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GEORGE HARRISON WROTE “PIGGIES” AS A COMMENT ON GREED

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In the White Album era: “Blackbird,” Paul McCartney sang (if obscurely) in support of Civil Rights-era protesters. And John Lennon at least broached serious subjects on “Revolution 1.” In his own way, George Harrison did the same on “Piggies,” a song he began writing around the same time as “Taxman” (circa 1965-66). After getting little material on Sgt. Pepper’s and Magical Mystery Tour, George came back with four songs on the ’68 White Album.

With “Piggies,” George tried to tackle issues of capitalist greed (often framed as “income inequality” today). And despite the title and subsequent interpretation by Charles Manson it had nothing to do with the police or deranged cult concerns.
Since “Piggies” only contains three short verses and a vocal bridge, we don’t have a ton of material to sift through. But George’s simple, allegorical message is clear. With a nod to George Orwell’s 1984 (published 1945), George sings about a world in which some piggies are living it up while “life is getting worse” for others.

The big piggies have starched white shirts, eat dinner with their wives, and enjoy “backing.” In a verse George cut before recording “Piggies,” he even mentioned “piggy banks.” So it’s clear he was calling out the inequality between classes as he saw it in the mid-’60s.

In 1980, George spoke about its composition without going too in-depth. “‘Piggies’ is a social comment,” he said. He pointed to the phrase “damn good whacking” as referring to a spanking (“a hiding,” in George’s words).

About a decade earlier, Manson had interpreted the lyrics as the establishment (“piggies”) needing a shock (in the form of an assault, or “whacking”) with very specific weapons (in this case, the “forks and knives” Manson’s followers used in a murder).

George said ‘Piggies’ made no reference to police or other groups
Since The White Album hit record stores in November ’68, you can see why people might have thought a song titled “Piggies” would be a reference to the police. Law enforcement had assaulted countless protesters during the ’68 Democratic National Convention in Chicago that summer.

When the Walker Report was published, it described those events in Chicago as “a police riot.” And the police heard protesters calling them “pigs” at every turn. So you understand how some young people would imagine the biggest band of the ’60s was using the word in this way.

But that wasn’t the case. “It had absolutely nothing to do with American policemen or Californian shagnasties!” George said in 1980. While British bands touring the U.S. were often horrified by the levels of police violence, this White Album track wasn’t a response to any of that.

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JACKSONVILLE, 1964: WHEN THE BEATLES REFUSED TO PLAY TO SEGREGATED AUDIENCES

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“We never play to segregated audiences,” John Lennon said at the time. “I’d sooner lose our appearance money”

The Beatles’ September 1964 appearance at Jacksonville, Florida’s Gator Bowl was historic in more ways than one. As Beatlemania rolled across the United States during the band’s first American tour, Florida had been ravaged by Hurricane Dora, leaving many residents without electricity in the storm’s wake. But the lasting story that month involved the Beatles’ steadfast dismissal of the practices of systemic segregation that typified that era, particularly in the American South.

By that juncture, key forces were in play that would begin turning the tide on institutional racism. Only a few months earlier, as the landmark Civil Rights Act made its way through Congress, Martin Luther King, Jr., led nightly marches across St. Augustine, Florida, in protest against ongoing segregation in area schools. At the same time, there were hopeful signs of change in the offing. Later that year, King would earn a much-deserved Nobel Peace Prize for his nonviolent resistance to racism. A potent example of the era’s sociopolitical shifts occurred in April 1965, when Houston’s massive Astrodome opened as the first fully integrated facility of its kind in the southwest.

But in September 1964, the Gator Bowl wasn’t subject to such enlightenment. The stadium’s management adhered to standard practices at the time, which called for segregated seating, restrooms, and water fountains. For the Beatles, playing to a segregated audience was patently unacceptable. They had even included a rider for the September 11th concert that explicitly cited the band’s refusal to perform in a segregated facility.

At first, the promoters balked at the notion of adhering to the group’s demands. But the Beatles — John Lennon especially — made the band’s position clear in no uncertain terms. “We never play to segregated audiences,” he remarked at the time, “and we aren’t going to start now. I’d sooner lose our appearance money.” Lennon’s warning that the group would forgo a huge payday — the 32,000-seat stadium was sold out — carried the day, and the promoters relented.

Listen to Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr explain the Beatles’ refusal to play to segregated audiences: HERE, and HERE.

By the time that the concert came to pass, Floridians had weathered Hurricane Dora and its attendant destruction for the previous few days, forcing many fans to skip the show altogether as they hunkered down at home. For the Beatles, the concert proved to be tough going. Residual 45 MPH winds pummeled the stage that evening, forcing Beatles’ roadie Mal Evans to nail down Ringo Starr‘s drum kit. As Starr later recalled, “My hair was blowing, and I thought it was weird, but the drums were tied down, so we made it, you know.”

While the band had struck a blow, in their own way, against institutional racism, the concert itself saw the group beginning to wither under the pressure and mayhem of Beatlemania. That night, they performed their usual 30-minute set, from show opener “Twist and Shout” through smash hits like “She Loves You,” “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” and “A Hard Day’s Night.” Making their way from the stage that night with the crowd loudly clamoring for more, the Beatles jetted off to Boston to experience their peculiar brand of superstardom all over again in yet another city. But they left behind a legacy in Jacksonville that night, in which rock’s most celebrated act stood up to institutional racism and won.

“FLAMING PIE” BOX SET REMASTERED BY ABBEY ROAD´S ALEX WHARTON

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Paul McCartney’s 10th solo album, 1997’s Flaming Pie, will become the 13th instalment in his Grammy-winning Archive Collection on 31 July. The acclaimed set, which featured such favourites as Young Boy, Calico Skies and Beautiful Night, has been remastered by Abbey Road’s Alex Wharton and will be released in multiple formats with a collection of home recordings, demos and other rarities.

Flaming Pie was originally released on 5 May 1997, ending a four year gap between McCartney studio albums since Off The Ground. It was recorded largely after Paul’s involvement in the curation and release of The Beatles’ Anthology series and took inspiration from that experience. Produced by Paul, Jeff Lynne, and George Martin and featuring a supporting cast of family and friends including Ringo Starr, Steve Miller, Linda McCartney, and son James, Flaming Pie is equal parts a masterclass in songcraft and a burst of joyful spontaneity.

Flaming Pie represented a peak in Paul’s solo catalogue. Released to rapturous reviews, the album would be Paul’s most commercially successful release of the ’90s, achieving his highest chart positions since the ’80s and would receive gold certifications in the US, UK, Japan and more.

Long time collaborator, Abbey Road’s Alex Wharton, was at the helm for the remastering process and spoke of his delight to work on the project: “Another honour and pleasure to work with Paul on Flaming Pie. From speculating on the Cosmic Solution to Angels of Love protecting us, this album definitely covers the intricacies of Life. We have given depth and warmth to all tracks while increasing dynamics from the original, to let the songs breathe and speak for themselves. The bonus tracks show the pureness and simplicity of Paul’s songwriting in the kitchen or lounge! Great stuff.”

The formats for the Flaming Pie archive sets include a 5CD/2DVD/4LP Collector’s Edition and a Box Set  ,   5CD/2DVD Deluxe Edition as well as 3LP, 2LP and 2CD formats. All digital pre-orders for the release will include Young Boy and The World Tonight, is also available as a EP.


PAUL MCCARTNEY WANTS MANDATORY MEAT TAKEN OUT OF SCHOOL MEALS

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Paul McCartney has spoken out against the serving of meat in schools, arguing that the practise shouldn’t be mandatory. Paul made the case in a letter to education secretary Gavin Williamson co-signed by daughters Stella and Mary, as part of a PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals)-backed campaign. The letter coincides with a consultation process for a review of Britain’s food system called the National Food Strategy. In a statement, the McCartneys said: ‘No one needs to eat meat, so it shouldn’t be mandatory to serve it in schools. ‘It’s time to revise the School Food Standards to help the planet, spare animals, and promote healthy eating.’

They also called for more climate-friendly vegan options served in schools, after a PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) poll indicated 70% of schoolchildren would back such a move. The letter states: ‘So long as nutritional needs are met, individual school caterers should have the freedom to decide whether they wish to include meat and dairy in their menus.’ Under current guidance, it’s obligatory for England’s schools to serve meat most days of the week, dairy on Mondays-Fridays and oily fish at least once every three weeks. Also backing the letter are Green MP Caroline Lucas, Greenpeace, Veganuary and Compassion in World Farming. The McCartneys are the founders of the Meat-Free Monday movement.