“Mean Mr Mustard”, is indeed another song by The Beatles from their long Abbey Road medley on side 2. In short, John Lennon says that inspiration for the song come from a newspaper article about a miser. However, he also says that it was a “bit of crap” he wrote while in India!
Recorded: 24th, 25th, 29th July, 1969
Studio: EMI Studios, London
Track Duration: 1:06
Record Label: Apple
Producer: George Martin
Engineers: Geoff Emerick, Phil McDonald
Mean Mr Mustard
Written by John Lennon during his stay at Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s Ashram in India while studying Transcendental Meditation, he says inspiration for the song came about from a newspaper article. That story was about a Scrooge who didn’t want to spend his money so he would hide it. However, Lennon didn’t see it as anything special:
“That’s me, writing a piece of garbage. I’d read somewhere in the newspaper about this mean guy who hid five-pound notes, not up his nose but somewhere else. No, it had nothing to do with cocaine”.
All We Are Saying, David Sheff
When the Beatles returned to the UK from India, they had a stack of songs to finish and record. Many of these ended up as demo versions from Kinfauns which was George Harrison’s home in Esher, Surrey. One of these demos is a copy of “Mean Mr Mustard” and that version is on their 1996 album, “Anthology 3”
The original lyrics had Shirley as the sister of Mean Mr Mustard but Lennon changed it to Pam because the next song on the long medley was “Polythene Pam“.
“In Mean Mr Mustard I said ‘his sister Pam’ – originally it was ‘his sister Shirley’ in the lyric. I changed it to Pam to make it sound like it had something to do with it [the next song on the medley]. They are only finished bits of crap that I wrote in India”.
With Abbey Road taking shape, “Her Majesty” was originally going to be the next track after “Mean Mr Mustard”. However, Paul McCartney decided that this combination didn’t quite work but “Polythene Pam” would.
The end chord of “Mean Mr Mustard” would perfectly segue into “Her Majesty”. However, because of the reordering of the tracks there’s a hard edit that leads into “Polythene Pam”. As a result, the end chord from “Mustard” makes up the beginning chord of “Her Majesty”. There is a full version of this song, complete with the clean ending in the The Beatles: Rock Band video game.
The Beatles began recording the song on the 24 July, 1969, together with “Sun King“. This took place in Studio Two of the EMI Studios in London during the 2.30pm-10.30pm sessions. There were 35 takes that day with the last one being suitable for the Rhythm track.
Overdubbing and further tweaking took place on the next day and on the 29th July in order to complete the song.