175 – Mean Mr Mustard – Rebecca Pidgeon
Original recording: 24–29 July 1969
Ukulele Version #175: April 2012
Rebecca Pidgeon – Vocals
Gary Schreiner – Wurlitzer Piano
David Barratt – Ukulele and everything else
Produced by David Barratt at The Abattoir Of Good Taste, Rebecca’s vocal recorded by
Written by John Lennon
Credited to Lennon & McCartney
ABOUT THE SONG
“I’d read somewhere in the paper about this mean guy who hid his five-pound notes, not up his nose but somewhere else. No, it had nothing to do with cocaine.”
John wrote the song after reading a newspaper story about a man who was said to have hidden his money in his bottom. It’s a humorous song but a bitter mean humor that is is the specialty of the British middle class.
There is a rather nasty attitude that the British have for their underclass that is reflected in this song. The tramp, the drunk, the chav and other subclass figures have been a figure of fun for the rest of the country for generations. From old music hall comedians through to the “Little Britain” TV show there is a cruel streak that is used to attack the weak and the poor.
This comes from a terrible fear that the middle class in Britain have of the working class. The fear is based in reality. When the working class or underclass fights back (1926, 1981, 2011) it is a wild and vicious thing that is difficult to contain. John, despite his declarations that he was of and from the working class was distinctly middle class in his upbringing and attitudes. This phenomenon is explored eloquently buy Owen Jones in his book “The Demonization of the Working Class”.
Enough sociology, what about the music
As the recording is from the Abbey Road sessions it is pristine. Engineer Geoff Emerick had been persuaded to come back to the fold after walking out during “The White Album” and knew exactly how to record The Beatles. McCartney’s bass imitates a tuba, which adds to the carnival atmosphere. Ringo is simple and tasteful as ever.
We have ranted many times bout the level and use of the tambourine in Beatles recordings. At the beginning of the song the tambourine is TOO LOUD – no surprise there – but for some reason the level is taken back at around 0:43 and instead of being an annoying babies rattle it becomes part of the backing track.
It is rather touching that despite the band breaking up at this point of their recording career they still treated each other works with the respect they deserved. Check out Paul’s harmonies on this tune. Simple but perfect.
The ukulele is a gentle instrument and it is no surprise that The Ukulele version sung by Rebecca Pidgeon is a more compassionate version. Mr. Mustard is given the dignity he deserves. Who knows what brought him to this state of affairs but we are clear that only love and understanding will lift him out his.
Oh and a ukulele of course.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
‘Rebecca Pidgeon plays guitar and sings with appealing authority on her new album ‘Slingshot,’ a stunning gathering of tunes…’ Chicago Tribune
“Nuanced and assured…Rebecca Pidgeon is one of those rare singers who conveys emotion purely…” Rolling Stone Magazine
“Pidgeon’s quirky song writing and warm, burnished vocal tone have won over an impressive roster of supporters…” Daily Variety
“Pidgeon favors a delicate vocal style serving her well on gently reflective originals…” All Music Guide
Rebecca Pidgeon’s new album ‘Slingshot’ was produced by multiple Grammy winner Larry Klein.