The Beatles' instrumental "Flying"

I was brought up a Beatles child from my parents… they got me started and I went from there, collecting CDs and movies and posters.
But somehow, until a few months ago I completely missed “Magical mystery tour”. I heard “I am the walrus” on the radio and was dumbstruck that I had never heard this song before. When I got to college my friend let me borrow his mystery tour CD which I burned. Again, dumbstruck that several of these I had not heard before.
Well, I just heard the song “Flying” a few months ago. You know, that instrumental song. I really like it for some reason.
I just had a nightmare that really hit close to home, and as skeptical as I am about dream interpretation I could probably get a lot out of it. The funny thing is, when I woke up I had the song “Flying” in my head. I really do not know why as I haven’t listened to it in weeks, ever since I’ve become a Rocky Horror whore. Of course I couldn’t do anything but hum it as it has no lyrics, but I’m wondering why it was in my head.
Now this has nothing to do with my dream or why it was in my head, but I was wondering in general if the song means anything, or it’s meant to be just a pleasant instrumental. Does anyone know any history behind this song? Any information is greatly appreciated.


Man… I think I really need to work on my thread titles to try and attract more readers.


I can’t help you with “Flying,” but I’m astonished you’d never heard “I Am the Walrus” before. I’d wager that most my friends that aren’t even into The Beatles have heard the song. You’d never heard anyone reference it before? And when you say you had “completely missed” Magical Mystery Tour, does that mean that you had never heard of it or just never heard it?
Sorry about all the questions. Your situation intrigues me and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter. :smiley:

Well, I had heard OF “I am the walrus”. I knew Glass Onion fairly well and the lyrics “Here’s another clue for you all / the walrus is Paul” and I’d heard people say “I am the walrus, ku ku kachu” but for some reason never put two and two together that I’d never heard this walrus song. Then at one point I did, and realized it was the song I’d heard reference to for so long.
Honestly, I missed Magical Mystery Tour completely. I had heard at least half of the songs on there, but on my parents’ cassettes of Beatles songs collections. After a breakup my ex sent me the song “In my life” to help me cope, a song I’d been looking for for some time but didn’t know what it was called. He said it was from MMT and I’d never heard of it, and found out one of my friends had it and borrowed it, hearing some new songs.

A newsletter, eh? I already have a message board, but hell! The world needs more Merla! :wink:

OK, joking. But at what point did all the smileys on here turn albino??

Here, I’ll change the thread title for you.

Folks are usually happy to open Beatles threads, but it helps the put the word “Beatles” in the thread title, so as to drop a subtle hint.

I’m just glad you weren’t going to pose a question about the John Lennon song “Girl.”

Well, if you just found out about MMT, you may also be surprised to find out there’s a Beatles movie by the same name. About half the songs from the album are included in the film (including Flying), not that it will give you any insight into any “meaning” behind the song. The movie was made for British TV, I believe, and widely panned when it came out, but I’ve always thought of it as a very interesting precursor to the music video scene that swept through 10 or 15 years later.

Magical Mystery Tour was John Lennon’s favorite Beatles album. Sometimes, it’s mine too. (but pretty much my favorite Beatles album is the one I’m listening to right now!) Because it’s basically a collection of singles, it doesn’t have the unity of either Sgt. Pepper or The White Album, (which, IMHO, forged its own sort of unity despite the contentious circumstances of its production) but most of the individual songs are just great. Who with a heart can deny the power of “Strawberry Fields Forever” and “Penny Lane”? “I Am the Walrus” is a textbook on musical psychedelia and a little work of dadaist art in it’s own right, in addition to being a hell of a catchy little song.

If I’m not mistaken, “Flying” is the only Beatles song credited to “Harrison/Lennon/McCartney/Starr”, which implies it’s the result of a jam session. I believe it was incidental music to the Magical Mystery Tour TV special.

“You Know My Name, Look Up the Number” is also credited to all four Beatles. I believe on the actual credit it says “Lennon/McCartney/Harrison/Starkey” but I just seem to 'member it that way.

As near as I can tell, “Flying” was written solely because there is a flying sequence in MMT and they needed background music for it. Simple as that and no deeper meaning.

Guess you’ll have to watch the film and look for the sequence to see what it means to you.

I warn you: MMT really is as bad as people make it out to be.

Cite, please?

MMT was an “EP” (extended-play record) in its original incarnation, as a British release. The Murrcans padded it out to LP (album) length by adding a bunch of songs relased only as singles in the UK.

“In My Life” is on Rubber Soul, not MMT.

From [The Beatles Anthology:

Magical Mystery Tour is one of my favourite albums, because it was so weird. ‘I Am The Walrus’ is also one of my favorite tracks - because I did it, of course, but also because it’s one of those that has enough little bitties going to keep you interested even a hundred years later.*

There’s a footnote number attached but I can never figure out where they hid the footnotes in that thing.

From The Beatles Anthology:

There’s a footnote number attached but I can never figure out where they hid the footnotes in that thing.

Preview, preview, preview.

Sigh… I know. This is an error on both our parts, his for thinking that was where it was from, and mine for not remember the list of songs on Rubber Soul, which I have songs from but not the entire album. I realized we were wrong when I ripped MMT from friend Moses.


But not In My Life, which is actually on Rubber Soul.

Just to tack on a little to what’s been said: The US version of MMT vinyl album had songs from the movie on Side A and “loose” singles on Side B. Non-fans of the movie humffed at having to pay for a whole album when only the second side had the hits (forgetting that Side A had IATW). So it was a “dud” in terms of sales by Beatles standards.

But I liked the movie, and still do. The “Flying” sequence is aerial footage of barren landscapes with false colors. Looks like icebergs and such to me, but hard to tell due to the coloring.

I have been “recreating” my vinyl collection on CD slowly over the last several years and MMT was one of the last Beatles albums added. But listening to it again has deeply impressed me. It is now high on my Beatles rotation list. (The White Album has not fared so well.) You can hear George going Indian, John’s linkage to old pop/rock that returned on his “Rock and Roll” album, etc. Plus that horn on Penny Lane.

I admit that “Flying” is a really stupid song – just a three-chord background piece for a sequence where aerial landscape footage changes colors (stupid in itself, but especially inane since MMT was first aired in black and white). But I really do love the dreamlike ending with what I’m pretty sure is a Mellotron, perhaps played backwards. Also, upon watching 2001: A Space Odyssey the other day about a week after watching MMT, I wonder whether Kubrick got the idea for the psychedelic aerial shots near the end from the “Flying” sequence.

Eh, I’ve always enjoyed it. It does have some really stupid parts, but there are a couple highlights, including the musical bits, the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band guest appearance, the dream sequence, the manic and very British sergeant and marathon sequences, and Buster Bloodvessel’s fantasy, which I somewhat perversely consider to be the best love sequence ever filmed.

I hope that whenever they release new CD versions of the albums (or versions in whatever format comes next), they include “Death Cab For Cutie” and the instrumental versions of “She Loves You” and “All My Loving” on Magical Mystery Tour.

Once and for all, it’s

“I am the walrus, goo goo ga joob


ku ku kachu Mrs. Robinson”


PS- Merla, I like the song too. :wink:

Actually, it’s the other way around! MMT’s producer had worked on Kubrick’s “Dr. Strangelove” and was permitted to use leftover footage for the “Flying” cloud sequence.

Also, here is a critical analysis of “Flying”.