It’s funny — I was watching Season 3 of “The Crown” on Netflix and The Beatles’ influence on me crept into what I was watching. More specifically, the line “Ah ah, Mr. Wilson — Ah, ah Mr. Heath” from The Beatles’ 1966 album Revolver jumped into my head. Those two gentlemen served as England’s Prime Minsters while simultaneously annoying Beatle/songwriter George Harrison. (They were part of the storyline in the show.)
“Taxman” is a unique song in many ways. First of all, IT ROCKS!! Ironically, Beatles lead guitarist George Harrison did NOT play the solo on this one. Paul McCartney apparently contributed the James Jamerson/Motown influenced bassline and also played the scorching lead guitar solo on it. Harrison sang the lead vocal with Lennon and McCartney on backing vocals. (I had to double check, but I believe “Taxman” is the only Harrison composition to kick off an album by The Beatles. )
Lyrically, I think it’s a wry, clever song. Harrison bemoans “There’s one for you, nineteen for me” to start. He goes onto say something like this,
“If you drive a car, I’ll tax the street
If you try to sit, I’ll tax your seat
If you get too cold, I’ll tax the heat
If you take a walk, I’ll tax your feet”
In addition to the great harmony, I think “Taxman” has a kind of a funky feel to it.
The alternate version on Anthology 2 has some different lyrics and omitted the line about Misters Wilson and Heath. It’s around the 1:30 mark.
I listened to some covers of this song, but none of them really did much for me. There are some bluesy takes on it a la Stevie Ray Vaughan and Pat Travers. The only cover I found very interesting was a soulful rendition by Junior Parker. There’s also one from the 80s by Rockwell.
Hopefully, I’ll find some other good covers one day, but, if not, I’ll keep listening to the original Revolver version – besides it’s one of my all-time favorite albums — possibly #1.
Till next time, keep your Mojo on the Horizon!
p.s. “My advice for those who die, declare the pennies on your eyes.”