The Best Advice Show
Submit Advice
Back to Episodes

Living in a Yellow Submarine with Dr. Glenn Gass

Dr. Glenn Gass is a provost professor emeritus at The Indiana University Jacobs School of Music. To offer your own advice, call Zak @ 844-935-BEST


ZAK: This is Dr. Glenn Gass.

GLENN: I'm a provost professor emeritus at The Indiana University Jacobs School of Music and just retired this past May.

ZAK: When I was Professor Gass' student in his History of The Beatles class. Yes, that's a real class and yes it was most the beloved class on campus and one night in class, professor Gass told us this Beatles story which remains one of my favorite Beatle's stories. And I think the essence of this story has a jewel of wisdom that I've been thinking about a lot, which we'll get to. But first, let's go back to the spring of 1966 when The Beatles were recording the song, Yellow Submarine.

GLENN: And they had a bunch of friends over. Marianne Faithful, Brian Jones, Hunter Davies, Alf Bicknell. They just said, come on in. They just wanted normal voices singing the chorus, so it didn't sound like The Beatles singing in perfect harmony. They had Mal Evans with a parade bass drum and they had the cocktail party. That's actually Patty Boyd, George's wife that has the big shrieking, high life in the middle of that and the glasses clinking and all the sound effects. So, anyway they did this and they did the overdubs singing, we all live in a Yellow Submarine and everyone was having a great time. Who knows, it's 1966, so they're probably having a really great time. The engineer, Geoff Emerick went to lock up the tapes and turn off the lights and he came back out to turn out the lights in the studio. He walked in the control room and looked down to Studio 2 and saw everyone was still there. They were there with Big Mal Evans and that parade drum in the front of this conga line with everyone on the person in-front of them's shoulders, swaying back and forth singing, we all live in a yellow submarine. I mean there's no tape running. The song is done. They're having so much fun, they didn't want it to end. That's so beautiful on so many levels. The Beatles just want to be together. They want to sing and have fun together. You wouldn't likely do that on a George, Paul or John song but for Ringo, lets all gather round our friend and just have a good, old sing-a-long.

ZAK: I love it so much. I love thinking about how, the song in this instance, maybe not with all their output, but maybe in this case, the song was just a by-product of their friendship.


ZAK: The song wasn't even the point. The point was them being together and having fun and, awesome, this amazing song came out of it.

GLENN: The point was being together, having fun and the song expresses that. My friends are all aboard. Many more of them live next door. The whole song was about being together with your friends and the fact that Paul wrote it not for himself but for his friend. So, it not only is about friendship, it sort of embodies friendship.

ZAK: We have these really loud baseboards cause we have a boiler with hot water heat and in our bedroom it sounds like we're in a submarine right now and I've been thinking about the song and thinking about how, all of us, are in our own...if we're lucky to have our own proverbial submarines with the people in our lives we love. Like, we're just kind of very insulated in our own yellow submarines right now.

GLENN: Yeah and everyone's submarine is so different.

ZAK: At the beginning of the pandemic, parents with young families were talking about how they would have impromptu dance parties. It's like finding fun where they can because we don't have access to all these old ways of having fun outside our houses. So, I feel like that's another thing that this song makes me think of. It's just like, make meaning amid the isolation.

GLENN: Create the world you want to be in. Create the atmosphere you want. And damn the torpedoes we're gonna do this submarine song and we're gonna have fun with it.

The Best Advice Show Logo

© 2021 Graham Media Group. All Rights Reserved.