Monday, July 16, 2012

The Beatles' Sexual Superpower

Paul Gambaccini, "The Rolling Stone Interview: Paul McCartney," Rolling Stone, 31 January 1974, p. 40.

[Paul McCartney:] Then the this-little-bit-if-you-play-it-backwards stuff. As I say, nine times out of ten it's really nothing. Take the end of Sgt. Pepper, that backward thing, "We'll fuck you like Supermen." Some fans came around to my door giggling. I said, "Hello, what do you want?" They said, "Is it true, that bit at the end? Is it true? It says 'We'll fuck you like Supermen.' " I said, "No, you're kidding. I haven't heard it, but I'll play it." It was just some piece of conversation that was recorded and turned backwards. But I went inside after I'd seen them and played it studiously, turned it backwards with my thumb against the motor, turned the motor off and did it backwards. And there it was, sure as anything, plain as anything. "We'll fuck you like Supermen." I thought, Jesus, what can you do?

[McCartney also discusses this incident in Barry Miles' Paul McCartney: Many Years From Now (New York: Henry Holt, 1997), p. 332, where the declaration is said to sound like "We'll fuck you like Superman" (singular). In this version he remembers inviting the fans inside to hear the record being played backward. -- bc]

I had quite a few visitors there, but these kids came in one day and said, 'What's all that swearing when it goes backwards on the end of the loop about?' I said, 'No, it doesn't, it says, "It really couldn't be any other." ' They said, 'It does do it, though, we've done it.' I said, 'No, it bloody doesn't.' I said, 'Well, come in, look, we'll get my record player.' We put the record on, then you could turn the turntable backwards. It probably hurt the motor, but you could turn it backwards, and sure enough, it said something like 'We'll fuck you like Superman; We'll fuck you like Superman. We'll fuck you like Superman.' I said, 'Oh, my Gawwd!' That kind of stuff does happen. That's why you can explore the accident. But that was far out. We had certainly had not intended to do that but probably when you turn anything backwards it sounds like something ... if you look hard enough you can make something out of anything.