When was it recorded? Oct. 3-14, 1968
When was it first released, and on which album? Nov. 22, 1968 on “The Beatles”
Who wrote it? Harrison
Have I heard this song before? Yes
What my research dug up:
Quoth Alan Pollack, “In the true ‘White Album’ spirit of masquerading in diverse musical styles, we find George here turning in a heavily syncopated, bluesy, rock and roller that has a strong contemporary dance band undercurrent.”
George wrote “Savoy Truffle” about his friend, Eric Clapton, who I’ve talked about before a handful of times on this blog.
“’Savoy Truffle’ is a funny one written whist hanging out with Eric Clapton in the ’60s. At that time he had a lot of cavities in his teeth and needed dental work. He always had a toothache but he ate a lot of chocolates – he couldn’t resist them, and once he saw a box he had to eat them all. He was over at my house, and I had a box of Good News chocolates on the table and wrote the song from the names inside the lid. I got stuck with the two bridges for a while and Derek Taylor wrote some of the words in the middle – ‘You know that what you eat you are’.” — George Harrison (I Me Mine)
According to the Beatles Bible, “Many of the lines came directly from the varieties of chocolate in the boxes, although Cherry Cream and Coconut Fudge were Harrison’s own inventions.”
The song also references “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da,” which I talked about on Day 182 and which appeared earlier on the White Album.
While John didn’t play on the track, the rest of the Beatles began recording “Savoy Truffle” on Oct. 3, 1968. According to the Beatles Bible, “they recorded the basic track of lead guitar, bass and drums in one take, although it is likely a number of rehearsals had previously been recorded and wiped.” George recorded his vocals two days later.
On Oct. 11, a saxophone part arranged by Chris Thomas was overdubbed.
“The session men were playing really well – there’s nothing like a good brass section letting rip – and it sounded fantastic. But having got this really nice sound George turned to Ken Scott and said, ‘Right, I want to distort it.’ So I had to plug-up two high-gain amplifiers which overloaded and deliberately introduced a lot of distortion, completely tearing the sound to pieces and making it dirty. The musicians came up to the control room to listen to a playback and George said to them, ‘Before you listen I’ve got to apologize for what I’ve done to your beautiful sound. Please forgive me – but it’s the way I want it!’ I don’t think they particularly enjoyed hearing their magnificent sound screwed up quite so much but they realized that this was what George wanted, and that it was their job to provide it.” – sound engineer Brian Gibson (Mark Lewisohn, The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions)
Another guitar, organ, and tambourine parts were added Oct. 14, and the song was complete.
This song has always creeped me out. I think it’s the instrumentals more than the lyrics (though I’ve had a lot of dental work done and hate it just as much as the next person). There’s just something so unsettling about that arrangement… *shudders*