The Beatles – Single: Lady Madonna/The Inner Light
As I began typing this the thought came to my mind how different the function of the single release was to major acts such as the Beatles and the Stones compared to today. With some exceptions, we now live in a short attention span, single-song digital download world where artists are given far fewer chances to strike it big for their record company and themselves. Oh boy, here I go again about the good ol’ days when I was not yet born, blah blah blah…
But while Beatles album releases were an event, the band took their single releases leading up to their next LP’s quite seriously as some of their most creative songs up to this point were single releases only (although some wound up on later compilations). Paperback Writer/Rain and Penny Lane/Strawberry Fields are a couple of examples from the previous two years. On this day fifty years ago the band released Paul’s Lady Madonna with George’s The Inner Light as the B-side.
As a child, I “inherited” this 45 RPM single in a small stack of my brothers’ original 45’s of the Beatles, solo Beatles, and other random discs I can no longer recall, most of which were unplayable. As with the original pressing Beatles albums I took naps with as a boy instead of stuffed animals, I cannot say without doubt as to when they became unplayable: either when my brothers had them when they were boys themselves or when they switched to my grubby little hands. Anyway, I was always fascinated by that yellow and orange yin/yang-like label.
Both of these tracks were recorded just prior to the Beatles’ trip to India in February 1968, Lady Madonna during the first week of February, and The Inner Light mid-January with George conducting Indian musicians in Bombay while he was there by himself producing tracks for the Wonderwall soundtrack, and and then with the finishing touches back in London the first week of February.
I still like Lady Madonna quite a bit, although oddly enough I associate it almost as much with McCartney’s performance of it on Wings’ 1976 triple live album, Wings Over America. And The Inner Light? It was always one of those Beatles oddities to me growing up, but if you’ve read my previous posts it probably won’t surprise you to learn that it’s now right up there among my favorites. And let’s call it what it is: a George Harrison solo song.
Side A: Lady Madonna
Side B: The Inner Light