Blue Jay Way (1967)

The Beatles

Magical Mystery Tour
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Even the mundane took on a strange cast of color and depth during the radical heights of the psychedelic period. “The Beatles’ “Blue Jay Way,” perched weirdly on the pleasantly weird Magical Mystery Tour album, is one instance.

George Harrison was waiting in his L.A. rental house high up on Blue Jay for Derek Taylor, The Beatles publicist, documentarian, and eventually George’s biographer in I, Me, Mine. A fog had settled in, Taylor and his companions were late, things got spooky, acid-punctuated, a great lonely weight on Harrison.

The droning, produced by a Hammond organ, harks to the Raga music that “the quiet Beatle” was so enmeshed with. (“Within You And Without You” on Sgt. Pepper’s is a closely related song.) There are plenty of special effects on “Blue Jay Way.” Phasing, backward tapes, electronic delays – all create a sense of other-reality experience. He nails the moist, Pacific air rolling up the West Hollywood Hills.

No need to drop a tab. For a quick, atmospheric trip, take a listen.

The oddest thing is that “Blue Jay Way” represents the end of this phase in Harrison’s career. It in no way prefigures “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” “Here Comes The Sun,” or “Something” from subsequent Beatles albums. It’s as if a fog lifted for George.

There’s a fog upon L.A.
And my friends have lost their way
We’ll be over soon they said
Now they’ve lost themselves instead
Please don’t be long please don’t you be very long
Please don’t be long for I may be asleep