The Beatles, “Sexy Sadie”

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Whether or not he actually warranted it, the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi incurred the wrath of John Lennon towards the end of The Beatles’ visit with him in India in 1968 for a meditation-based retreat. Maybe the Maharishi was enlightened, but he must have missed the knowledge that it’s never a good idea to get on the bad side of a great songwriter, deservedly or not, or else you’ll have a song like “Sexy Sadie” written about you besmirching your reputation from here to eternity.

The short version of the story is that Lennon, who initially dove headlong into meditation and the Maharishi’s teachings, lost respect for him when he heard that the so-called Giggling Guru had made a pass at one of the female retreaters. Many who were there claim that there was never any evidence of this happening and that Lennon was intentionally given bad information. In any case, he was fired up enough to write a song expressing his disgust, changing the title from “Maharishi” to “Sexy Sadie” only when George Harrison convinced him to do so.

This wasn’t the only song of disdain that emanated from his India experience; he aimed “The Continuing Story Of Bungalow Bill” at an ardent hunter in the camp. But that one came off as a fun but slight novelty at best when it was released on The White Album in 1968; “Sexy Sadie,” on the other hand, rose much higher on the strength of some enchanting music and the complicated mixed bag of emotions in the lyrics.

The song begins with Paul McCartney’s... Sign In to Keep Reading

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