Happiness Is A Warm Gun
The idea for this song came to John after he discovered a gun magazine belonging to George Martin that had been left lying around the studio. On the cover was the line 'Happiness Is A Warm Gun In Your Hand'. It was too good a phrase to let go and he began to toy with it. !I thought, what a fantastic thing to say!" John later remarked. "A warm gun means you've just shot something."
John had recently started living with Yoko Ono, the Japanese artist he'd first met at an exhibition of her art in 1966. By his own admission, he felt "very sexually oriented" during this period, so before long the idea for a song a warm gun had taken on sexual connotations, he gave rise to phrases about itchy trigger fingers and discharged loads.
If it was a song about anybody, it was a song about Yoko. He was the girl he held in his arms, the girl who was so smart that she didn't miss a trick and the one he always called Mother - in this case, Mother Superior.
But tagged on to the original lines were random images picked up from a night of acid tripping with Derek Taylor, Neil Aspinall and Pete Shotton at a house Taylor was renting from Peter Asher in Newdigate near Dorking in Surrey. "John said he had written half a song and wanted us to toss out phrases while Neil wrote them down," says Taylor. "First of all, he wanted to know how to describe a girl who was really smart and I remembered a phrase of my father's which was 'she's not a girl who misses much'. It sounds like faint praise but on Merseyside, in those days, it was actually the best you could get.
"Then I told a story about a chap my wife Joan and I met in the Carrick Bay Hotel on the Isle of Man. It was late one night drinking in the bar and this local fellow who liked meeting holiday makers and rapping to them suddenly said to us, 'I like wearing moleskin gloves you know. It gives me a little of an unusual sensation when I'm out with my girlfriend.' He then said, 'I don't want to go into details.' So we didn't. But that provided the line, 'She's well acquainted with the touch of the velvet hand'. Then there was 'like a lizard on a window pane'. That, to me, was a symbol of very quick movement. Often, when we were living in LA, you'd look up and see tiny little lizards nipping up in the window," continues Taylor.
"'The Man in the crowd with multi-coloured mirrors on his hobnail boots' was form something I'd seen in a newspaper about a Manchester City soccer fan who had been arrested by the police for having mirrors on the toe caps of his shoes so that he could look up girls' skirts. We thought this was an incredibly complicated and tortuous way of getting a cheap thrill and so that became 'multi-coloured mirrors' and 'hobnail boots' to fit the rhythm. A bit of poetic license," adds Taylor. "The bit about 'lying with his eyes while his hand were working overtime' came form another thing I'd read where a man wearing a cloak and fake plastic hands, which he would rest on the counter of a shop while underneath the cloak he was busy lifting things and stuffing them in a bag around his waist.
"I don't know where the 'soap impression of his wife' came from but the eating of something and then donating it 'to the National Trust' came from conversation he'd had about the horrors of walking in public spaces on Merseyside, where you were always coming across the evidence of people having crapped behind bushes and in old air raid shelters. So to donate what you've eaten to the National Trust (a British organization with responsibilities for upkeeping countryside of great beauty) was what would now be known as 'defecation on common land owned by the National Trust.' When John put it all together, it created a series of layers of images. It was like a whole mess of colour," Taylor concludes.
The Beatles had just started to record this track on the day Linda Eastman arrived in London to begin life with Paul.