Top 5 Moments in Paul is Dead: Audio/Lyrical Clues

by Cara on July 3, 2010

in fun, Gratuitous Beatles Blogging

A black and white photograph of Paul McCartney circa 1967. A black banner with white lettering above the photograph reads "THE GREAT HOAX." A second banner along the bottom reads "PAUL'S FANS CRY: IT'S A CRUEL JOKE! -- PAUL IS ALIVE!Image via Lacey.

Last week, in celebration of new evidence that the so-called “conspiracy theory” Paul is Dead was right all along, I posted my top 5 Paul is Dead visual clues.

While I thought the case I was presented was quite convincing, and the evidence wholly irrefutable, unfortunately most of you still seem to think that this is all one big joke. Surely, Paul McCartney could not really have died in a fiery car accident in 1966, only to have the Beatles cover up his death by replacing him with a man who looked and acted and sounded and wrote music exactly like him, and then covertly place clues about the switch in all of their album artwork and lyrics, only to have no one find out about it until 1969! That’s ridiculous! If the man walking around as Paul McCartney today was not really Paul McCartney, you say, we would most definitely know.

It’s sad, really. Seeing as how that’s exactly what they want you to think.

I wrote these two posts in celebration of the imminent release of the new documentary Paul McCartney Really Is Dead: The Last Testament of George Harrison, in which mysterious tapes containing recording of a voice “identical to Harrison” explaining how Paul died and how the band was forced against their will to cover-up the evidence, lest a wave of mass suicides befall the Western world. I should think that if anything ought to convince a skeptic, the testimony of an actual Beatle should do the trick! But alas, so far many disbelievers remain. Some even go so far as to suggest that the voice sounds nothing like Harrison’s at all! (psh!)

But I shall try one last time to convince you of what the remaining Fab Three have been trying to tell us all along: that Paul McCartney up to 1966 and the “Paul McCartney” we’ve known since then are two completely different men, the latter having engaged in extensive, impeccable plastic surgery in the 1960s to look remarkably like the former, only to have the original Paul’s closest friends and family members never explicitly say a word.

After all, it could be that you’re just not the type who is big on symbolism. The visual clues, despite their clear messages, might seem just a bit too vague. Maybe you need to hear the voices of the Beatles — voices you know to belong to the actual Beatles — tell you, themselves. Well, you’re in luck. The remaining band members left many revealing audio and lyrical clues about Paul’s death in their path. The best of the best can be found below.

1. I Buried Paul

Strawberry Fields Forever/Penny Lane was the first new musical release by the Beatles after Paul’s death. And suitably, it also contains the first Paul is Dead clue embedded in a track.

At the end of Strawberry Fields Forever, the music fades out. Then unexpectedly, it fades back in, even more macabre and surreal than it was before. As the music eventually fades out one final time, a spooky, muddled voice appears in the background, at about 3:56 on the original track (4:04 in the video below) — a voice that seems to be saying “I buried Paul.”

Since fans started uncovering clues, the Beatles have claimed that the voice on the track, undeniably there, does not say “I buried Paul” at all, but rather “cranberry sauce.” Many listeners, unwilling to believe the truth and eager to quash the rumors, have even agreed with them, claiming that they hear “cranberry sauce,” too.

But a voice randomly saying “cranberry sauce” at the end of a Beatles song? Come on now, let’s not be ridiculous.

VIDEO: The official Strawberry Fields Forever promotional video. On a field lit by colorful incandescent lights at dusk and nighttime, the Beatles wander around in psychedelic outfits. They run at the camera, take turns walking around a colorfully painted piano, Paul climbs a tree, and there are many spooky close up shots of their faces. Strawberry Fields Forever lyrics.

2. The Walrus Was Paul

A year before anyone even knew to look for clues, John Lennon was outright telling fans that he was placing them. Frustrated, it would seem, with subtlety, John tried a blunt approach. In the song Glass Onion, off the White Album, he sings ominously:

Well here’s another clue for your all: the walrus was Paul.

If not a clue regarding Paul’s death and subsequent replacement by Faul, what kind of clue would John possibly be referring to? In Beatles lore, the walrus is an enigma whose total meaning has never been quite clear. It has, however, been stated by numerous astute Paul is Dead researchers that a walrus is a symbol of death. *cough*

The fact is that John never gave a convincing explanation for why he wrote the line, calling it a “throwaway” and expressing something vague about wanting to give Paul attention. He should have come up with something a bit better. The lyric may not be the most revealing of Paul is Dead clues, but it is just about the most direct.

VIDEO: The Beatles song Glass Onion plays over an image of the While Album cover. Glass Onion lyrics.

3. Revolution 9 Backwards

Revolution 9 remains the most confounding track of the Beatles’ career. An avant garde pastiche, it just doesn’t fit with anything else the band had ever done. It’s also said that all of the members except for John hated it. But what if the reason they tried to dissuade John from releasing the track wasn’t about artistic differences? What if the reason for the song wasn’t art at all?

Hidden backwards inside Revolution 9 were two major clues about Paul’s death — and seeing as how the Beatles had a known history of using backwards recordings, that wasn’t “hiding” them much at all.

The first clue is among the most infamous in Paul is Dead history. Throughout the track, a monotonous voice repeats the words “Number nine.” It’s nonsensical, and it’s spooky. But it just gets spookier when in reverse it becomes “Turn me on, Desmond” “Turn me on, dead man.”

VIDEO: A snippet of the Beatles track Revolution 9 plays forward then backwards. Forward the voice says “number nine”; backwards, it appears to say “turn me on, dead man.”

The “turn me on” is an obvious reference to Paul’s famous lyric from A Day in the Life, “I’d love to turn you on,” written very shortly before his untimely demise. The implications of “dead man” are clear. That these words repeat all throughout the song for almost 9 minutes cannot possibly be an accident.

The second clue is less well-known, but far more explosive. The author of the Officially Pronounced Dead? Paul is Dead website describes it, thusly:

But the biggest thing you hear when the track is played in reversed is what appears to be an audio representation of a car crash. This starts at approximately 5m 20s in as you play the track backwards and starts with the sound of a speeding car zooming past things with horns ablazing. Then there’s the sound of a lorry sounding his horn (remember that, according to the story, Paul collided with a yellow lorry that caused him to smash into the telegraph pole) and then the sound of heavern choir singing. After this we hear the bell chimes of a fire engine and then John saying “Turn me on, dead man. Turn me on.”. As he says this the chatter of a gathering crowd can then be heard before Paul starts screaming “Let me out! Let me out!” seemingly in increasing desperation. This scene uncannily matches the story of Paul’s crash, and links in with other clues that tell of Paul’s demise.

The only thing he’s wrong about is the timing; you actually want to start listening at about 4:40:

VIDEO: The Beatles track Revolution 9 plays backwards.

You may think that all of this is far fetched, a bunch of hogwash, and that the sounds produced when the track is played backwards are just as nonsensical, random, and open to bizarre interpretation as those created when the track is played normally. But let us look at the other option: that John actually saw Revolution 9 as a worthy musical statement. Suddenly, the idea of the track as one giant, backwards Paul is Dead clue makes a whole lot of sense.

4. Beatle Bill

In 1971, John Lennon was recording his Imagine album, on which George Harrison contributed to several tracks, and making a documentary of the process. After the Beatles’ breakup, John, George, and Ringo stayed on mostly pleasant terms. “Paul” was the odd man out, and some have suggested that the remaining Beatles never got along well with Faul, leading to the dissolution of the group and an ended relationship with the impostor.

Gimme Some Truth, the film resulting from all of the footage recorded during the making of Imagine, thus features an interesting and confounding little scene. At one point, the recording team is eating lunch at John and Yoko’s kitchen table (the studio was in their home), and John and George have a very interesting conversation about a couple of mysterious characters — Beatle Ed, and Beatle Bill.

The relevant part of the video starts at 4:45, and a transcript of the important section is below.

A scene in a kitchen. The camera is mostly focused on John Lennon and George Harrison sitting side by side with plates of food in front of them, as they sit at a long wooden table. The camera occasionally pans to see Yoko Ono over at John’s right.

George: Do you ever see much of the Beatles these days?
John: The Beatles? Um … no, I did see Beatle Ed though recently. He’s doing quite well in Sweden, I believe. Number five. Number five, yeah. I heard that, too.
George: Yoko, is that a fresh pot of tea?
Yoko: Yes.
George: Can I have some?
John: (To camera) This is actually a Beatle Wife fixing a tea for one of the Fab Four, Ex-Beatle—
George: Fab, Fab Three.
John: Fab Three … (laughs, tosses a hand into the air, and looks at camera with an expression somewhere between bemused, horrified, and embarrassed) Uh, Beatle Ed. He’s doing very well in Sweden …
Yoko: (pointing at John) This is my Beatle Wife.
John: Yeah, I’m Beatle Wife number 3.
George: I see Beatle Bill making a pig of himself.
John: (hesitates, uncomfortable) He likes his, um, whatever it’s called.

First off, Fab Three? Why does John look at the camera so alarmed, if the line is only supposed to be a joke at Paul’s expense? John had no problem saying nasty things about Paul, as his song How Do You Sleep? proved. The nickname “Beatle Bill” is particularly striking, as Bill is supposed to have been Faul’s real name, and as George thought fit to bring him up immediately after “correcting” John’s reference to the Fab Four. John’s discomfort also seems to persist when George mentions him, and Beatle Bill is clearly not anyone present in the room. Could they be talking about Faul?

That of course leaves open the question of who exactly Beatle Ed is. I propose that he doesn’t exist — John speaks of him lightly, as a joke, and quite possibly the basis for the humor is the reference to “Fake Beatles,” and the idea that further Beatles can be added to the group at a whim.

It also seems not at all coincidental that this conversation is placed in the film right before the sequence that involves recording How Do You Sleep?, a scathing song written by John about Faul. All other scenes in the film are ordered logically. An interview with John and Yoko about their relationship is followed by the recording of “Oh My Love,” for example. John talking about jealousy is followed by the recording of “Jealous Guy.” Why would this one scene, and only this one scene, be put in an illogical place? It would seem that it wasn’t.

5. Miss Him, Miss Him, Miss Him

At the end of the While Album track I’m So Tired appears some incoherent mumbling from John. Just begging to be played backwards, it reveals an anguished cry: “Paul is a dead man, miss him, miss him, miss him!”

A clip of the section, both forwards and backwards:

VIDEO: A snippet of the Beatles track I’m So Tired plays forward and then backwards with subtitles. Forward, the audio sounds like gibberish, backwards is sounds remarkably like “Paul is a dead man, miss him, miss him, miss him!”

The despairing, mournful nature of the statement is painful to hear, and reveals how truly difficult it must have been for the Beatles to hide Paul’s death, and how desperate they must have been for the public to know the truth.

Bonus Clue: How Do You Sleep?

Those who wish to believe that Paul McCartney is still alive are seemingly so desperate that they will ignore even the most concrete evidence, including direct admissions.

The John Lennon solo song How Do You Sleep?, a scathing indictment of Paul, is filled to the brim with lyrics that could possibly relate to Faul’s status as an impostor. I imagine that Sgt. Pepper did take Faul by surprise, when he was suddenly called in to replace Paul and work with the band during those sessions. “A pretty face may last a year or two” could be a reference to Paul’s status as the “cute Beatle,” or it could be an allusion to the uncanny resemblance between Faul and the real Paul and an expression of John’s belief that the truth would soon be revealed. The clues keep coming. But the most shocking isn’t a “clue” at all — it’s a confession.

Those freaks was right when they said you was dead.

Many have dismissed the lyric as referencing a kind of “spiritual” or “artistic” death in Paul. Why, exactly, do they refuse to see what is right in front of their faces? John had an acerbic wit, but he was also a man of great honesty. That he even uses the term “freaks” to refer to Paul is Dead believers, a 1970s slang term of great endearment and praise reserved only for those most highly respected, acts as even stronger confirmation. Why would John have ever called those who diligently uncovered all of his clues “freaks” if he was attempting to deride them?

VIDEO: The John Lennon song How Do You Sleep? plays over an image of the Image album. How Do You Sleep? lyrics.

James Paul McCartney
1942-1966

Leave your own favorite audio/lyrical Paul is Dead clues in the comments, and check out my post on visual clues if you missed it.

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{ 4 comments }

1 Elayne Riggs July 4, 2010 at 10:44 pm

Really enjoying this trip down hoax-memory lane, Cara, thanks so much. Any paranoia-influenced explanations as to who actually wrote all of Paul’s songs between 1966 and today? Obviously he or she was a much better songwriter than the Actual Paul…

2 Cris July 6, 2010 at 11:33 am

Don’t forget that the randomly-selected radio chatter that plays at the end of “I Am The Walrus” is Oswald’s death scene from King Lear. With lines such as “Oh, untimely death!” and “What, is he dead?” it’s clear that the BBC was sending psychic messages to the listeners.

3 frau sally benz July 12, 2010 at 9:38 pm

I hadn’t seen that clip from Gimme Some Truth. Awesome!

I find the audio clues to be much more compelling than the visual ones. I mean, hidden messages that can be heard when played backwards? Um, DUH! Totally what I’d do if I wanted people to know the real truth!

4 Cara July 12, 2010 at 9:57 pm

lol, really? I’m a much bigger fan of the visual clues. That’s how I ended up doing this post — it was originally only going to be one, until I realized that every single clue in my top 5 was a visual one! ;)

But yeah, I totally love the Gimme Some Truth clip.

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