Nobody was a harsher critic of his own work than John Lennon. Whether he was just being glib or truly taking himself to task, Lennon alternated between admiration for tracks like ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ and downright hostility for tracks like ‘Good Morning Good Morning’.
Lennon seemed to be working on another level during the recoding of 1966’s Revolver. Between the heady trippiness of ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’ to the laconic ease of ‘I’m Only Sleeping’ and the psychedelic fatalism of ‘She Said She Said’, Lennon was creating some of his greatest songs during this period of the band’s career. But, as was his way after the band’s breakup, Lennon took issue with one song in particular from that album.
‘And Your Bird Can Sing’ was The Beatles entering unknown territory. George Harrison had been the primary lead guitarist during the band’s career, but an idea for twin lead guitar lines was devised while working on the song in the studio. It wound up being Harrison and Paul McCartney playing the harmonising parts on the record, and despite the song’s obvious appeal, Lennon was dismissive of it years later.
“That’s another of my throwaways,” Lennon told David Sheff in 1980. “Fancy paper around an empty box,” he added. During the same interview, Lennon described ‘It’s Only Love’ from Help! as “a lousy song” and called ‘Mean Mr. Mustard’ from Abbey Road “a piece of garbage”. Evidently, Lennon wasn’t in a terrible generous mood that day when it came to analysing some of his material.
Despite the disdain, it appears as though the band had a hell of a good time recording the song, based on an outtake that would later appear on Anthology 2. The vocal take devolves into fits of hysterical laughter between Lennon and McCartney. Whether it was just goofy fun or a loose puff of a joint that caused the two to break down, they’re clearly having a ball trying to line up to a previous take. The jovial atmosphere wouldn’t be guaranteed in the band’s future, so it’s wonderful to hear in even the smallest of places.