Please Don’t Be Long

George Harrison wrote ‘Blue Jay Way’ as his contribution for the Beatles 1967 Magical Mystery Tour EP and album.  The song was named after a street in the Hollywood Hills of Los Angeles where Harrison stayed in August 1967, shortly before he went to visit the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco to see his wife’s sister Jenny Boyd.  The lyrics are all about Harrison waiting for his friend music publicist Derek Taylor to find his way to Blue Jay Way through the fog-ridden hills, while Harrison struggled to stay awake after the flight from London to Los Angeles.

In the first week of August, 1967, George flew to California, and he was driven to a small rented cottage with a pool on Blue Jay Way, a street high in the Hollywood Hills above Sunset Boulevard overlooking the Sunset Strip.  With George was his wife Pattie, Neil Aspinall and Alex Mardas (aka “Magic Alex”) and they planned to spend a week with Derek Taylor, to attend Ravi Shankar’s Hollywood Bowl concert on August 4th, and then to go visit George’s sister-in-law.  The Beatles’ former press officer Derek Taylor was now the publicist and he was promoting several West Coast bands like the Byrds and the Beach Boys.  This visit also allowed Harrison to reunite with his sitar tutor, Ravi Shankar, whose Kinnara School of Music and upcoming concert at the Hollywood Bowl and it helped George to publicize the event.  George was a bit jet-lagged after the flight from London, and since there was a Hammond organ in this house, George began tinkering around with it as everyone waited for Derek Taylor and his wife Joan, to join them in the house.

The house belonged to Robert Fitzpatrick, a music business lawyer who was on vacation in Hawaii and he was the manager of Peggy Lee.  The home’s location, was on a hillside of narrow, winding roads, and LA was experiencing foggy conditions at the time.  When George and his group arrived at the house, they called Derek and told him that they were on Blue Jay Way, but since there was no Google Maps or any GPS at this time, he didn’t know where that was.  Since they were not able to give him directions, Derek said that he could ask a policeman, because there were plenty of them around.

George was tired from the flight, but he didn’t want to go to sleep until his friend came, so to keep himself awake, and to pass the time while he waited, he wrote this song about waiting for him in Blue Jay Way.  Harrison sat down at the organ and started singing this song, and he had almost completed the song by the time the Taylors arrived, around two hours later than planned.  Some people say that this song is monotonous, but I like the dark musical mood of ‘Blue Jay Way’ and with the fog, it makes a haunting creepy song, but it also comes off as being ethereal.

According to some reports, Paul Simon wrote ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’ at the same house on Blue Jay Way which he and Garfunkel rented.  There is no lead or rhythm guitar on the song and George sings lead vocals and plays organ.  I have read that John also plays organ on this, but some people dispute this, anyway John and Paul both sing backing vocals and Paul plays bass, while Ringo plays drums and tambourine.  The lead instrument is a cello played by Peter Willison, who was paid £27 for his work.  The classical musician came to the session straight from a show at the Albert Hall and was still in his tux.  He later remembered Ringo telling him he didn’t have to get dressed up for The Beatles.

Taylor was a national journalist working for the Daily Express and he became a trusted journalist in the Beatles circle.  As the Beatles gained national attention in Britain, Taylor’s editors conceived of running a column ostensibly written by a Beatle to boost circulation, which would be ghostwritten by Taylor.  George Harrison was the Beatle that they eventually decided upon.  Although Taylor was initially only given the right to approve or disapprove of the content, Harrison’s dissection of the first draft turned the column into an ongoing collaboration between the two, with Harrison providing the stories and Taylor providing the polish.  George was the only Beatle to show up at Derek’s funeral, and he did so quietly, accompanied by Eric Idle, the Monty Python alumnus whom George had befriended after the Beatles’ breakup.

There’s a fog upon L.A.
And my friends have lost their way
We’ll be over soon they said
Now they’ve lost themselves instead

Please don’t be long
Please don’t you be very long
Please don’t be long
Or I may be asleep

Well, it only goes to show
And I told them where to go
Ask a policeman on the street
There’s so many there to meet

Please don’t be long (don’t be long)
Please don’t you be very long (don’t be long)
Please don’t be long
Or I may be asleep

Now it’s past my bed I know
And I’d really like to go
Soon will be the break of day
Sitting here in Blue Jay Way

Please don’t be long (don’t be long)
Please don’t you be very long (don’t be long)
Please don’t be long
Or I may be asleep

Please don’t be long
Please don’t you be very long
Please don’t be long

Please don’t be long
Please don’t you be very long
Please don’t be long

Please don’t be long
Please don’t you be very long
Please don’t be long

Don’t be long, don’t be long
Don’t be long, don’t be long
Don’t be long, don’t be long
Don’t be long

Written for Song Lyric Sunday where the prompt is Long/Short/Small/Tall.

26 thoughts on “Please Don’t Be Long

  1. I think this is the first time I’ve ever listened to the song all the way through Jim. I’ve always dismissed it as rubbish before. I’m glad I listened. It’s good! Maybe not a classic but certainly worthy of George’s super talent.

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  2. Dear Jim
    I wanted to ask you a question regarding your upcoming theme – misery/anguish/torment.
    I wanted to feature a song that does not mention any of those words specifically but it completely embodies them. The song is from the musical Les Misérables, and conveys Fantine at the depths of her despair. It is such a stunning song, and I know it does not mention any of those words, but she is in complete anguish when she signs it.
    Do you think it would be ok to feature it?

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    1. Lady A you can always feature what ever song you desire, as the first rule states:
      If it does not meet the criteria, then please explain why you chose this song.
      Also you should feel free to suggest future prompts.

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      1. Thank you Jim.
        I think occasionally an idea has popped into my head for a them and I have later forgotten it. But off the top of my head – have you ever had the theme of songs that mention television shows?
        I will think about it and ask Robert and Wills if they have any ideas.

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      2. When I set up my blog, it seemed Annette Lewis was already taken, so I tried all sorts of names until I found one that would allow me to proceed. Now I believe it is only the username that has to be unique. I could change my name now. But I have got used to it.

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