Official “Taxman” video Friday

The official video for The Beatles’ “Taxman,” directed by Danny Sangra premieres Friday on YouTube.
The track was recorded across three Studio Two sessions in April and May, 1966. One of three songs on the album by George, in “Taxman” he expresses his frustration with the UK’s ‘super-rich’ tax rate at the time (90%), with a vocal wink to the “Batman” TV theme song.

When George Harrison resurrected the song for his concerts in Japan in 1991 and at the Royal Albert Hall in 1992, the names “Mr Wilson” and “Mr Heath” (U.K. Prime Ministers in the sixties) were substituted by “Boris Jeltsin” and “Mr Bush”.
While you are waiting for The Beatles’ music video, here is a professionally filmed concert video of George with Eric Clapton and his band performing “Taxman” in 1991.

11 Responses

  1. Burns NuSonic says:

    Ok, I want to call a stop to this whole “nod to the Batman theme” thing right here and now. It’s something that seems to have appeared on sites like “Beatles Bible” and “Songfacts” (*) relatively recently, and as both a Beatles and Batman fan, it’s something I’m sure I would have come across previously in 50+ years of fandom. To back up my assertion, the Batman film and TV series didn’t appear in the UK until a month or two after these sessions, the Beatles didn’t tour the US (where they might have heard it on the radio or seen the TV show) until August, and although the theme song did have a UK single release prior to these sessions, near as I can tell it didn’t chart there (presumably without any context from the TV show not having yet aired). Whilst George does have form for unconsciously borrowing from things he’s heard, I doubt he would consciously incorporate a very contemporary “nod” into one of his songs in the manner that is being suggested.

    Sorry to sound like an old curmudgeon, but this is precisely how speculation and myths become accepted history – something I know this site has railed against previously (some photo of John, if I recall?) – and how the seeming impossibility of “Beatles 3000” (search it on YouTube) becomes a reality.

    (*) both misnomers, in my experience

    • admin says:

      Well, we only included the “nod to Batman theme” sentence because that was in the official description of the video. Still, it does sound like it’s a parody or homage, since the melody when they say “Taxman” and “Batman” and the pause after it is very similar.

    • mg says:

      The Batman theme was immediately a hit, the Neal Hefti single came out in January 1966, it was covered by The Marketts (January of 1966), The Ventures version was released in March 1966, and others were covering it as well. You’re acting like The Beatles lived in a vacuum. It’s an obvious quote from “Batman”. You are completely and utterly wrong. In fact, I believe the theme was somewhat known even before the series aired, just from advance promotion. You assume just because the series didn’t air in Britain until a few months later that they were unaware of it. Give me a break. Oh, and by the way, George WOULD consciously incorporate something contemporary…..Edwin Hawkins “O Happy Day” was the inspiration for “My Sweet Lord” and (just like “He’s So Fine”) you can totally hear it! So… much for your comment. It’s a “Batman” reference, they’re having fun, they didn’t take themselves as seriously as you do. We call it “playing” music, remember?

  2. Burns NuSonic says:

    Admin – not blaming you in any way, but I think you’d agree that the people in control of the marketing of Beatle product these days aren’t always that knowledgeable about the product, let alone being fans (the pages of your site document many of the blunders they’ve made with releases in recent years). They’re just as likely to have sourced their information from the pooled ignorance that is Wikipedia as anywhere authoritative.

    mg – I’m always happy to be proven wrong. I’m not disputing that Neal Hefti’s release and subsequent cover versions didn’t have varying levels of success in the US – just not the UK, for the reasons stated. I double-checked myself with a different historical chart site, and still no evidence of anything Batman-related charting in 1966 in the UK, greatly reducing the opportunity for it to have been on George’s radar before Taxman was recorded. The world was a much larger place in 1966 and in many practical ways, the US may as well have been Mars as far as the UK was concerned. None of the authors that today’s Beatles authors use as primary sources (Ian MacDonald, Mark Lewisohn, Nicholas Schaffner, et al) make any reference to it. Steve Turner in his “Stories Behind Every Song” book (now in its umpteenth revision) only mentions it as having been suggested as an inspiration, but cites the same timeframe as I do as to why this wouldn’t have been likely. If there’s an interview out there somewhere in which George, one of the other Beatles, or even anyone in their inner circle refers to it – however obliquely – as being fact, I’d be very happy to see it, and I’ll make a very public and humble apology right here when I do.

    Whilst the similarity may “sound” obvious, two similar-sounding two-syllable compound words that share a vowel in the first half (“a”) and that are identical in the second (“man”) are inevitably going to sound musically similar when sung, particularly when done so with similar pacing/phrasing. Taxman has a harmony which is a musical 5th apart; the Batman theme harmony is a flattened 7th apart – they could hardly be more different, musically. It’s an interesting coincidence overall – particularly with the 1966 timing – but I can’t see any evidence of it being anything more than that.

    Unfortunately this theory seems to have started gaining traction in the period in which the one person who could have put it to rest once and for all has no longer been around to do so.

    • mg says:

      The fact that it did not chart in the UK is completely irrelevant. By ’66 (by ’65!) they were getting regular shipments from Capitol of the latest American records. What world are you living in? You think the Beatles, who were crazy about American music, were waiting for the UK to show them what was going on in America? Not to mention the fact that at least one Beatle was crazy about comic books. You’re grasping at straws, and you’re grasping at them because you’re coming from a place of ignorance. What’s hilariously dopey about your twisting-yourself-into-a-pretzel to make your point: your analysis of the harmony! You’re sitting there acting like they were analyzing the music theory behind it, rather than understanding how rock & roll musicians work (and definitely The Beatles): instinct and by ear. Lots of bands played the Batman riff totally wrong from the original recording, for instance! It’s a Batman lift. That’s the joke of the song! You just don’t get the joke! What also is hilariously dumb about your comment: you assume George is the one who came up with the “Batman” vocal part! They played around with all kinds of backups for that song. My guess is George wrote the song part (ie: the verses and chorus) and as they were working on the arrangement, someone (probably John) was goofing on him by bringing up “Batman”, not unlike the way he punks on the melody for “Think For Yourself” by singing a snatch of “Yesterday”. Beatle arrangements often took shape in the studio: look at “Love You To” and lots of other songs on “Revolver”. I’m not saying DEFINITIVELY that’s how the vocal line came about, but YOU certainly don’t know for a fact that it was in-built to the original composition.
      It’s a “Batman” quote, dopey. Please, though, make me laugh some more by your amateur punditry, and mis-applied”musicology” to prove to us once again how tedious Beatle fans can really be. What a bozo. THIS is what annoys you?

      • Burns NuSonic says:

        Awww, you nearly had me – but then you pushed it that little bit too far with the “tedious Beatle fans” bit. “Bozo” still made me smile, though.

  3. Mr Marks says:


  4. Paul says:

    I totally agree with Burns NuSonic on the Taxman/Batman thing.
    I’d give the Taxman video about 5 out of 10.

    • William Campbell says:

      Ditto. mg is a legend in his own mind. And the video is awful. Sadly, it’s on par with the whole reissue effort of Revolver.

  5. Blakey says:

    The video should have been a black and white one. With Klaus Voormann’s artwork utilised and animated. Like, say, George on the ‘Revolver’ cover’ singing the song. There was an advert for the 2009 remasters, and the ‘Revolver’ bit had the eyes on the cover opening and moving. They could have expanded on that, and it could have been great.
    I agree with William Campbell.It is bloody awaful.

  6. Rickenbacker620 says:

    These “videos” are a total waste…and the people making them obviously own only the “1” album..”on their phone”

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