There seems to be mounting evidence out there to suggest that the life and writings of Charles Dodgson (better known as Lewis Carroll) served as a source of fascination and inspiration to the Beatles. He was included among the supposed heroes of the Beatles on the cover of the Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album.
The connections between Carroll's writings and the Beatles musical output are numerous, but Carroll was not just a writer. He was an accomplished photographer (until he abruptly stopped taking pictures for reasons unknown today), as well as a logician and mathematician. And like the Beatles, Carroll has been associated with all kinds of rumors. There are missing writings, unproven accusations, and many questions about his spiritual life and relationship with the occult.
The weaving of Carroll's mystery and the Beatles mystery started hitting its stride in 1993 when Ted Goranson posted this message (spotted by Jojo of NIR) to the discussion group rec.music.beatles:
More options Jun 16 1993, 7:24 pm
From: t...@wyvern.wyvern.com (Ted Goranson)
Date: Wed, 16 Jun 1993 21:30:54 GMT
Local: Wed, Jun 16 1993 4:30 pm
Subject: Beatles and Alice?
Beatlers---This is my first post to the group, and I hope that it gets
through okay. I have been reading the group for about a month and believe
there to be some very knowledgeable people out there.
I am putting together a book which emphasizes the use that the Beatles made
of images from Alice in Wonderland, especially in "Music from a Doll's
House" aka the White Album. The trick here is the interest that John, then
Paul had in the Tarot cards and the kabbalistic tree of life as an
They believed that Alice was organized that way. I assume some of this to be
known to some of you, as it was no secret after Pepper.Does anyone have any
connections of interest, other than the really obvious ones: Deaf Ted,
Dantoona (and me), Tomorrow Never Knows, Lucy, and Walrus?
Goranson started putting these fascinating insights together in a Beatles Study Site, which he seems to have abandoned.
But Goranson is not alone. The connections between the works of the Beatles and Carroll are so harmonious that a Radio Play entitled "The Beatles in Alice and Wonderland" was produced in the 1970s.
When John Lennon started publishing books, critics were quick to point out the influence of Carroll on his writings. At some point, John had an artistic breakthrough and realized that these same techniques could be applied to the writing of his songs (e.g. "I Am The Walrus"). But, Paul McCartney seemed no less interested in Lewis Carroll. The Alice characters on the picture sleeve of the single "Ballad of John & Yoko" apparently belonged to Paul.
Alice's trip into that rabbit hole may be a metaphor for all mysterious journeys that involve the element of risk. Some of those journeys may include experimentation with certain chemical substances in an attempt to expand consciousness or even exploration of the deeper symbolism within the works of some of your favorite pop artists.
Not that there is any significance to it whatsoever, but pesky rabbits turn up in all kinds of unexpected places within the Beatles story.
A piece in John Lennon's second book, "A Spaniard in the Works" has to be examined closely:
WE MUST NOT FORGET ...
... THE GENERAL ERECTION
Azue orl gnome, Harassed Wilsod won the General Erection,
with a very small marjorie over the Torchies. Thus pudding the
Laboring Partly back into powell after a large abcess. This he
could not have done withoutspan the barking of thee Trade
Onions, heady by Frenk Cunnings (who noun has a SAFE
SEAT in Nuneating thank you and Fronk (only 62) Bowels
Sir Alice Doubtless-Whom was - quote - 'bitherly ditha-
pointed' but managed to keep smirking on his 5oo,ooo acre
estate in Scotland with a bit of fishing and that.
The Torchies (now in apperition) have still the capable
qualities of such disable men as Rabbit Bunloaf and the very
late Harrods McMillion. What, you arsk, happened to Ans-
werme Enos (ex Prim Minicar) after that Suez pudding, peaple
are saying. Well I don't know.
We must not forget the great roles played out by Huge Foot
and Dingie in capturing a vote or tomb. We must not forget
Mrs Wilsod showing her toilets on telly. We must not forget
Mr Caravans loving smile on Budgie Day as he raised the price
of the Old Age Pests. We must not forget Mr Caravans lovely
smile when he raised the price of the M.P.s (Mentals of Parlia-
ment) wagers as well also. We must not forget Joke Grimmace
(LIB). We must not forget to issue clogs to all the G.P. Ostmen
who are foing great things somewhere and also we must not
forget to Post Early for Christsake.
Lastly but not priest, we must not forget to put the clocks
back when we all get bombed. Harold.
John is obviously playing with words and their meanings like Carroll, but the inclusion of names like Sir Alice Doubtless and Rabbit Bunloaf may indicate more than just an influence of style.
Paul McCartney, who often chooses words for his songs for their sound rather than their meaning, makes references to rabbits in some unexpected places.
The rocker "Hi Hi Hi" contains a particularly odd verse:
Well Well, Take Off Your Face,
Recover From The Trip You've Been On.
I Want To Lie On The Bed,
Get You Ready For My Polygon.
I'm Gonna Do It To You, Gonna Do It,
Sweet Banana, You've Never Been Done.
Yes, I Go Like A Rabbit, Gonna Grab It,
Gonna Do It 'Til The Night Is Done.
"Band on the Run" also contains a reference:
Well, the undertaker drew a heavy sigh
Seeing no one else had come,
And a bell was ringing in the village square
for the rabbits on the run.
George Harrison was quite the bunny man as well. In fact, there was an extremely entertaining thread in DM's Beatles forum that asked the question, "Was George a rabbit?" The thread is a humorous satire of the process of making outlandish connections to insignificant details in the lives of any or all of the Beatles. But the connection between Lewis Carroll's rabbits and the insignificant details in the life of George Harrison certainly can produce a lengthy thread.
Beginning with the cover of "Magical Mystery Tour" (a Beatles project with some Carroll connections) we see George in the rabbit costume.
Another item pointed out in the thread was an extremely brief appearance of a rabbit in George's video for "This Song."
Then in 1986, George Harrison and Julian Lennon participated in the Matt Batt musical based on the Lewis Carroll poem "The Hunting of the Snark."
In 1993 when fans were anxiously awaiting a new studio album from George (that did not arrive until after his death several years later) the ex-Beatle recorded a track with his young son Dhani and his mentor and friend Ravi Shankar for a David English project called "The Bunbury Tails."
The back cover of the CD shows that you can make a rabbit rather easily by taking the letter "R" and turning it upside down.
Not to be left out of this Lewis Carroll party, Ringo Starr portrayed the mock turtle in a television version of Alice In Wonderland.
A rare original cast recording was released Kid Stuff records in 1985.
In what is most definitely a product of an overlyCarrollized imagination or the most subtle Carroll connection on record, there is a song that Paul McCartney wrote for the album Ringo called "Six O'clock." That happens to be teatime in Wonderland (which is probably why the band begins at 10 to 6). That would be considered a completely ridiculous connection, unless of course there is a more blatant allusion to Lewis Carroll on the cover of the very same album. [Aww man, is that Humpty Dumpty?]
Moving further to the fringes of the Beatle world, the movie "El Topo" which John Lennon helped finance has a scene in which the main character encounters a master gun fighter who lives with hundreds of white rabbits. Sensing the presence of this stranger who will defeat their master, all of the rabbits spontaneously die. El Topo wins the gunfight, and as he leaves, utters the immortal line, "Too much perfection is failure."
There is much more to be found in this Beatles/Lewis Carroll relationship, but for now, those interested may want to explore a couple more links:
Beatle.wordpress.com - Story of Alice in Wonderland
Tim Boucher - How to Fake Your Own Death
Interestingly, Charles Dodgson (Lewis Carroll) was born in the Cheshire village of Daresbury. I wouldn't be surprised if it was 10 miles north of Daresbury.