The Beatles

[The Beatles][twocolumns]





1972: Wings' Rocking Hit Single Hi, Hi, Hi

A boycott of Wings' third single Hi, Hi, Hi by the BBC because of references to drug use, is something McCartney could have expected. But what the BBC really bothered was a sexually explicit line, and that seems to have surprised him. According to McCartney the lyric is misunderstood. So, what does he really sings: 'body gun' or 'polygon'?

In their first year Wings wasn’t really lucky with their singles. The BBC boycotted their debut Give Ireland Back To The Irish for political reasons, the second single Mary Had A Little Lamb is a children's song and for this reason virulently attacked by some of the music press. And thus also the third one is faced with a boycott. Not really a surprise because Hi, Hi, Hi is in fact a classic combination of sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll. The lyrics leave little to your imagination:

Well well, take off your face, 
Recover from the trip you've been on. 
I want to lie on the bed, 
Get you ready for my polygon

It’s this last line “Get you ready for my polygon”; at the BBC they hear something quite different. Moreover, music publisher Nothern Songs has sent the lyrics to the radio station. And it says quite clear 'body gun’ instead of ‘polygon’. And back in 1972, that just was going too far. According to McCartney it’s a misunderstanding:

It said 'Get ready for my body gun', which is far more suggestive than anything I put. 'Get ready for my polygon' – watch out baby. I mean it was suggestive, but abstract suggestive, which I thought I'd get away with. Bloody company goes round and makes it much more specific by putting 'body gun' – better words, almost.

Video: HiHiHi, official video 1972

His explanation is doubted, he would actually do sing 'body gun'. But to be honest, I can’t hear the difference. I've tried several times, listened back again and again, and my conclusion is: you hear what you want to hear. Focus on 'body gun', and it sounds like 'body gun' and if you want to hear 'polygon', then that’s what it does. I think that's kind of funny. And ultimately, it really doesn't matter at all, because in both cases the lyric refers to the same body part. And what’s done with that, also isn’t disguised in the song's next four lines:

I'm gonna do it to you, gonna do it, 
Sweet banana, you've never been done. 
Yes, I go like a rabbit, gonna grab it, 
Gonna do it 'til the night is done.

I suppose it is a bit of a dirty song if sex is dirty and naughty. I was in a sensuous mood in Spain when I wrote it.

Eventually, the BBC also boycotts the song due to the references of drug use. That was perhaps less a problem if McCartney hadn’t been in the news for drug offenses earlier that year. First in Sweden during the Wings Over Europe Tour, where police intercepted a shipment of marijuana, and a few months later when the police found five marijuana plants on McCartney's farm in Scotland. The boycott didn’t have much impact, because the single peaked at number five in the UK-charts. Actually, the boycott wasn’t really bad news. Because with the previous single Mary Had A Little Lamb  Wings' reputation was damaged a bit, and they’ve just started. At the end, the additional pubicity put the band in a new and total different spotlight. One Wings didn’t seem to dislike.

Video: HiHiHi, live 1976

Musically Hi, Hi Hi is a classic rocker and a typical McCartney song: It sounds simple, easy to listen to, but it is much more complicated you’d expect it to be. It consists of many layers with different guitar riffs and the band put a lot of effort in it in order to record the song. The recording, held at the end of the Red Rose Speedway-sessions, took two days:

That was a very difficult 12 bar to get down. I think we did something like 50 takes of it!
Henry McCullough

The song was written during a holiday in Benidorm, Spain, especially for the new planned tour, the 1972 Wings Over Europe Tour; It was intended to be played at the end of the show. And it was part of the set list until the Wings over the World Tour in 1976, always as the last or second-to-last song. In 2013 Hi, Hi, Hi made a comeback in McCartney's set list: At the end of the evening, during the encore. Just there where it belongs.

Video: HiHiHi, live 2016

André Homan

André Homan is a Dutch writer and journalist.

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