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Music

The Beatles song featuring a made-up language

@TylerGolsen

The Beatles were known to keep themselves entertained while working in the studio. Sometimes this manifested itself in banter and jokes, while other times some alcoholic lubrication was involved to keep things fun, as can be seen in the docuseries The Beatles: Get Back. But everyone once in a while, things devolved into the downright absurd.

John Lennon was especially fond of wordplay and nonsense poems, some of which made their way into the lyrics of ‘I Am the Walrus’. Paul McCartney was fond of it too, with an improvised studio outtake entitled ‘Los Paranoias’ coming about during a demo recording for the McCartney-penned Cilia Black song ‘Step Inside Love’. ‘Los Paranoias’ would later be included on Anthology 3, credited to all four members, despite George Harrison not being present for the recording.

But it was on ‘Sun King’ that the group took things to another level. Instead of just an offhand bit of gibberish or a surreal joke thrown in, the group devised a whole series of quasi-French and Spanish language nonsense to end the song with. Since Lennon claimed that the song was “a piece of garbage I had around”, it was decided that some silly throwaway phrases would be a fine way to end the song.

“When we came to sing it, to make them different we started joking, saying ‘cuando para mucho’. We just made it up. Paul knew a few Spanish words from school, so we just strung any Spanish words that sounded vaguely like something. And of course, we got ‘chicka ferdi’ – that’s a Liverpool expression; it doesn’t mean anything, just like ‘ha ha ha’. One we missed: we could have had ‘para noia’, but we forgot all about it. We used to call ourselves Los Para Noias”.

Lennon refers back to the ‘Los Paranoias’ sessions, indicating that there was a long lineage of goofy wordplay going on during the band’s studio time. But according to McCartney, the “chicka ferdi” line had a slightly more naughty origin than the empty meaning that Lennon claims.

“There was a thing in Liverpool that us kids used to do, which was instead of saying ‘f-off’, we would say ‘chicka ferdy!’”, he explained. “It actually exists in the lyrics of The Beatles song ‘Sun King’. In that song we just kind of made-up things, and we were all in on the joke. We were thinking that nobody would know what it meant, and most people would think, ‘Oh, it must be Spanish,’ or something. But, we got a little seditious word in there”.

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