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"SHE CAME IN THROUGH THE BATHROOM WINDOW"
(John Lennon – Paul McCartney)
When most people become the victim of a crime, such as burglary, the police are called and the perpetrators are pursued with the intent of being prosecuted. However, if you are a victim of such a crime but you happen to be a songwriter and member of the most popular recording act in the world, you apparently write a song about it instead.
When interviewed in September of 1969 by Australian DJ Tony McArthur, John Lennon indicated that "She Came In Through The Bathroom Window" began being written mid-May of 1968. He stated, "It was when Paul and I went to America to publicize Apple about two years ago, and we were just in the flat we were staying in and he just came out with that line, 'she came in through the bathroom window.' So, he had it for years, and he eventually finished it."
John and Paul's visit to New York City was to officially unveil the group's Apple Corps venture via a series of interviews with the press, including a press conference at the Americana Hotel, a business meeting aboard a Chinese “Junk” while it was sailing around the Statue of Liberty, and an appearance on the NBC-TV show “The Tonight Show,” guest-hosted by baseball star Joe Garagiola in the absence of Johnny Carson. Their visit stretched from May 11th to 15th, 1968, so the song began being written during these five days.
Prior to these five days of activity, an interesting event at Paul's St. John's Wood home had happened involving a small group of “Apple Scruffs,” a term coined by The Beatles referring to female fans who constantly hung around waiting for the group by their studios, Apple headquarters and sometimes their homes. Diane Ashley, one of these devotees, explains the events of a certain day at Paul's house. “We were bored, he was out, and so we decided to pay him a visit,” she related to Steve Turner for his book “A Hard Day's Write.” “We found a ladder in his garden and stuck it up at the bathroom window which he'd left slightly open. I was the one who climbed up and got in.” She then went to the front door to allow a few other fellow “Scruffs” access to their hero's home. “I don't regret any of it,” she adds. “I had a great time, a really great time!”
Another “Apple Scruff” named Margo Bird continues the story: “They rummaged around and took some clothes. People didn't usually take anything of real value but I think this time a lot of photographs and negatives were taken. There were really two groups of 'Apple Scruffs' – those who would break in and those who would just wait outside with cameras and autograph books. I used to take Paul's dog for a walk and got to know him quite well. I was eventually offered a job at Apple. I started by making the tea and ended up in the promotions department working with Tony King.”
While employed at The Beatles' Apple Corporation, Paul took advantage of Margo's presence by asking for her assistance in getting some of his possessions back. “I knew who had done it and I discovered that a lot of the stuff had already gone to America,” she recalls. “But I knew that there was one picture he particularly wanted back – a color-tinted picture of him in a Thirties frame. I knew who had taken this and got it back for him.” Ian MacDonald's book “Revolution In The Head” claims that the stolen photograph that was then recovered was actually of Paul's father, which would make sense if it was a “color-tinted” photo that would have originally been taken in black-and-white and then housed in a “Thirties frame,” as Margo relates.
Diane Ashley, the fan who actually entered the McCartney residence through his bathroom window, was quite surprised to hear that Paul included this event in the lyrics of a Beatles song. “I didn't believe it at first because he'd hated it so much when we broke in. But then I suppose anything can inspire a song, can't it? I know that all his neighbors rang him when they saw we'd got in and I'm sure that gave rise to the lines, 'Sunday's on the phone to Monday, Tuesday's on the phone to me.'” Her assumption about the significance of these lyrics seems to be confirmed by a rehearsal of the song by The Beatles on January 9th, 1969, which ends with Paul reenacting a phone call saying: 'Hello, this is Tuesday speaking. Is that Paul? I'd like to have a word with you.” John then continues with, “I've got something of interest in the garden.”
The song was not entirely written during their May 1968 visit to New York City, this being apparent by an event that happened during a cab ride taken by Paul and girlfriend Linda Eastman to Kennedy Airport in New York City in late 1968. The two of them went on a two week vacation just after the “White Album” was readied for release and, while in transit to the airport for their return flight to London, Paul noticed the driver's identification panel displayed in the cab. It identified the driver as, “Eugene Quits, New York Police Dept.” McCartney, who reportedly had his guitar with him at the time, came up with the line “and so I quit the police department and got myself a steady job,” humorously insinuating that driving a cab was more steady employment than being a police officer.
While a good portion of the remaining lyrics can be attributed to Paul filling out the details of his robbery with imaginary details, such as her being “a dancer” who works at “fifteen clubs a day” and “could steal but she could not rob,” the rest of the lyrics to the song appear to be cryptic or inside jokes, the meaning of which has never been revealed. How the intruder was “protected by a silver spoon,” and why she “wanders by the banks of her own lagoon,” we may never know.
What we do know is that, evidenced by their rehearsals and run-throughs of the song during the recording of what became their “Let It Be” album, the lyrics were complete by January of 1969. John has never claimed any part of the authorship to the song, so this track is established as a McCartney-only composition.
Paul may have begun writing "She Came In Through The Bathroom Window" in May of 1968, but it was in no way ready for consideration for inclusion on their next album at the time, namely, the "White Album." If it had been, Paul would most likely had included the song in the demos they recorded at George's 'Kinfauns' home in late May of that year. In fact, no actual demo of the song has ever surfaced.
Instead, Paul appears to have first introduced the song to his band on January 6th, 1969, the third day of rehearsals at Twickenham Film Studios for what eventually became the “Let It Be” film and soundtrack album. He directed The Beatles through seven run-throughs of the song toward the end of the session on this day, teaching John and George the chords along the way. Being this early in the rehearsals for this project, Paul undoubtedly considered this a strong contender for the “Let It Be” project at the time.
The group became more and more familiar with the song in the rehearsals that followed, four versions of it being done on January 7th, one aimless version performed on January 8th, and seven more on January 9th. By this time, the band had worked out the arrangement of the song quite nicely, John joining in proficiently on harmony vocals during the choruses. The instrumentation during these rehearsals were Paul on bass on lead vocals, John on piano and harmony vocals, George on his Fender Telecaster run through a Leslie speaker and wah pedal, and Ringo on drums.
The Beatles got quite silly during the rehearsals on January 9th, one version being documented by a technician to have happened at “one o'clock” that was counted out by Paul in German and featuring some lead vocals by John in a thick Cockney accent. Paul would then provide off-the-cuff responses to fill in the spaces left after each of John's lead vocal lines, such as “a bloody spoon, a bloody spoon, a bloody silver spoon.” The second verse has Paul return as lead vocalist, altering the lyrics to “and though she thought I had the answer, I just had to sail away.” The third verse then included this Paul / John interchange:
Paul: “And so I quit the police department.”
John: “Get a job, cop!”
Paul: “And got myself a proper job.”
John: “Bloody 'bout time too, if you ask me.”
Paul: “And though she tried her best to help me.”
John: “You bloody need it, too.”
After a week break from rehearsals (which included George temporarily quitting The Beatles) they reconvened in Apple Studios on Saville Row to resume work in preparation for the "Let It Be" project. Five versions of “She Came In Through The Bathroom Window” were included on their first day back, January 21st, 1969, these performances being quite plodding and less spirited but still satisfying.
One of the rehearsals on this day was featured on the 1996 released compilation album “Anthology 3,” although it was misidentified as happening on January 22nd. The instrumentation is the same as before, the exception being John playing a Fender Rhodes electric piano instead of an acoustic piano as before. Interestingly, the structure of the song at this point was 'verse/ chorus/ verse/ chorus/ verse/ chorus/ chorus' (or abababb), which was altered many months later since it would become more of a truncated version of the song for inclusion in the long “Abbey Road” medley.
At the conclusion of this run-through of the song, as included on “Anthology 3,” Paul commends John's performance on electric piano by saying: “See, what you were doing then, that sounded like, that's the kind of thing that would be nice, to have one of the verses like that. Like a classical...(demonstrates)...you know, that kind of variation that it needs a bit.”
Paul still felt confident about the song being included in the “Let It Be” project throughout the following week, the group running through it again once on January 24th and then five more times on January 29th, the day before the famous live rooftop performance. However, despite all their hard work on the song, The Beatles deemed the song unsuitable for the roof show as well as the final studio sessions on January 31st. Thereafter, “She Came In Through The Bathroom Window” was shelved for the time being.
Then came the May 1969 brainstorm from Paul to incorporate unfinished and unrecorded compositions into one long medley to fill a full side of an album, this idea being incorporated onto their next album, “Abbey Road.” “She Came In Through The Bathroom Window” was an obvious candidate for this project, so Paul dusted it off and worked it into the medley following John's unfinished composition “Polythene Pam,” both compositions being recorded together with an appropriate segue that the band would compose together.
The first recording session for the “Polythene Pam / She Came In Through The Bathroom Window” section of the medley occurred on July 25th, 1969 in EMI Studio Two, the session beginning at 2:30 pm. After the group performed overdubs onto “Sun King,” “Mean Mr. Mustard” and “Come Together,” the primary focus of the session was recording the rhythm track of this new composite medley section. It took 39 takes of the rhythm track until they were happy with the results, the instrumentation being Paul on bass and guide vocals, John on 12-string acoustic guitar, George on his Gibson Les Paul, and Ringo on drums. “They were fun tracks to record, and the ensemble playing was superb,” engineer Geoff Emerick recounts about this session in his book “Here, There And Everywhere.”
After 'take 39' was deemed suitable at around 10:30 pm, Ringo then replaced his drum part at John's request (see the Recording History section for “Polythene Pam” for more details) and Paul re-recorded his bass part as well as added a lead vocal overdub. This took the session to 2:30 am the following morning, leaving more overdub work for another day.
Those additional overdubs began on July 28th, 1969, in EMI Studio Three at 2:30 pm. Paul double-tracked his lead vocal performance on this day as well as added some electric and acoustic piano parts, instruments that John had played in their January rehearsals of the song. Mark Lewisohn's book “The Beatles Recording Sessions” also stipulate that both acoustic and electric guitars were overdubbed on this day, undoubtedly played by John and George respectively, as well as tambourine and “other bits of percussion,” such as handclaps presumably from Paul and cowbell and maracas as heard on the finished recording, these no doubt being played by Ringo. The session ended at 8 pm, although they convened in the control room of EMI Studio Two for the next half hour to facilitate the engineering team doing a tape reduction to open up more tracks for yet more overdubs, this turning 'take 39' into 'take 40.' This brought the session's conclusion to 8:30 pm.
The final overdubs to “She Came In Through The Bathroom Window” occurred on July 30th, 1969, in EMI Studio Three, this session beginning at 3:30 pm. After overdubbing another guitar onto “Come Together,” John, Paul and George added their harmony vocals as well as guitar and percussion overdubs onto “Bathroom Window” before turning their attention to adding more vocals onto two other sections of the long “Abbey Road” medley. With this complete, everyone filed into the control room of EMI Studio Two at 10:30 pm to put together a make-shift edit of the segments of the medley to see how they all fit together. The first step in doing this was to create quick stereo mixes of each segment, these mixes being made by producer George Martin and engineers Geoff Emerick, Phil McDonald and John Kurlander. They then took to editing all the segments together and, with some slight alterations, were quite happy with the results. By 2:30 am the following morning, this session ended. This also ended the recording of “She Came In Through The Bathroom Window.”
Then came creating the perfected stereo mix of the song that would be released, as well as the perfected editing of the track into the full “Abbey Road” medley. Both of these things happened on August 14th, 1969, in the control room of EMI Studio Two in a 12-hour session that stretched from 2:30 pm to 2:30 am the following morning. Amongst other stereo mixes for the medley, as well as an edit piece for “Maxwell's Silver Hammer” and a recorded John Lennon interview with Kenny Everett, it took thirteen attempts to get a suitable stereo mix for “Polythene Pam / She Came In Through The Bathroom Window,” these designated as remixes 20 through 32. With Paul's piano overdubs buried in the mix, 'take 32' was deemed best, this then being suitably edited together with 'remix 22' of “Sun King / Mean Mr. Mustard,” these mixes and editing being performed by George Martin and engineers Geoff Emerick, Phil McDonald and Alan Parsons.
Sometime in 1996, George Martin and Geoff Emerick reconvened to create a mix of the January 21st, 1969 rehearsal of the song, as detailed above, for inclusion on the “Anthology 3” album.
On October 1st, 1969, the final recorded Beatles album was released in America, simply titled "Abbey Road." "She Came In Through The Bathroom Window" is the seventh track on side two of the album and the fifth named track of the long medley that takes up the majority of this second side of the album. The "Abbey Road" album took only three weeks to jump into the top spot on the Billboard album chart, raking in a total of eleven weeks in the #1 position. The album first appeared on compact disc on October 10th, 1987, and then as a re-mastered release on September 9th, 2009.
Sometime in 1978, Capitol re-released the “Abbey Road” album as a picture disc. Side one had the iconic front cover while side two contained a close-up of the wall photo of the back cover minus the song title listings. This release quickly went out of print and has become a collector's item.
October 28th, 1996 was the release date for the album “Anthology 3” which contains the rehearsal of “She Came In Through The Bathroom Window” that they performed on January 21st, 1969 in preparation for its tentative inclusion in the “Let It Be” project. It ultimately didn't made the grade for the film or soundtrack album, but makes for interesting listening.
Since they opted not to include the song in their live rooftop performance on January 30th, 1969, and the group never played live again, “She Came In Through The Bathroom Window” never saw a Beatles concert stage.
Paul McCartney, however, decided to include the song in his 2005 “The 'US' Tour,” which ran from September 16th (Miami, Florida) to November 30th (Los Angeles, California) of that year. The song was performed as a medley with his solo track “Too Many People,” which was originally from his classic 1971 album "Ram." Interestingly, Paul didn't think that the original "oh yeah" conclusion to "Bathroom Window" had a satisfying note of finality, so he thought that a reprise of the song's title from the beginning of the track was necessary.
With a title like "She Came In Through The Bathroom Window" standing out on the track listing on the back of the album cover, the song was bound to attract attention. And attract it did. British singer Joe Cocker immediately recorded a cover version, his rendition becoming his first U.S. Top 40 hit (peaking at #30). Others quickly followed suit, such as parody artist Ray Stevens who included his version on his successful album "Everything Is Beautiful," as well as covers by Ike and Tine Turner, The Youngbloods and The Bee Gees.
The consensus was in that the song stood out nicely on the album and made a good impression on most. Even George Harrison agreed: “This is a very good song of Paul's, with good lyrics.”
“She Came In Through The Bathroom Window”
Written by: John Lennon / Paul McCartney
- Song Written: May 1968 to January 6, 1969
- Song Recorded: July 25, 28 & 30, 1969
- First US Release Date: October 1, 1969
- First US Album Release: Apple #SO-383 “Abbey Road”
- British Album Release: Apple #PCS 7088 “Abbey Road”
- US Single Release: n/a
- Highest Chart Position: n/a
- Length: 1:58
- Key: A major
- Producer: George Martin
- Engineers: Geoff Emerick, Phil McDonald, John Kurlander
Instrumentation (most likely):
- Paul McCartney - Lead and Backing Vocals, Bass (1964 Rickenbacker 4001 S ), Piano (1905 Steinway Vertegrand), Electric Piano (1968 Fender Rhodes Seventy-Three Sparkle Top), handclaps
- John Lennon - Rhythm Guitar (1964 Framus Hootenanny 5/024 Acoustic 12- string), backing vocals
- George Harrison - Lead Guitars (1957 Gibson Les Paul Standard, 1968 Fender Rosewood Telecaster), backing vocals
- Ringo Starr - Drums (1968 Ludwig Hollywood Maple), tambourine, maracas, cowbell
Written and compiled by Dave Rybaczewski
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