Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Beatles -- "She Came In Through the Bathroom Window" (1969)

Sunday's on the phone to Monday
Tuesday's on the phone to me

I don't know what the lyrics to "She Came in the Bathroom Window" mean, and I don't really care.  The song is really one non sequitur after another.

In November 1969 – my senior year of high school – several of my friends and I were invited to visit the University of Missouri.  The previous 2 or 3 lines tells the story of how I recorded the newly-released Abbey Road on a portable cassette player and took it with me on that trip.

Faurot Field at Memorial Stadium,
home of the U. of Missouri Tigers
The University had planned a wonderful weekend for us.  They even hooked us with free tickets to the Missouri-Oklahoma football game.

This was no ordinary game.  I was a loyal Mizzou fan, and loathed Oklahoma.  (I guess I would root for Oklahoma if they were playing Arkansas, and I would probably root for the Sooners against Texas A&M.  Otherwise, I’m cheering for Oklahoma to lose by a hundred.)

Oklahoma, which had won the Big Eight title in each of the previous two seasons, was a formidable opponent.  Three of their players – including Steve Owens, a running back who won the Heisman Trophy that year – were snatched up in the first round of the NFL draft after the ’69 season.  

Oklahoma running back Steve Owens
But the 6-1 Tigers were actually ranked ahead of Oklahoma in the college football polls.  (You can probably count on one hand the number of times that a Mizzou team was favored over the Sooners.)

Missouri had opened the season with a narrow victory over a good but not great Air Force eleven, but then pounded Illinois and embarrassed 13th-ranked Michigan on its home field.  

After wins over #20 Nebraska and Oklahoma State, Mizzou climbed to #5 in the AP rankings.  But a 31-24 loss in the rain to Colorado spoiled their chances to go undefeated.

Missouri bounced back against #12 Kansas State, winning a 41-38 shootout the week before the Sooners came to town.

Mizzou star Jon Staggers
later played for Green Bay
There were over 60,000 fans present at Memorial Stadium in Columbia that day, and the game was televised on ABC.  Oklahoma took some of the wind out of Missouri’s sails early by taking a quick 10-0 lead.  

But the Tigers came roaring back, scoring 44 unanswered points to send the Sooners back to Oklahoma with their tails between their legs.

Here's a short highlight film about the Mizzou-OU game, narrated by Harry Caray:

After the Oklahoma victory – their fourth of the season over a top-20 opponent -- the Tigers closed with blowout wins over Iowa State (40-13) and Kansas (69-21), cinching the Big Eight championship.  Their reward was an invitation to Miami to play undefeated and second-ranked Penn State in the Orange Bowl.

And here's a movie of the '69 season highlights -- narrated by the legendary Jack Buck:

It was odd that the 10-0 Nittany Lions had chosen the Orange Bowl over the Cotton Bowl and a shot at the #1 ranking.  

Texas and Arkansas were the consensus #1 and #2 teams when they met in their last regular season game of the season.  Texas won a nailbiter after trailing most of the game to hold on to the top spot in the polls, and if Penn State had chosen to go to Dallas and had prevailed over the Longhorns in the Cotton Bowl, they no doubt would have ascended to the #1 ranking.

President Nixon congratulates
Texas after win over Arkansas
But I had no fear when I sat down on New Year’s Day 1970 to watch the Tigers take the field against Penn State and their legendary coach, Joe Paterno.  

Missouri was actually a three-point favorite – amazing given that Penn State had won 22 games in a row.  

But Missouri’s average victory margin that year was an impressive 16 points per game, despite playing a daunting schedule.  In fact, according to one rating algorithm that factored in both strength of schedule and average victory margin, Missouri ranked #1 among all 122 major-college football teams that year.

The game was a nightmare from start to finish for Mizzou.  The Tigers drove 67 yards on their first possession, but missed a field goal.  Penn State responded with a successful three-pointer, and then recovered a Missouri fumble on the first play after the ensuing kickoff, cashing in immediately with a TD pass.  

The 1970 Orange Bowl
It had only taken the Nittany Lions 21 seconds to score 10 points, but the Missouri defense stiffened and held their opponents scoreless the remainder of the game.

Surely Missouri’s high-powered offense, which had averaged more than 33 points a game that season, was up to the task of overcoming Penn State’s 10-point lead.  After all, they had easily overcome Oklahoma’s early 10-0 lead in the game I had attended thanks to their explosive offense.  They had running back Joe Moore (he rushed for 1312 yards that year), wide receiver Mel Gray (who averaged an astonishing 27.1 yards per catch), and all-purpose back Jon Staggers (1664 combined yards as a running back, receiver, and kick returner), all of whom played in the NFL after leaving Mizzou.

Mel Gray's 1972 Topps football card
But the Tigers committed four more turnovers in the first half (all four coming when Missouri was deep in Penn State territory) while managing to put only three points on the scoreboard.  The second half was more of the same, as the team turned the ball over four more times.  

Incredibly, the Mizzou quarterbacks completed only six passes to their own teammates but seven passes to the Penn State defenders.  The seventh and last interception took place on the Penn State 2-yard-line with only 15 seconds remaining in the game.

Missouri’s starting QB, Terry McMillan – who had thrown five of the seven picks – gave an inspirational talk at our high school the following spring.  I’m sure he spoke about overcoming adversity and learning from one’s mistakes and all that, but all I remember is a really bad joke he told.  At least I think it was a joke.

McMillan said he had worked hard in his zoology class, and felt well-prepared going into the final exam.  The professor brought out a bird in a cage, covered with a cloth so that only its feet were visible.  He told the students that a bird’s feet provided a great deal of information about the bird, and that he wanted them to tell him everything they could about this bird just by examining its feet – what kind of food it ate, where it nested, etc.  

Mizzou QB Terry McMillan -- then and now
McMillan was outraged.  He protested that the exam was unfair.  The professor became angry and demanded to know McMillan’s name.  

McMillan thought for a moment, then pulled up the legs of his bell-bottomed jeans and lifted his foot so the teacher had a good look at his shoe.  “You tell me what my name is!” he said, and then stormed out of the classroom.

What inspired Paul McCartney to write “She Came in Through the Bathroom Window”?

Moody Blues keyboard player Mike Pinder says that a groupie crawled through the bathroom window of the house he shared with fellow band member Ray Thomas.  According to Pinder, he and Thomas told Sir Paul the story the next day, and McCartney immediately began strumming a tune on the guitar and singing, “She came in through the bathroom window.”

Some of the "Apple Scruffs"
But a member of the “Apple Scruffs,” a hardcore Beatle fan group, claims that she and a couple of her friends inspired the song by breaking into McCartney’s house through an upstairs bathroom window.  (The Scruffs took turns trying on a pair of Paul’s trousers and stole a framed photograph, which they later returned.)

There’s a more bizarre explanation on the Songfacts website.  A woman named Landis Kearnon says that she and a friend were paid to break into David Crosby’s house while the Byrds were playing a gig and steal a reel-to-reel tape containing the Beatles’ “A Day in the Life,” which had not yet been released.  

David Crosby
The guys who paid them to get the tape were a couple of guys with a management company who made a copy of the tape and gave it to a Los Angeles top-40 station to air in exchange for the station’s promise to play a record by a new group the two guys managed.  The ladies then returned the original tape to Crosby’s house.

I haven’t found much backup for this account.  (Supposedly all hell broke loose when the radio station played the song about a month before Sgt. Pepper was released.)  But Landis Kearnon is on Facebook, and I’ve sent her a friend request.  I’ll let you know if I’m able to get any more details from her.

It is clear that David Crosby was present at the recording of “A Day in the Life” at Abbey Road studios.  He later told an interviewer that he was as high as a kite that day – “so high I was hunting geese with a rake.”

Joe Cocker released his cover version of the song in 1969, shortly after he appeared at Woodstock.  Here’s a clip of Cocker (and Leon Russell) performing “She Came in Through the Bathroom Window” from the 1971 movie, Mad Dogs and Englishmen.

Here’s “She Came in Through the Bathroom Window”:

Here’s a link you can use to buy Abbey Road from Amazon:

1 comment:

  1. Bob Davis/Bobby BoyNovember 13, 2012 at 8:06 PM

    Those of us who remember the Stan Freberg parodies of the 1950s may think of the line from his take on Harry Belafonte's "Banana Boat"--"I come through da window..." We also remember "A beautiful bunch of ripe bananas (Daylight come and me wanta go home) I see deadly black tarantula...." "Hey man, I don't dig spiders, like, they bug me." This comes to mind when I'm in the produce section of the market.