"Sexy Sadie" is a song by the English rock group the Beatles from their 1968 double album The Beatles (also known as "the White Album"). The song was written by John Lennon in India and credited to Lennon–McCartney. Lennon wrote the song during the Beatles' stay in India in response to the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi's alleged sexual advance on actress Mia Farrow. The song has been considered an early example of a diss track.
Cover of the song's sheet music
|Song by the Beatles|
|from the album The Beatles|
|Released||22 November 1968|
|Recorded||19 and 24 July, 13 and 21 August 1968|
Lennon originally wanted to title the song "Maharishi", but changed the title to "Sexy Sadie" at George Harrison's request. Lennon was disillusioned after Maharishi Mahesh Yogi had allegedly made a sexual advance on Mia Farrow, who was attending the course the Maharishi was teaching at his ashram. (Harrison, Paul McCartney, and Cynthia Lennon later said that they thought the story, which had come from Alexis Mardas, had been fabricated.) Lennon once said of the song: "That was inspired by Maharishi. I wrote it when we had our bags packed and were leaving. It was the last piece I wrote before I left India. I just called him 'Sexy Sadie' instead of (sings) 'Maharishi what have you done, you made a fool...' I was just using the situation to write a song, rather calculatingly but also to express what I felt. I was leaving the Maharishi with a bad taste. You know, it seems that my partings are always not as nice as I'd like them to be." He told Rolling Stone that when the Maharishi asked why he was leaving, he replied, "Well, if you're so cosmic, you'll know why."
After returning from India, Lennon scratched the lyrics into a piece of wood, with the original title "Maharishi". According to Harrison's account in the director's cut of the Anthology film, the recorded version changed only after Harrison insisted that if the song was used its name must be changed and persuaded Lennon to retitle it "Sexy Sadie". Derek Taylor remembered Lennon's scratching the wood in the Apple offices. The wood ended up in Maureen Starkey's possession and was ultimately sold to a Beatles collector.
According to Mark Lewisohn's The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions, an early outtake of "Sexy Sadie" features Lennon demonstrating the song's original working lyrics to the rest of the band: "Maharishi, you little twat/Who the fuck do you think you are?/Who the fuck do you think you are?/Oh, you cunt."
The song's instrumental fadeout was originally longer and featured a breakdown based around the middle eight. This was edited out before mixing.
In a 1968 Rolling Stone interview, Lennon complimented the song "I've Been Good to You" by Smokey Robinson and the Miracles. The Miracles song begins with the lines "Look what you've done/You made a fool out of someone", echoing "Sexy Sadie"'s "What have you done?/You made a fool of everyone".
Coinciding with the 50th anniversary of its release, Jacob Stolworthy of The Independent listed "Sexy Sadie" at number six in his ranking of the White Album's 30 tracks. He wrote of the song: "To this day "Sexy Sadie" drips with bittersweet disdain, its moody final minute—inspiring Radiohead's "Karma Police" and "Four Out of Five" by Arctic Monkeys—managing to spring hairs on end, however many times you've heard it." Also in 2018, Time Out London ranked "Sexy Sadie" at number 14 on its list of the best Beatles songs.
- As described in Vincent Bugliosi's Helter Skelter, Charles Manson took the title of this song as a reference to Manson Family member Susan Atkins, who was nicknamed Sadie Mae Glutz, before the release of the "White Album".
- Ringo Starr referenced the song in the lyrics of both "Devil Woman" (from 1973's Ringo) and "Drumming is My Madness" (from 1981's Stop and Smell the Roses).
- George Harrison also referenced the song in "Simply Shady", from his 1974 album Dark Horse.
- The song inspired one of the characters' names in the 2007 Beatles-themed film Across the Universe, Sadie (played by Dana Fuchs).
- The band Sexy Sadie took their name from this song.
- The main piano riff in the Radiohead song "Karma Police" is inspired by the piano part in this song.
- Australian rock band Jet were accused of copying both the lyrics and melody of "Sexy Sadie" as well as that of Lennon's "Imagine" for their 2004 song "Look What You've Done", which charted within the top 40 in the UK and US.
When Mojo released The White Album Recovered in 2008, part of a continuing series of CDs of Beatles albums covered track-by-track by modern artists, the track was covered by Rachel Unthank and the Winterset. The disc also featured a bonus track of the same song performed by Paul Weller.
- Harry, Bill (1985). The Book of Beatle Lists. Javelin. ISBN 0-7137-1521-9.
- Wenner, Jann (2000) . Lennon Remembers. Verso, W.W. Norton & Co. p. 27. ISBN 1-85984-376-X.
Yeah, there was a big hullabaloo about him trying to rape Mia Farrow or trying to get off with Mia Farrow and a few other women, things like that.
- Brown, Peter; Gaines, Steven (2002). The Love You Make: An Insider's Story of The Beatles. New York: New American Library. p. 264. ISBN 0-451-20735-1.
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- Lennon, Cynthia (1978). A Twist of Lennon. Avon. pp. 174–176.
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- "93 – 'Sexy Sadie'". 100 Greatest Beatles Songs. Rolling Stone.
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- ""Sexy Sadie" lyrics". Retrieved 10 July 2014.
- Stolworthy, Jacob (22 November 2018). "The Beatles' White Album tracks, ranked – from Blackbird to While My Guitar Gently Weeps". The Independent. Retrieved 27 March 2019.
- Time Out London Music (24 May 2018). "The 50 Best Beatles songs". Time Out London. Archived from the original on 15 December 2018. Retrieved 31 July 2019.
- Howlett, Kevin (2018). The Beatles (50th Anniversary Super Deluxe Version) (book). Apple Records.
- Inglis, Ian (2010). The Words and Music of George Harrison. Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger. p. 45. ISBN 978-0-313-37532-3.
- Leng, Simon (2006). While My Guitar Gently Weeps: The Music of George Harrison. Milwaukee, WI: Hal Leonard. p. 151. ISBN 1-4234-0609-5.
- Webb, Robert (15 September 2006). "Story of the Song: 'Karma Police' Radiohead (1997)". The Independent. Retrieved 15 October 2008.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2 February 2014. Retrieved 26 January 2014.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- Kush Mody - Topic (22 August 2015), Sexy Sadie (feat. Anderson Paak), retrieved 6 June 2017