US Top 40 Singles for the Week Ending March 31, 1968
1. (Sittin’ On) THE DOCK OF THE BAY –•– Otis Redding
2. LOVE IS BLUE –•– Paul Mauriat and His Orchestra
3. VALLERI –•– The Monkees
4. SIMON SAYS –•– 1910 Fruitgum Co.
5. (Sweet Sweet Baby) SINCE YOU’VE BEEN GONE –•– Aretha Franklin
6. LA-LA MEANS I LOVE YOU –•– The Delfonics
7. YOUNG GIRL –•– The Union Gap Featuring Gary Puckett
8. THE BALLAD OF BONNIE AND CLYDE –•– Georgie Fame
9. LADY MADONNA –•– The Beatles
10. (Theme From) VALLEY OF THE DOLLS –•– Dionne Warwick
According to author Jonathan Gould, Lennon and Harrison viewed their bandmates' departures as an example of McCartney and Starr "once again balking on the path to higher consciousness", just as the pair, particularly McCartney, had earlier held out before joining them in their LSD experimentation. While Harrison and Lennon remained steadfast in their devotion to meditation after McCartney left, some members of the Beatles' circle continued to be distrustful of the Maharishi's hold on them. Aspinall was surprised when he realised that the Maharishi was a sophisticated negotiator, knowing more than the average person about financial percentages. According to Saltzman, Evans told him that the Maharishi wanted the band to deposit up to 25 per cent of their next album's profits into his Swiss bank account as a tithe, to which Lennon replied, "Over my dead body." In Brown's account, Lennon was not opposed to paying the tithe until Alex Mardas, the Maharishi's "most powerful critic", intervened.
Mardas arrived after McCartney had left. He pointed to the luxury of the facility and the business acumen of the Maharishi and asked Lennon why the Maharishi always had an accountant by his side. In an attempt to silence his criticism, according to Mardas, the Maharishi offered Mardas money to build a high-powered radio station. Lennon later told his wife that he felt that the Maharishi had, in her words, "too much interest in public recognition, celebrities and money" for a spiritual man. Cynthia Lennon, Cooke de Herrera and authors such as Barry Miles have blamed Mardas for turning Lennon against the Maharishi; in a statement published in The New York Times in 2010, Mardas denied that this was the case. Meanwhile, the weather, which had been quite cool in February, was growing hot and the Maharishi was planning to move the whole group to Kashmir, at a higher and cooler altitude, in a week. This move was something that occurred every year during the annual retreats.
According to Cooke de Herrera, the Maharishi had given the Beatles and Apple Corps the rights for a film about the Maharishi, his movement and his teacher, Guru Dev. While their "people and equipment were on the way", Charles Lutes, the head of the Maharishi's Spiritual Regeneration Movement in the US, arrived and signed a contract with Four Star Films. The contract was negotiated by Horn and John Farrow was scheduled to direct the film. Horn expected that Donovan, the Beatles, the Beach Boys and Mia Farrow would appear in it. When some of the film crew from Four Star Films arrived around 11 April, Harrison and Lennon stayed out of sight. Horn said that the arrival of the Four Star crew was the catalyst for the two Beatles' discontent.
Paul McCartney and Jane Asher departed the day before as he said he had arranged to get back to London to supervise Apple Corps, and she had a theatrical commitment. When McCartney left, he told Cooke de Herrera, "I'm a new man." However, McCartney was uncomfortable with the Maharishi's flattery, including his calling the band "the blessed leaders of the world's youth". McCartney later said that his intention had always been to stay for only a month, and that he knew he risked accusations from his bandmates that he was not sincere about meditation.
Paul McCartney, Jane Asher and Neil Aspinall left Rishikesh on this day for England, having spent more than a month studying meditation with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.
I came back after four or five weeks knowing that was like my allotted period, thinking, No, well, no, I won't go out and become a monk but it was really very interesting and I will continue to meditate and certainly feel it was a very rewarding experience.
They touched down back in the UK the following morning, arriving at London Airport. Paul and Jane spoke briefly to reporters at the airport.
Q: Well you look very happy. Do you feel better after five weeks of meditation?
Paul McCartney: Yes, yes, I feel a lot better, except for the flight, you know. That's quite long. I'm a bit shattered, but the meditation is great!
You sit down, you relax, and then you repeat a sound to yourself. It sounds daft, but it's just a system of relaxation, and that's all it is. There's nothing more to it. We meditated for about five hours a day in all. Two hours in the morning and maybe three hours in the evening, and then, for the rest of the time, we slept, ate, sunbathed and had fun.
Q: One Indian MP accused the camp where you stayed as being an espionage centre, and you, in fact, as being a spy for the West.
Paul McCartney: Yes, it's true. Yes, we are spies. The four of us are spies. Actually, I'm a reporter and I joined The Beatles for that very reason. The story is out next week in a paper which shall be nameless.
Q: Jane, did you go for a holiday or did you go to meditate as well?
Jane Asher: Oh, to meditate.
Q: And what effect did it have on you? This, I presume, is your first big meditation experience?
Jane Asher: Yes. I think it calms you down. It's hard to tell because it was so different, you know, the life out there. It'd be easy to tell now that I'm back, or when we're doing ordinary things, to see just what it does.
Q: We've heard about the extreme poverty that exists in India. Presumably you saw some of that?
Paul McCartney: Yes, oh yes. I don't equate it, you know, because it's nothing to do with it, you know. The idea is to stop poverty at its root. You see, if we just give handouts to people, it'll just stop the problems for a day, or a week, you know. But, in India, there's so many people, you really need all of America's money to pour into India to solve it, you know. So, you've got to get to the cause of it and persuade all the Indians to start working and, you know, start doing things. Their religions, it's very fatalistic, and they just sit down and think, 'God said, this is it, so it's too bad to do anything about it.' The Maharishi's trying to persuade them that they can do something about it.
The Beatles are in India and their approach to meditation was marked by a friendly competitiveness among the four band members. Lennon was complimentary about Harrison's progress, saying: "The way George is going, he'll be flying a magic carpet by the time he's forty." While Lennon was "evangelical in his enthusiasm for the Maharishi", according to his wife, Cynthia, she herself was "a little more sceptical". Cynthia later wrote that she "loved being in India" and had hoped she and Lennon would "rediscover our lost closeness"; to her disappointment, however, Lennon became "increasingly cold and aloof". The Lennons' room contained a "four-poster bed, a dressing table, a couple of chairs and an electric fire". Lennon played guitar, while his wife drew pictures and wrote poetry between their long meditation sessions. After two weeks Lennon asked to sleep in a separate room, saying he could only meditate when he was alone. Meanwhile, he walked to the local post office every morning to check for Ono's almost daily telegrams. One of these telegrams read: "Look up at the sky and when you see a cloud think of me".
US single release: Lady Madonna
The single was released as Capitol 2138. As with the UK version, it had George Harrison's The Inner Light on the b-side.
Lady Madonna was not a great commercial success in America, and only managed to reach number four in the charts. It was, however, the last Beatles single to be released on Capitol; subsequent ones were one their own Apple label.
Pattie Harrison celebrates her 24th birthday in India. George Harrison's wife Pattie celebrated her 24th birthday on this day in Rishikesh, India.
A number of photographs from this day were published in April 1968 in an edition of British music magazine Disc And Music Echo. They included Pattie being given her birthday cake, The Beatles with local entertainer Shah Jahan and flautist friend Paul Horn, George Harrison checking a yogi's pulse, and Paul McCartney playing a tamboura.
Recorded before their trip to India, but released in their absence to sustain public interest in the group, The Beatles' 17th Parlophone single was released in the UK on this day.
Lady Madonna single - United KingdomLady Madonna was coupled with George Harrison's The Inner Light, the third and final of his Indian-style recordings with The Beatles.
The single was Parlophone R 5675. It entered the charts at number five on 20 March, and the following week reached the top spot. It spent two weeks at number one, and just eight weeks altogether in the charts.
Initial copies of Lady Madonna came with a fan club insert offering applicants a free colour poster.
A promotional film was made for the single. It was shot on 11 February 1968 inside EMI Studios at Abbey Road, while The Beatles recorded Hey Bulldog. The film was shown on BBC television's Top Of The Pops the day before Lady Madonna was released.
A promotional film for Lady Madonna is broadcast in black and white on UK television, on the BBC1 program "Top of the Pops." The video portion of the film clip was shot while The Beatles were performing the song Hey Bulldog, but the Lady Madonna audio track was paired with the video for the promo release. It won't be until 1999 that the video is broadcast with its original Hey Bulldog soundtrack.
The Beatles were "very close and tight" at this time. Donovan taught Lennon a guitar finger-picking technique that he passed on to Harrison. The technique was subsequently implemented by Lennon on the Beatles songs "Julia" and "Dear Prudence". The latter was composed by Lennon to lure Prudence Farrow out of her intense meditation. Lennon later said: "She'd been locked in for three weeks and was trying to reach God quicker than anyone else".
Another inspiration was hearing for the first time Bob Dylan's newly released album, John Wesley Harding. The stay at the ashram turned out to be one of the group's most creative periods. According to Lennon, he wrote some of the "most miserable" and some of his "best" songs while he was in Rishikesh. Both Lennon and McCartney often spent time composing rather than meditating, and even Starr wrote a song, "Don't Pass Me By", which was his first solo composition. Plans were discussed for a possible concert in Delhi to feature the Beatles, the Beach Boys, Donovan, and Paul Horn. While he also wrote several new songs in Rishikesh, Harrison complained that more time should be spent on meditating. When McCartney discussed his vision for an album containing the songs they had amassed so far, Harrison replied: "We're not fucking here to do the next album. We're here to meditate!"
Many of the songs were inspired by nature and reflected the simplicity of life at the ashram, and so contrasted markedly with the band's psychedelic work over the previous year, but few of them were overtly reflective of the TM experience.
The Beatles – Lady Madonna
Issued on March 11, 1968. , one week before the US and UK pressings. The single was pressed simultaneously by both Compo and RCA plants, but there is about 7 or 8 Compo copies for every RCA copy. RCA copies are therefore rarer.