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Saturday, 5 October 2019

Which Beatles song was inspired by a Sardinian sea captain?

Photo by Serena Repice Lentini on Unsplash
I'd like to be under the sea
In an octopus's garden in the shade

Abbey Road was not a happy working environment during the recording sessions for The White Album. Ringo, the least involved in the squabbling and backbiting, suffered the most from the emotional fall out:
I couldn't take it any more. There was no magic and the relationships were terrible. I'd come to a bad spot in life. It could have been paranoia, but I just didn't feel good – I felt like an outsider. Ringo, Anthology
Things came to a head during  a recording session for Back in the USSR on the 22nd of August, 1968. The precise trigger point is unknown but at some point Ringo snapped. After telling John and Paul he was leaving the group, he walked out of the studio.

At first, Ringo's departure seemed to confirm the underlying reason for it. The others assumed that their drummer's 'resignation' was not seriously intended. They continued the recording session.

Sardinia

The next day Ringo took his family on holiday to Sardinia, where his friend Peter Sellers had a yacht. The aim was to get away from everything connected with his life as a Beatle. But as he explains in this interview, a chance conversation with the captain proved an unlikely songwriting inspiration.


.....we talked about octopuses. He told me that they hang out in their caves and they go around the seabed finding shiny stones and tin cans bottles to put in front of their cave like a garden. I thought this was fabulous, because at the time I just wanted to be under the sea too.

'Come on home, we love you'

Back in London, it was dawning on the other Beatles that they had a serious crisis to deal with. It proved the jolt they needed to bring them together.

Within days Ringo received a telegram from his band-mates:  'You're the best rock'n'roll drummer in the world. Come on home, we love you.'

Two weeks later Ringo returned to the studio to find his drum kit garlanded with flowers. The effect salutary on all concerned.  'I felt good about myself again, we'd got through that little crisis and it was great.'

It didn't remain 'great' - the final twenty months of The Beatles would prove increasingly acrimonious.  But Ringo largely managed to stay out of the internecine struggle, maintaining good personal relations with the other three. And he had the material for his second, final and finest songwriting credit.

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