutes) of The Beatles.