Hey Bullfrog

The ability to change our minds is one of the greatest human blessings. To see an issue or a situation, take into account the data presented, be reminded of our past history of decisions, and ultimately come to a conclusion is a wonderful adaptation our mammalian brains have come up with to help us deal with the insanity of existing in this overwhelming universe.

“Some kind of happiness is measured out in miles
What makes you think you’re something special when you smile?”

We often don’t share our ideas, thoughts, dreams, or views because we don’t feel as if we know enough on the topic at hand, or there are people who have already volunteered enough of their own viewpoints to suck all the oxygen out of a conversation. With the rise of social media and perceived online anonymity, it’s easy to throw up our hands in the face of the vapid cacophony and decide not to take part in all of the noise.

Although we are all more than capable of making quality decisions on everything from our lunch to our 401k investments, it’s easier to not engage or just have someone else make the decision for us. That’s human nature. It’s also a sentiment we have to daily engage with and overcome. The universe needs our voices and our views. Speak up.

But do so not with an over abundance of confidence or certainty… or fear.

“Some kind of innocence is measured out in years
You don’t know what it’s like to listen to your fears.”

During the recording sessions for The Beatles’ song Hey Bulldog, Paul McCartney began to bark and howl in a dog like voice as the song reached its climax. John Lennon does what any well minded singer might do, and immediately alters his corresponding lyric from the intended “hey bullfrog” (there was a reference to “bullfrog” at the beginning of the song) to “hey bulldog.” And hence, the name of the song changed as well.

Hey Bulldog is one of those songs in which The Beatles sneak an incredible set of lyrics, base lines, and piano notes (it was written as a piano rocker originally). It appears on the otherwise flippant Yellow Submarine album and as a b-side to Lady Madonna (also a piano rocker), and doesn’t make many Top 10 Beatles Songs lists in 2015. However, the song has amazing staying power and has been covered countless times by everyone from Dave Matthews to Dave Grohl. It’s one of my favorites, as well.

It’s not a *nice* Beatles song. John’s lyrics don’t speak of young and un-requited love, or the need for love. Instead, the menacing guitar from Harrison, grandiose bass line from Paul (Harrison was fond of telling Paul to tone down the bass on the songs he wrote as Paul tended to dominate the melody otherwise), and rambling piano backdrop are matched by Lennon’s lyric structure employing a simple but clever repetition of “Some kind of…” at the start and an eyebrow raising cutdown to finish the phrase.

“Some kind of solitude is measured out in you
You think you know me but you haven’t got a clue.”

Loneliness, solitude, innocence… all get measure out in the listener and John doesn’t hold back. He tells us if we’re lonely, we can talk to him in a passive aggressive manner that runs opposite of the sentiment in a song like Tell Me What You See from Help.

It’s a tongue in cheek challenge to misguided reliance on othersĀ and false dependency (in my mind, at least… feel free to argue). Even so, there’s the beauty of the interaction and changing of minds happening in a meta real time sense during the recording sessions.

There’s the obtuse and avant-garde rap battle between John and Paul after the barking. And John changed the title mid-way through the song.

The change of the lyric, and ultimately song title, is an outward expression of the creative genius of The Beatles as well as a beautiful testament to the interplay (on the spot sometimes as here) between John and Paul as musicians, friends, and partners.

We have the same opportunities everyday to influence those around us, and be influenced by those around us (or virtually in the case of online interactions). Every major religious system includes an ethical component for these types of influencing and interactions. We’d do well to follow those guidelines. But speak up.

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