Jesse Jarnow

“piggy in the middle” – the rutles

“Piggy in the Middle” – The Rutles (download) (buy)
from The Rutles (1978)
released by Rhino

One should never feel guilty about the music he enjoys, but I’ve been feeling mildly guilty at how much happiness the Rutles have given me of late. I’ve had the desperate urge for songs: stuff that I can sing in the shower, or play quietly on guitar when my roommates are asleep. I sometimes go through minor life crises where I think I’ll never find one of those again. Maybe on account of that, and because the Rutles are a literally formulaic reimagining of the Beatles (who will probably always remains the most irreducible source of aural pleasure for me), I’m just a pushover for the stuff. Who knows? (I also kinda dig that even when Neil Innes is trying to parody Paul, like on “Let’s Be Natural,” he still comes out sounding like John.)

“Piggy in the Middle” doesn’t approach “I am the Walrus” as a technical achievement, but it also doesn’t rely on anything but its songwriting wits for its momentum. It’s got lots of the stuff I love about certain tunes: random resonance with intimate inside jokes (“talk about a month of Sundays”), mysteriously pleasing phrasings (“toffee-nosed wet weekend,” with the emphasis on the “week”), and changes that can be strummed almost as a ballad (which is more than one can say for “I am the Walrus” itself). It’s funny, too. I mean, “do a poo-poo” instead of “goo goo gajoob,” but even that seems somehow Lennonesque.