Written by John Lennon while nearing the end of his trip to India, “Sexy Sadie” gives credit to Lennon-McCartney as usual. This 1968 song is a track on The Beatles “White Album”, of course. However, “take 6” is also on their “”Anthology 3″” album.
Release Date: 22nd November, 1968 (UK), 25th November, 1968 (US)
Recorded: 19th and 24th July, 13th and 21st August, 1968
Studio: EMI Studios, London
Track Duration: 3:15
Record Label: Apple
Producer: George Martin
Engineer: Ken Scott
John Lennon: lead and harmony vocals, rhythm guitar, also the Hammond organ
George Harrison: lead guitar, also the backing vocals
Paul McCartney: piano, bass guitar, also the backing vocals
Ringo Starr: drums, tambourine
Allegedly, the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s made some sexual advance towards actress Mia Farrow, so this inspired Lennon to write the song. Indeed, in a 1970 Rolling Stone magazine interview Lennon says:
“That’s about the Maharishi, yes. I copped out and I wouldn’t write ‘Maharishi, what have you done? You made a fool of everyone’, but now it can be told, Fab Listeners.”
Although Lennon wanted to call the song “Maharishi”, he changed the title to “Sexy Sadie” after George Harrison gave him a quiet word or two.
“John had a song he had started to write which he was singing: ‘Maharishi, what have you done?’ and I said, ‘You can’t say that, it’s ridiculous.’ I came up with the title of Sexy Sadie and John changed ‘Maharishi’ to ‘Sexy Sadie’.”
Without doubt, John Lennon was not happy at certain incidents while he was at the Indian meditation camp. It’s not surprising then that The Beatles distanced themselves publicly from the Maharishi at a later date.
Although the full story of what happened at Maharishi’s Ashram is still sketchy, and possibly will remain so, it is clear that certain band members were not happy at their association with the master and his camp.
John Lennon admits that the inspiration behind the song was from Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and said:
“I wrote it when we had our bags packed and were leaving. It was the last piece I wrote before I left India. I just called him, ‘Sexy Sadie,’ instead of (sings) ‘Maharishi what have you done, you made a fool…’ I was just using the situation to write a song, rather calculatingly but also to express what I felt. I was leaving the Maharishi with a bad taste. You know, it seems that my partings are always not as nice as I’d like them to be.”
Lennon also says that when the Maharishi asked why he was leaving, he replied, “Well, if you’re so cosmic, you’ll know why.” Of course, now it is all in a song!
Back home in England, John Lennon scratched the lyrics into a piece of wood, with the original title “Maharishi”. That original carving is now in the hands of a Beatles collector. Now wouldn’t we all like to own that!
The Beatles began recording “Sexy Sadie” on the 19th July, 1968, in Studio Two at the EMI Studios in London (7.30pm-4.00am sessions). In total, there were 21 takes on the day but none of those were suitable for the master rhythm track. However, take six of those is on their “Anthology 3” album.
John Lennon’s disgust at the Maharishi came out again to the fore while he started the sessions with the following lines:
You little twat.
Who the fuck do you think you are?
Who the fuck do you think you are?
Oh, you cunt.
The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions
On the 24th July, there was a further 23 takes, again none were suitable because the White Album needed that something special. However, on the 13th August, they cracked it with the final take of seven.
With further overdubbing and reduction mixing on the chosen take, “Sexy Sadie” was finally complete.