Paul McCartney wasn’t really one for major criticism when it came to The Beatles. While John Lennon seemingly had no problem pointing out some of the band’s songs that he hated, McCartney seemed happy to preserve the goodwill that audiences and fans had towards pretty much all of the band’s material. Whether it was the shortest of medley segues or the most off-hand of album filler, McCartney never went into full-on flippancy very often.
‘Doctor Robert’ was no exception. Although it was one of the lesser cuts on Revolver, McCartney still dutifully propped up the song’s merits when talking to author Barry Miles in the book Paul McCartney: Many Years From Now.
“John and I thought it was a funny idea: the fantasy doctor who would fix you up by giving you drugs, [the song] was a parody on that idea,” McCartney explained. “It’s just a piss-take. As far as I know, neither of us ever went to a doctor for those kinds of things. But there was a fashion for it and there still is. Change your blood and have a vitamin shot and you’ll feel better.”
The identity of the real-life ‘Doctor Robert’, if there even was one, became a fascination for Beatle fanatics over the years, but Lennon actually intended the song to be autobiographical. “Another of mine. Mainly about drugs and pills. It was about myself,” Lennon told David Sheff in 1980. “I was the one that carried all the pills on tour. Well, in the early days. Later on the roadies did it. We just kept them in our pockets loose. In case of trouble.”
However, McCartney told the Los Angeles Times in 1967 that there really was a ‘Doctor Robert’ out there. “There’s some fellow in New York, and in the States we’d hear people say: ‘You can get everything off him; any pills you want.’ It was a big racket, but a joke too about this fellow who cured everyone of everything with all these pills and tranquilizers, injections for this and that; he just kept New York high,” McCartney explained. “That’s what Doctor Robert is all about, just a pill doctor who sees you all right.”
Check out ‘Doctor Robert’ down below.