In an octopus’s garden in the shade. . .
He’d let us in, knows where we’ve been
In our secret hideaway beneath the waves. . .
We would sing and dance around
Because we know we can’t be found. . .
Oh ooooooo, oh. . .
I’d like to be under the sea
In an octopus’s garden with you. . .
For all you purists, yes, I know I butchered the song, three lines from the first verse, another from here and two more from there
Ringo Starr said ‘I wrote “Octopus’s Garden” in Sardinia. Peter Sellers had lent us his yacht and we went out for the day… I stayed out on deck with the captain and we talked about octopuses. He told me that they hang out in their caves and they go around the seabed finding shiny stones and tin cans and bottles to put in front of their cave like a garden. I thought this was fabulous, because at the time I just wanted to be under the sea too. ‘
Harrison: “Octopus’s Garden” is Ringo’s song. It’s only the second song Ringo wrote, and it’s lovely. Ringo gets bored playing the drums, and at home he plays a bit of piano, but he only knows about three chords. He knows about the same on guitar. I think it’s a really great song, because on the surface, it just like a daft kids’ song, but the lyrics are great. For me, you know, I find very deep meaning in the lyrics, which Ringo probably doesn’t see, but all the thing like ‘resting our head on the sea bed’ and ‘We’ll be warm beneath the storm’ which is really great, you know. Because it’s like this level is a storm, and if you get sort of deep in your consciousness, it’s very peaceful. So Ringo’s writing his cosmic songs without noticing. These two quotes are found here .
And, yes, I very clearly remember when I heard it the first time, right after Maxwell’s Silver Hammer and Oh! Darling on Abbey Road—perhaps the most important collection of songs of my youth. This album is classic Beatles: songs of great depth and then there is Maxwell (I cannot imagine Lennon’s annoyance with all the takes Paul had to have put them all through on this one.). They were just a group of guys, you know, who liked to write and play songs: I think I heard Paul explain The Beatles this way once. Anyway, the station I listened to then played the album non-stop all day the day it was released, breaking only for commercials. Maybe the entire on-air staff got fired for this, but I don’t recall any furor.
When my kids were young, they would ask me to make up stories for them at bedtime, so I did. One or the other would give me a subject in the morning and by night, I usually had worked out something, some sense of feeling with which I would spin some story, often of nonsense, that night. I really wish I had those stories somehow. I guess they are in the memory banks of my brain somewhere—they say that organ never really forgets anything—it’s just that retrieval can be tricky: the things you want can never be found and the ones you’d just as soon forget keep surfacing.
But,t he memory of doing that—of making things up for their one-time entertainment—is special in its owen way. They and they alone were the audience, and they are very special to me and making up things,things usually forgotten the next day (except for this one story), has great meaning in and of itself, I suppose
So, if you are the right age you either had a Cabbage Patch Doll or your kids did. (I just found out there can still be had. See here.). That first year, they were damn near impossible to get, but we did find one for our daughter, and several years later, we bought one for our son. One day, they asked for the story of how Michael (the new Cabbage Patch) was born. At bedtime, I had nothing. So, I started telling a story and the first cabbage patch was in a boat on the sea and looked down and saw the new one under the water . . . . .in an Octopus’s Garden, and one thing led to another and the first Cabbage Patch was floating under the sea with the new one and I had the dolls bouncing back and forth in my hands, like they were bobbing under water,while I sang the song. The kids loved it giggled and started singing along and I wish I had been there when they first heard Ringo sing it and realized I had not made it up. Somehow this makes me smile.
Fast forward too many years and my daughter’s daughter, who was all of three weeks old is sitting in my lap and she is awake and I don’t know what to say to her, so, I sing Octopus’s Garden to her. . .and I have forgotten most of the words, and struggled with it. And I continue to do it. My daughter has not told me what she thinks of this, but I hope it makes her smile. Now, the words at the start of this post are the ones I sing to here while moving her arms and legs around, and now, the little girl smiles.
I wonder. For her, will this be like Itsy Bitsy Spider or Baker’s Man or any of the dozens of songs we sing to kids. I wonder what she will think, when she hears Ringo sing it, and I am sure she will, maybe it will be on the fiftieth anniversary of when I first heard it, and will she wonder why the guy with the slightly odd voice is singing a children’s song. I want to see this, and probably there will be a decent chance because I will still be playing Beatles songs and probably won;t be at work. . .
I think Ringo would like this application of his words, even if I do butcher them. I do get the tune sort of right.
the picture is from here