Beatles – The Fool On The Hill

This song was on the Magical Mystery Tour album released in 1967. The song was not released as a single. The song was one of my favorites off of the album.

The sometimes myth about John and Paul was that John wrote great lyrics and Paul wrote the great melodies. In this one, Paul wrote great lyrics and melody.

This was not a hit for The Beatles, but a 1968 cover version by Sergio Mendes & Brasil ’66 went to #6 in the Billboard 100. In America, this was the highest-charting Beatles cover until 1975, when Elton John took “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds” to #1.

Paul played this for John Lennon while they were writing “With A Little Help From My Friends.” John made him write down the words so he wouldn’t forget. John later said in 1980: “Paul again, proving that he can write lyrics if he’s a good boy.”

The video from the Magical Mystery Tour is one of the best bits in the movie.

From Songfacts

Paul McCartney wrote this song. It’s about a man who is considered a fool by others, but whose foolish demeanor is actually an indication of wisdom.

An event which prompted this song happened when Paul was walking his dog, Martha, on Primrose Hill one morning. As he watched the sun rise, he noticed that Martha was missing. Paul turned around to look for his dog, and there a man stood, who appeared on the hill without making a sound. The gentleman was dressed respectably, in a belted raincoat. Paul knew this man had not been there seconds earlier as he had looked in that direction for Martha. Paul and the stranger exchanged a greeting, and this man then spoke of what a beautiful view it was from the top of this hill that overlooked London. Within a few seconds, Paul looked around again, and the man was gone. He had vanished as he had appeared. A friend of McCartney’s, Alistair Taylor, was present with Paul during this strange incident, and wrote of this event in his book, Yesterday.

Both Paul and Alistair could not imagine what happened to this man. He had seemed to vanish in thin air. The nearest trees for cover were too far to reach by walking or running in a few seconds, and the crest of the hill was too far as well to reach in that short time. What made the experience even more mysterious, was that just before this man first appeared, Paul and Alistair were speaking to each other of the beauty they observed of the view towards London and the existence of God. Once back home, they spent the morning discussing what had happened, trying to make some sense of it. They both agreed that this was something others were infer occurred as a result of an “acid trip,” but they both swore they had not taken or used any drugs. When Paul filmed the sequence for this song in the film, it shows him on a hilltop overlooking the town of Nice. 

This is a very curious song musically as well as lyrically, as it shifts between major and minor keys. Dan Wilson, a songwriter whose credits include Adele’s “Someone Like You” and Chris Stapleton’s “When The Stars Come Out,” explained in a Songfacts interview: “I think that song is musically just incredible. And mysterious. The way it goes from minor to major to minor just kills me every time.

Why it isn’t a funny kind of silly song in my heart is just a mystery to me, also. The lyrics are like a nursery rhyme. It’s so simple and there’s nothing to it, yet I find it deeply sad and affecting and almost tragic, like it’s some kind of tragedy of human nature being explained or channeled in a super-simple song that toggles from minor to major and back again.”

This began as a solo composition with Paul McCartney at the piano. Flutes were added last.

This was used in the Beatles movie Magical Mystery Tour.

The Eurythmics (Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart) reunited to perform this song on the CBS special The Beatles: The Night That Changed America, which aired on February 9, 2014 – exactly 50 years after The Beatles first appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show.

 

The Fool on the Hill

Day after day
Alone on a hill
The man with the foolish grin
Is keeping perfectly still
But nobody wants to know him
They can see that he’s just a fool
And he never gives an answer

But the fool on the hill
Sees the sun going down
And the eyes in his head
See the world spinning round

Well on the way
Head in a cloud
The man of a thousand voices
Talking perfectly loud

But nobody ever hears him
Or the sounds he appears to make
And he never seems to notice

But the fool on the hill
Sees the sun going down
And the eyes in his head
See the world spinning round

And nobody seems to like him
They can tell what he wants to do
And he never shows his feelings

But the fool on the hill
Sees the sun going down
And the eyes in his head
See the world spinning round

He never listens to them
He knows that they’re the fools
They don’t like him

The fool on the hill
Sees the sun going down
And the eyes in his head
See the world spinning round

Oh

Author: badfinger20

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

12 thoughts on “Beatles – The Fool On The Hill”

  1. again one of those Beatles gems that gets lost sometimes in all the riches. Anyone else releases this and it would have been a hit single. Much much better than Hello, Goodbye.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Yes he did! Martha lived until 1981 to be 15 years old. Paul had some sheepdogs later on related to Martha through the 90s…he may still have some related to her.
      I love the Beatle song “Martha My Dear” written with her in mind. Good piano part.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I wouldn’t doubt if he did call him that because Sexy Sadie was originally named “Maharishi”…until George convinced him not to… but supposedly Paul wrote this song before they met the Maharishi.

      Oh when I read your Elvis post the other day…I started reading the book Last Train To Memphis about Elvis… I’ve had it for a while but didn’t start…thanks for spurring me on .

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Very interesting about the man in the raincoat that disappeared. Do you remember that movie, “Being There” with Peter Sellers? I was listening to a lecture by Dr. Clarissa Pinkola-Estes last night. She was talking about “apparitions”, which is just a fancy word for “something appearing”. She said that the dominant culture tries to explain these things away as either creepy or a religious experience. She says people across all cultures have them and that they are natural just like a flower in the field. She also believes that they are angels, or positive beings from a blessed place, that routinely visit people. Hopefully you don’t think this is too far out, but I like the idea that Paul was visited by an angel that day 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Nothing is too far out for me…you should know that by now lol. I’ve never seen that movie before but it sounds really interesting. There are many things that can’t be explained.

      Funny you mentioned that…someone asked me about Martha Paul’s dog from that story…I’m wrtiting about her tomorrow lol.

      Like

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