The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill
- John Lennon – lead vocal, acoustic guitar, organ, Mellotron
- Paul McCartney – bass guitar, backing vocal
- George Harrison – backing vocal, acoustic guitar
- Ringo Starr – drums, tambourine, backing vocal
- Chris Thomas – Mellotron
- Yoko Ono – backing vocal, cameo lead vocal
- Maureen Starkey – backing vocal
The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill came out on The Beatles (aka The White Album) in 1968. John Lennon wrote it. The unusual origin of the song is the Beatles' visit to the ashram of the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, in India earlier in the year. There they met the wealthy American, Nancy Cooke de Herrera, who was in attendance with her college-aged son, Richard A. ("Rik") Cooke, III. He found himself on a hunting excursion (riding elephants) when a tiger attacked. Rik shot the tiger. Eyewitness accounts differ, but Lennon, it seems, took what might be called a scornful attitude towards the event. He asked Rik, "[W]ouldn't you call that slightly life-destructive?" John later said in his Playboy interview, "Bungalow Bill was written about a guy in Maharishi's meditation camp who took a short break to go shoot a few poor tigers, and then came back to commune with God." The song seems to be something of a joke, but it represents John Lennon's desire to make social commentary in the guise of a pop song. It makes fun of wealth and self-importance, two of his favorite targets. Although John had become increasingly disgruntled about Paul's apparently "silly" songs (like Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da), this song, with its frivolous premise and plain musical line, seems to fall into the same category.
Curiously, the song begins with a flamenco guitar, generated by the Mellotron (played by Chris Thomas), using a rare collection of tape loops. Some versions run this opening into the conclusion of the previous track, Wild Honey Pie, without a break. John sings lead.
The Beatles recorded this song on October 8, 1968. Similar to the nearly contemporaneous song, Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds, The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill brings together two different pieces, patched together with beats of a bass drum. Little care was taken to make the recording clean and crisp. Backing vocals came from those who happened to be in the studio at the time, including, famously, two female voices: Yoko Ono and Ringo's wife, Maureen. Yoko Ono sings a single line on lead: "Not when he looked so fierce." This is the sole instance of a female lead appearing, even if only for one line, in the whole Beatles' catalogue.