Which Beatles song samples Shakespeare?


Shakespeare is sampled in a Beatles song more associated with another literary figure, Lewis Carroll.

On 29 September, I967, John Lennon worked with George Martin and the Abbey Road sound engineers on a potential new single, I Am The Walrus. They had the basic architecture of the song but were experimenting with additional sound sources, especially for the outro.

We did about half a dozen mixes and I just used whatever was coming through at that time.  John Lennon Anthology

For Mix 22 of these they added a live radio feed from the BBC Third Programme. This was a broadcast of an RSC production of King Lear. The play had been recorded on the 24th of August, three days before the death of Brian Epstein.

Lennon was unaware that he was listening to Shakespeare. All he heard was the sound of voices — or rather what sounded like a single voice:

I never knew it was King Lear until, years later, somebody told me — because I could hardly make out what he was saying. It was interesting to mix the whole thing with a live radio coming through it.

With the wonders of sound technology we now can hear the words Lennon couldn’t. They come from Act IV Scene VI.

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