Song facts: Piggies

On September 19th 1968, The Beatles recorded a new George Harrison song Piggies for their forthcoming White Album. In his autobiography I, Me Mine, Harrison described Piggies as a social commentary on consumerism and class distinction.

George originally wrote the song in 1966, possibly around the time when The Beatles were recording Revolver. He then reworked it for The White Album; probably thinking it would fit well, given the eclectic nature of the songs recorded during this time period. John Lennon provided the lyrics clutching forks and knives to eat their bacon. In an early version of the song this line goes clutching forks and knives to cut their pork chops; this was released on The Beatles' Anthology 3 album in 1996.

At this same session George played a demo of Something for Chris Thomas, a session musician who played harpsichord on Piggies.

"All four Beatles were there for the session and we were working in [studio] number two. I wandered into number one and found a harpsichord, not knowing that it had been set up overnight for a classical recording. So we discussed wheeling the thing into number two but Ken Scott said `No, we can't, it's there for another session!'. So we moved our session into number one instead.
George Harrison agreed that my harpsichord idea was a good one and suggested that I play it. This I did, but while George and I were tinkling away on this harpsichord he started playing another new song to me, which later turned out to be Something. I said 'That's great! Why don't we do that one instead?' and he replied 'Do you like it, do you really think it's good?'. When I said yes he said 'Oh, maybe I'll give it to Jackie Lomax then, he can do it as a single!'" - Chris Thomas, Harpsichord player

Charles Manson used lyrics from several White Album songs to justify the savagery carried out by his followers. Piggies was one such song Manson interpreted as a message from The Beatles.

"Everybody was getting on the big Beatle bandwagon. The police and the promoters and the Lord Mayors – and murderers too … It was upsetting to be associated with something so sleazy as Charles Manson." - George Harrison

Personnel

The Beatles

  • George Harrison – lead and harmony vocals, acoustic guitar, backing vocals
  • John Lennon – tape effects, vocalised grunting, backing vocals
  • Paul McCartney – bass, backing vocals
  • Ringo Starr – tambourine

Additional musicians

  • Chris Thomas – harpsichord
  • Henry Datyner – violin
  • Eric Bowie – violin
  • Norman Lederman – violin
  • Ronald Thomas – violin
  • John Underwood – viola
  • Keith Cummings – viola
  • Eldon Fox – cello
  • Reginald Kilbey – cello
  • George Martin – string arrangement
George Harrison and Paul McCartney at a White Album session, 1968.

George Harrison and Paul McCartney at a White Album session, 1968.

George Harrison recording the White Album, October 1968.

George Harrison recording the White Album, October 1968.