#116: Octopus’s Garden

Here it is, Ringo Starr’s last hurrah on the countdown. His second songwriting contribution to the group, “Octopus’s Garden” might not rank all that high, but everything about it is really a testament to how determined the group was to step it up for their recorded swan song Abbey Road as opposed to the “let’s get this over with” feel of recording Let it Be a few months earlier.

It was during those sessions that Ringo introduced the song to the group, and there’s even a scene where George helps him compose it in the Let it Be movie. (George probably should have been given a co-writing credit, and there’s also reason to believe that he was largely responsible for one of Ringo’s best solo tracks, “It Don’t Come Easy.” It’s “And I Love Her” all over again.) With its vivid, serene imagery and sweet melody, it had the makings of a great song already, but what really must be celebrated is the dynamic performance. Just about every aspect of the recording is wonderful.

Seriously, thank God they didn’t half-ass a version to give Ringo a vocal spotlight on Let it Be. Of note: George’s inviting lull of guitar, Paul’s thumping piano in the pre-chorus, Ringo’s powerfully steady drums…and the harmonies. Oh yes, the harmonies. These are some of my favorite harmonies of any Beatles song, and that’s a statement I don’t make lightly because as anyone who’s read this blog knows, I freakin’ love Beatles harmonies. Those gentle “oooooh”s and “ah-ah-ahh-ahh-ahh-ahh-ahhhhh”s get me every time.

Nice work, Ringo. Your work as a composer and lead vocalist may be done here, but there are still plenty of moments on the countdown where I’ll give you some much-deserved praise.

This look is not one of them.
#116: Octopus’s Garden