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
  • @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
  • 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

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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