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In The Beatles' White Album song "I'm So Tired", one of the verses has the following lyrics:

I'm so tired, I'm feeling so upset
Although I'm so tired, I'll have another cigarette
And curse Sir Walter Raleigh
He was such a stupid git

My question is, why was Sir Walter Raleigh "a stupid git"? I only know him as a poet, so I'm assuming this is some kind of reference to one of his works?

  • I assume the reference to poetry is a mix-up with Sir Walter Scott...? – Lefty Feb 18 '19 at 21:04
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    @Lefty no. They are two different people. – sanpaco Feb 19 '19 at 0:02
  • Yes, I know! They weren't even contemporaries - they were born 200 years apart. I was pointing it out because your question is wrong to talk about Walter Raleigh as being a poet. – Lefty Feb 19 '19 at 7:52
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    Except Walter Raleigh was a poet. Both Walter Raleigh and Walter Scott were poets. – sanpaco Feb 19 '19 at 7:54
  • OK, he wrote poetry - I wasn't aware of that. I doubt that many people are. He certainly isn't regarded as a notable person from history due to his poetry. Whereas Walter Scott is well known as a poet even to those of us who know nothing about poetry. – Lefty Feb 19 '19 at 15:47
8

Sir Walter Raleigh is credited as the one who introduced tobacco to the UK from the (then) colony of Virginia. So the reference is to the cigarette in the lyrics, and the love-hate relationship with smoking that the character in the song and John Lennon the writer of the song both had. There's a reddit post on this theme.

At the time of writing the song, John was 3 weeks into a stay in India where the band were studying meditation, according to this other reference,. The reference also quotes this from Lennon from David Sheff's 'All we are saying' : "I'm So Tired was me, in India again. I couldn't sleep, I'm meditating all day and couldn't sleep at night. The story is that. One of my favorite tracks. I just like the sound of it, and I sing it well."

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2

This reference provides the most plausible explanation for the reference to Raleigh. It explains the evolution of Lennon's lyric. An original lyric was:

Although I choked, I'll have another cigarette, and blame Sir Walter Raleigh

The lyric was then worked on to scan and to provide a rhyme with "upset" and "cigarette" .

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And what if John Lennon simply referred to this brand of whisky in "I'm so tired"?

enter image description here

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    Hi Javier Sánchez. Welcome to SE Music Fans. You make an interesting suggestion. Can you post some evidence to indicate that the lyrics refer to the scotch? – Aaron Sep 12 at 0:02
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    This is an interesting idea, but if they were referring to whiskey they would have used the pronoun "it," and if they were referring to the company, they would have used "they" (or possibly also "it"). The fact that they used "he" shows that they were talking about an animal known to be male (which is unlikely) or a person. – phoog Sep 12 at 20:00
  • There's not evidence to suggest that the lyric was influenced by scotch. – LittleVoice Oct 5 at 6:22

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