Lyrically, “The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill” is so weirdly entertaining that I can’t help but love it–and it’s based on a true story, which makes it even better. Musically, it has so little to offer that it genuinely feels like the one song in the Beatles’ canon that literally anyone could have written. The chorus is essentially a children’s singalong, and John Lennon put less effort into creating smooth transitions than Steven Wright.
Inspired by a curious companion during the Beatles’ 1968 stay in Rishikesh, India, many of the details related in the song are apparently accurate. Names weren’t even changed to protect the not-so-innocent, as it was in fact a guy named Bill who took his mother along on a tiger hunt. The unexpected Captain Marvel cameo was probably poetic license, though. (Not to be outdone, in 1975 Paul McCartney released a full song devoted to learning of his girlfriend’s impending bank robbery courtesy of “Magneto and Titanium Man” and the Crimson Dynamo. I don’t condone doing drugs, but if they lead to songs like this, I can’t complain.)
Excuse me for a moment while I drop acid and write a song about Aquaman using a churro to beat up a department store Santa.
“Bungalow Bill” is also unique in that it’s the only Beatles song that boasts a lead vocal contribution from a woman. Yoko Ono stepped up to the mic to deliver the line, “Not when he looked so fierce.” Remember when I said that the muffled line in “Tell Me Why” was the worst moment in the Beatles’ catalog? I may have to reconsider that.