Writing about “Rocky Raccoon” is an inevitably losing proposition. Because no matter what jokes or elementary level of music criticism I’m able to produce, it will not be one iota as good as the lyrics to “Rocky Raccoon.” This is the most clever song the Beatles ever released. Meanwhile, a lot of folks in the media consider my other Beatles write-ups better than the songs themselves. For more info, read the cover story of next month’s Deaf Life magazine.
Let’s look at the characters we meet in “Rocky Raccoon”:
- Rocky Raccoon, a cowboy whose brashness outweighs his abilities
- His identity-confused ex-girlfriend, Magill/Lil/Nancy
- Dan, the tough quick shooter who won the affections of said ex-girlfriend
- A drunk doctor so incapacitated he lied down on the operating table himself
Throughout the course of the song, we cover Rocky’s vengeful vow against Dan, his discovery of Gideon’s Bible in his hotel room, the duel itself, the doctor’s visit, Rocky threatening to fight Dan again, and, depending on your interpretation, a religious reawakening. All of that takes place, via inventive rhyming and in copious detail, in a mere three-and-a-half minutes.
For comparison’s sake, it takes four minutes to toast an Eggo waffle. I don’t know what exactly the comparison is here, but just go with it.
Musically, “Rocky Raccoon” is fairly straightforward and bland. But with lines like, “The doctor came in, stinking of gin,” I can forgive a less memorable melody. Rocky may have lost the duel against Dan, but this song is an absolute winner.