Hey Bulldog

Published Northern Songs
Released 13 January 1969
Recorded 11 February 1968
Studio EMI Studios, London
Psychedelic rock pop rock hard rock acid rock
Length 3:14
Label Apple
Songwriter(s) Lennon–McCartney
Producer(s) George Martin

“Hey Bulldog” is a song by the English rock band the Beatles from their 1969 soundtrack album Yellow Submarine. Credited to Lennon–McCartney but written primarily by John Lennon, it was finished in the studio by Lennon and McCartney. The song was recorded during the filming of the “Lady Madonna” promotional video, and like “Lady Madonna”, is one of the few Beatles’ songs based on a piano riff. It had a working title of “You Can Talk to Me”.

A few days before the recording session, Paul McCartney had played drums on a Paul Jones rocker called “The Dog Presides,” which had featured barking sound effects. During the Beatles recording, McCartney started to bark without warning.[6] The next lines, initially written as “Hey bullfrog” by Lennon, were changed mid-song to “Hey bulldog”, which would become the song’s title.

Geoff Emerick, the Beatles’ engineer, would subsequently claim this was the last song the band recorded that featured a team dynamic with enthusiasm from every member. He also praised the performance in his book Here, There, Everywhere, saying “Paul’s bass line was probably the most inventive of any he’d done since Pepper, and it was really well played. Harrison’s solo was sparkling, too–one of the few times that he nailed it right away. His amp was turned up really loud, and he used one of his new fuzz boxes, which made his guitar absolutely scream.” When the group reconvened in the studio in May 1968 for The White Album sessions, their group cohesion had already been undermined by the business, artistic, and personal differences that would culminate in their eventual break-up.

During these sessions, a film crew photographed the Beatles recording the song. It was one of the few times they allowed themselves to be extensively filmed while recording at EMI’s Abbey Road studios, for a promotional film to be released during their scheduled four-month retreat to India (which was later edited together as a promotional film for the single “Lady Madonna”).

The song was used in a segment of the animated film Yellow Submarine. Initially it appeared only in some European theatrical prints. It was cut from the American version by the movie’s producer Al Brodax as he and the group felt the film was too long. It was restored for the film’s 1999 re-release. To promote the reissue, Apple went back to the original footage shot for the “Lady Madonna” promo film and restructured it for use as a promotional clip for “Hey Bulldog” (as it is possible to identify what they were playing, and therefore possible to synchronise the music with the original footage). The 1999 clip was included in the three-disc versions titled 1+ of the Beatles’ 2015 video compilation 1.

The guitar riff from “Hey Bulldog” was included in the 2006 album Love in its version of “Lady Madonna”, but in a different key (from the key of B minor to A major). Some of Lennon and McCartney laughing was featured in the “Blue Jay Way” transitional piece.

McCartney spoke fondly of “Hey Bulldog” in 1994: “I remember (it) as being one of John’s songs and I helped him finish it off in the studio, but it’s mainly his vibe. There’s a little rap at the end between John and I, we went into a crazy little thing at the end. We always tried to make every song different because we figured, ‘Why write something like the last one? We’ve done that.’ We were on a ladder so there was never any sense of stepping down a rung, or even staying on the same rung, it was better to move one rung ahead”.

The song has seen a revival in recent years, as it has been incorporated into the rotation of many adult album alternative radio stations such as Sirius XM’s The Spectrum and WXPK in the New York Metropolitan region.


John Lennon – double-tracked vocal, piano, guitar, talking
Paul McCartney – harmony vocal, bass, tambourine, barks, talking
George Harrison – lead guitar
Ringo Starr – drums, spoken word

Personnel per The Beatles Bible, and Geoff Emerick

Alsso recorded by Adelaide band “Travis Wellington Hedge”

Cover versions

“Hey Bulldog” has been covered by many artists and groups, including Fanny, Miles Kane, Alice Cooper, Crash Kings, Jim Schoenfeld, Tea Leaf Green, Eric McFadden, Ween, Elvis Costello, Cyndi Lauper, Honeycrack, Ian Moore, Gomez, Rolf Harris, Toad the Wet Sprocket, Firewater, the Gods, Skin Yard, Dave Matthews, Paddy Milner, Of Montreal, Manfred Mann’s Earth Band, Boxer, Spoon, the Eric McFadden Trio, as well as the Roots, who covered it during jams in their live shows with the Beatles’ vocals replaced by rapping from their MCs.

It also was performed by Dave Grohl and Jeff Lynne on February 9, 2014 at The Night That Changed America: A Grammy Salute to The Beatles.