SEPTEMBER 2006 ISSUE

"Peace Of Mind": Blatant Forgery or Undiscovered Beatles Song
By Patrick MacKeown

Plus...
Additional "The Candle Burns (Peace of Mind)" Analysis
By Ronnie


I used to be in the habit of picking up Beatle bootlegs whenever I came across them in various fairs or dodgy record stores around the country. These second, third or even fourth generation tapes had usually been transferred from some bootleg vinyl, and would invariably vary in quality from laughingly nowhere-near-CD-quality to distant muffled singing over the sound of several bags of hissing snakes.

These tapes usually contained out-takes, rehearsals or demos of previously released The Beatles material, and as such not only provided me with a unique insight into the song-writing and recording processes of the Fab Four, but also of their musical ability, and indeed lack of in some cases.

Occasionally though, you would find a real little gem, such as a previously unreleased song, and that was always a thrill. Sometimes you could understand why these songs were dumped, like the truly awful “Leave My Kitten Alone”. Other times, like with George Harrisons wonderful “Not Guilty”, you would often have to wonder what processes guided The Beatles to drop certain songs, though I suspect that that particular song was probably a little old hat for where The Beatles were at, at the time.

I discovered one of these gems, called “Peace Of Mind”, on a bootleg tape simply titled “Strawberry Fields Forever” some years ago, and it has since remained a firm favourite of mine. The track, featuring three of The Beatles singing a strangely compelling, and obviously drug induced, dirge, instantly appealed to my love of all things psychedelically The Beatles.

Don’t worry, it’s okay to download it as the song doesn’t seem to be copyrighted to anyone. Because of this, I had planned for a long time to do my own recording of “Peace Of Mind”, copyrighting it myself for the laugh just to see what would happen. I was, by the way, going to do the same with the single piece of released The Beatles music that remains without copyrighted to this day, namely the “Can you take me back where I’ve been from” line that segues into the start of Revolution 9 on the last side of The Beatles (The White Album). Might still do too actually!

“Peace Of Mind” seems to have first appeared on a bootleg album released in 1977 by Ruthless Rhymes Ltd. called “20 x 4”. RR was possibly an American company, though many of their releases seem to have been pressed in Germany. This album was re-released by another company called Remime some two years later, and subsequently appeared on a number of other bootlegs.

No explanation as to where this song might have come from is on the liner notes of any album, and there seems to be no sign of its existence prior to 1977 either. This needn’t be unduly worrying though as new Beatle material was constantly being found at this stage.

One suggestion as to it’s source was that it was recorded during sessions in the De Lane Lea Music Recording Studios during May/June of 1967, the same sessions that produced George Harrisons “It’s All To Much”, and in the same week that Sergeant Peppers was released.

In fact, Mark Lewisohn does mention in his book of Beatles recording session that a number of impromptu, and frankly shoddy jams were recorded during this week, though there is no mention of any other complete or near complete songs, which is strange as “Peace Of Mind”, or “(possibly A or The) Candle Burns” as it is also sometimes called, was obviously the product of at least one overdub.

Most of the theories seem to suggest that John is the lead singer, with backing vocals from Paul. One other suggestion was that it was found in a trash can at Apple in 1970. This is also strange as a decision was made early on in The Beatles careers to keep nearly every fart they had produced on tape for posterity.

Anyway, during the course of my researches I found out to my amazement that this long cherished Beatle gem of mine was, in all probability, not a Beatle recording at all!

By the early nineties, many The Beatles commentators felt that the songs lack of quality indicated that it was not a The Beatles recording. Some suggested that it was a Syd Barrett/Pink Floyd demo, even going as far as to suggest that it ended up, albeit in a vastly altered form, on their 1969 album “More”. Others suggested that it may be a demo from an Apple signing called “White Trash”, who later changed their name to simply “Trash” due to pressure from the BBC. Others suggested that it may even have been one of the myriad of demos that were sent to Apple. Some other commentators simply dismissed it as an “out-fake”, a product of some Beatles fans over-zealous desire to ape their heroes.

I was troubled by this analysis, not only because one of my favourite Beatles songs may not have been one at all, but also because the whole thing didn’t sit easy with me. So I decided to look into the whole thing a little further.

“Peace Of Mind/Candle Burns”

I’m looking at the candle, burns a flame too near the sky.(I weave?) the candle laughing, I turn my face to cry.A safety pin returns my smile, I nod and greet “Hello”.While you are building molecules with your garden hoe.

Why could this last forever? These things repressed inside.One feels it almost instantly, unless the novice die.It’s over, it’s done, (taper meeting?) again.Just please, please, please, oh, don’t keep me from begin.

I need to hear the colours red and blue, and whispered word.To fly all day, and sing in tune and not hear what I’ve read(/heard).To see you all around me and to take you by the hand.And lead you to a brand new world that lately has been banned.

We’ll build things never built before. We’ll do things never done.And just before it’s over, it’s really just begun.

The song itself starts with some quiet backwards humming, building up into a set of lalalas until a single guitar comes in, joined by a second, plainly picking, and a bass guitar plucking a single note. The lovely three part harmonies then come in, with a main line, and two supporting lines. Every now and then, the tape was varispeeded up, bringing the song up an exact tone each time, and obviously speeding the song up in the process. Once a singing stops, we have a simple little guitar lead, a quick snippet of backwards speak, and then the song is varispeeded up to the songs final fading moments. And there we have it, at 3’10”, almost the perfect three minute pop record.

Listening to it, we can very quickly discount the ‘Trash’ theory. I haven’t been able to listen to any Trash recordings. They apparently produced two singles for Apple, including a version of ‘Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight’. However, reviews that I have read variously describe these recordings as ‘punky’ and ‘nightmarish’, and “Peace Of Mind” is hardly the stuff of Pistols or nightmares.

The mention of this song being found in the trash may have given rise to this theory, and I suspect this may have been the case.

Comparisons between this and Syd Barrett are a little harder to disprove. Certainly listening to Pink Floyds album ‘More’ found no songs that were lyrically even remotely similar to this song, although the album is certainly a lot mellower than some of Floyds later outings, and so is quite similar in tone to “Peace Of Mind”. A couple of things lead me to think that this wasn’t an early Floyd recording.

First of all, there is no evidence of three part harmonies on Floyds album. That being so, it’s not to say that a third line couldn’t not have been added to “Peace Of Mind” by someone. But even so, the content of the song is just so un-Barrett like.

While Sid tended to ramble in lyrical, abstract poeticness, Peace Of Mind is a far more direct, self expressed, diary song, not unlike a lot of the Beatles output, and particularly Lennons style. And the tone of the voices just doesn’t sound like Barretts either. I am tempted to suggest therefore, that this is not a Floyd track either, and that the idea initially come about as Floyd and The Beatles both recorded at Abbey Road (as did Cliff, and he didn’t bloody sing this either).

This leaves us with three other suggestions, namely that it was The Beatles song, a fake, or some other band. Now, I don’t really think this is a fake, and for a number of reasons I will come to later. The thought that it may be some other unknown band though still remains, and I examined the song in more detail to see if I could establish with any degree of certainty who the originators of this song were.

For this purpose I used a fairly run-of-the-mill noise reduction plug-in within my trusty sound editor, and a couple of eq’s, to isolate frequencies in order to hear certain parts of the song all better.

For a start, there is no doubt in my mind that this was not a studio produced tape. Far more likely in fact is that this was a home produced offering, with the artists employing two or more two track tape machines to layer the song.

This is not to suggest that the people doing this were doing anything terribly complicated or advanced. In fact, this was a process used by many people in the Sixties in order to do multi layered recordings. A basic recording could be done on one machine, and while that was being transferred from one tape to the other, a second level could be recorded, thereby building up the layers of the song.

From initially listening to the tape, I would suggest that the backing instruments were done first. This would explain their relative distance in the mix, as well as fact that the backing instruments suffer from the slight wobble that you get from this type of transfer, a wobble that the vocals do not suffer from in the same degree.

The vocals would then have been added. Listening to the tape with a trained ear, there seems to be a level of concentration on the parts of the singers that would seem to indicate that they were dealing exclusively with the lyrics, and not concentrating on playing as well. In fact, it does sound as if at least some of them were reading the lyrics.

Finally the reversed lala and possibly the little reversed snippet at the end of the piece would have been done with another transfer, reversing the master tape and playing it along with the vocalists as they sang the opening of the song.

I reversed the opening reversed lala section to have a close listen. The first thing that struck me was the level of musicality of the three singers. First of all, as this was recorded backwards, the singing would have to start loud and then fade in order for it to build it up on the final right-way-round opening. This in itself would seem to indicate a level of familiarity with backwards recording techniques, as the recording itself was quite loose, and doesn’t sound as if much thought went into the actual production of it. As well as this, even though I feel that the effect that the singers were trying to achieve was somewhat of a random one, you can clearly hear the singers harmonising with each other by instinct.

Curiously, just over nine seconds into the song, you can hear someone say “Sorry”, although it comes out reversed in the final song. I may be imagining things here, but this snippet sounds for all the world like George Harrison. Someone is also whistling as the track goes into the guitar piece, and we all know how found Lennon was of whistling in songs.

This edit piece is curious, it definitely sounds like two sets of singers overdubbed. This intro would therefore more likely to have been an edit piece, mixed into the beginning of the song, and the way that this fades out as the guitar playing starts would seem to confirm this. There does also seem to be an audible click were the tape machine was possibly turned off about three seconds after the initial singing finishes. I also suspect that the opening originally started with some sort of singing too, only the “right way round”, without reversing the tape, as some of the vocals in the background don’t seem to have that “backwards” effect. All in all, this is a very complicated way to produce a ramshackle start.

Moving to the guitars, the first one that comes in is a fairly plodding affair. I have always said that there were only two great instrumentalists in the Beatles, Paul and Ringo. George was great, but needed a lot of rehearsal and practice to get what he wanted. John was a plodder in everything he did. His playing lacked subtlety in general, and this guitar playing is somewhat like that. The bass is understated in this piece, and if there was one person who could do understated along with the fiercely complicated, because he could do the complicated, it was Paul.

The other guitar, once I had listened to it closer, was in fact somewhat of a revelation. Doesn’t it sound an awful lot like “Dear Prudence”? In fact, on examining “Dear Prudence” I realised that the two songs were practically identical, with the plodding Lennon backing guitar, the George overdub and the single plucked bass!

Let’s move on to placing this song in a definite time period.

An examination of the lyrics can leave you in no doubt that the song is very obviously acid or LSD based. The Beatles first took the drug in 1965, and as a side note, I dated the daughter of the infamous dentist who gave John and George their first trip and had the enormous pleasure of having my girlfriends mother describing that night to me!

There is one line in the lyrics that has always caught my ear; “And lead you to a brand new world that lately has been banned.” Acid was certainly new, in terms of its more common use in the mid Sixties. And in 1966 the use of it recreationally was banned in the UK. That, assuming that this was recorded in the Sixties, would place it very firmly in 1966, and not in 1967 as had been conjectured. So we can quickly discount the 1967 recording session idea because, if this is indeed a Beatles song, they would not have held onto this song for over a year, they usually moved far too fast to do that.

There are a lot of things to consider here. Two songs from this same period, both by Lennon, were the direct product of LCD, “She Said, She Said” and “Tomorrow Never Knows”.

Analysis of the lyrics of “Tommorow Never Knows” in particular and “Peace Of Mind” provides some stunning similarities.TNK

:-“It is shining, it is shining.”
POM:- “the candle burns a flame”

TNK:-“listen to the colours of your dreams”
POM:- “I need to hear the colours red and blue”

TNK:- “existence to the end, of the beginning”
POM:- “And just before it’s over, it’s really just begun”

TNK:- “It is not dying”
POM:- “Unless the novice die”

In 1966 Paul turned to George Martin and told him that The Beatles were working on a song that had just one chord in it. Martin understandably groaned when he heard this. Could it be that “Peace Of Mind” is actually “The Void”, the embryo, work in progress “Tomorrow Never Knows” that Paul had referred to?

Think of this song in the context of the album “Revolver”. That album would prove to be revolutionary in comparison to The Beatles previous output, and far more revolutionary than Sergeant Peppers would ultimately prove to be in my opinion. The Beatles songs had moved on very rapidly from the still quite old fashioned Beatles of “Rubber Soul”, and the two songs I have mentioned already from that album did provoke a large degree of head scratching from the public. What would have it been like if The Beatles had realised a song that was far more apparently drug related, and would have been far, far more downbeat than most of The Beatles offerings to date?

If “Peace Of Mind” were a tentative offering to the fledgling “Revolver” I feel, as The Beatles would have undoubtedly, that it would have been one step to far for a group who still, as yet, did not want the world to know that the money making machine that was the four clean cut mop tops were in fact, and had been for some time, pill popping maniacs? Wouldn’t it have been better to write a beatier, more obtuse song along the same lines and leave this pleasant little ditty for two years until such a time as their drug taking was well known, their Indian hiatus had taken place, and they could get away with the sort of song that would become “Dear Prudence”?

It wouldn’t have been the first time that Lennon would discard an idea only to return to it later in another form, look at “Child Of Nature”/”Jealous Guy” for example.

So, to our options from earlier; is this song by The Beatles, some other band, or some fakers?

To deal with the last issue first. We can assume for a start that any fakers would have had access to the same information that we all have. Could they have not recorded a pseudo-“Dear Prudence”, draped some acid drenched words over it, and passed it off as a Beatles offering?

First of all, let’s turn to the lyrics. Most, if not all Beatles pastiches tend to be blatantly obvious in this regard. Anyone but the most highly skilled forger attempting to copy The Beatles more psychedelic overtures would automatically reference the likes of “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds”. We’d have purple lemon tarts, and magic nurses and flowers and some such shite. If this is a fake there is a degree of subtlety in the writing that beggars belief. And why reference the “lately has been banned”?

There are so many lyrics here that just sound so much like Lennon-isms. “These things repressed inside”, “unless the novice die” (ubiquitous obscure throw away line), “take you by the hand”, “I nod and greet hello”, “please, please, please”.

Directly after the “please, please, please” there is an “oh”, which sounds like a Lennonism too. And talking about the vocals, most Beatle fakers tend to ham things up a bit, but this is not the case here. The only slight nod to Northern accents is in the line, “it’s really just begun”, where the “just” has an obvious scouse twist to it. Most fakers wouldn’t bother being that subtle.

The other Beatlisms vocally are at 1’08, where we here a distinctive George wobble in the world “hello”, the backwards vocal at 2’37” that also sounds like George, and the whinny high bits at the end which are classic Paul, but all done with incredible subtlety if this song is indeed a fake.

The tone of the singers may strike some as being un-Beatle like. In fact when Lennon went into the studio he did tend to ham up the big man, rocker, scouse bit. His home recordings did tend to be more laid back, just like this recording. Most people would surely have faked the studio Lennon, no?

Listen to “Have You Heard The Word” by The Fut for example, an unintentional fake that fooled most people for a long time. The vocalist throws in a million vocal Lennonisms, until it becomes quite obviously a pastiche. There is no evidence of this in “Peace Of Mind”.

But the level of chicanery goes even deeper than that, if chicanery it is.

Lennon nearly always sang along with his songs while he was doing backing tracks. This is definitely not normal recording procedure, and only someone who had the balls to flout normal recording conventions would record in this fashion. Listen closely to some of the Beatles released output and on many songs you can here another Lennon vocal distantly in the background.This is all the more evident in Beatles home produced recordings, as not much time would have been taken to hide the backing vocal through mike positioning or syncing the main vocal with the original, thereby covering it. Main vocals out of sync with the vocals on the backing tracks are much in evidence, for example, in the bootleg homemade recordings of Lennon during the period The Beatles were developing “The White Album”.

And it’s also in evidence in abundance on the “Peace Of Mind” recording. It’s can be heard particularly, for example, at 1’36” into the song, when a weedier vocal, and therefore obviously belonging to an earlier take, peeks out and says “again” out of time with the main vocalists. Someone had obviously sung the main line while recording the backing track. Who would do that?

Listen closely to that out of sync word by the way. It is one of the few times you can actually hear a separate voice. Who does it sound like? I’m not saying anything in case you might think I’m leading you, but the voice does definitely sounds familiar.

This level of attention to detail is really quite remarkable if you consider this recording a fake.

I’ve done enough harmonies in my time to know that these vocalists are pretty damn good. The harmonies, when the singers don’t forget them, are very, very close, and quite special in fact. So we have a bunch of talented fakers as well as everything else.

And what about the varispeed? The decision to take up the song a tone every now and then was very definitely an artistic one. The need for it was probably apparent once the song was played back for the first time; without it, the song would have sounded even more dirge like than it already is. Something in the minds of the people who wrote this song realised that their initial aim of producing a monotonal song like this fought against their inner popness. And the placing of the varispeed changes are quite special too. They could have been done far more obviously at the beginning of each verse, but they weren’t. And what sort of people would consider bastardising a recording they had spent time on like that. The sort of people who constantly bastardise their songs in the persuit of finding something special and different, that’s who.

Some people point out that the quality of the recording would indicate that it was not a Beatles recording. I would disagree. Those of us who have had the pleasure of listening to some of the Beatles home produced output will know that some of it was shear shite. Anyway, wouldn’t it be more natural to produce a slightly more sophisticated recording if one was faking it? No, in fact, comparing this with some of the 1967 recordings would indicate a definite and expected progression in the quality of the Beatles home recordings from poor to not so poor. This is exactly as we would expect from an early to mid ’66 Beatles home recording.

What is also typical of this period of recordings is the Indian influence of this song. 1966 was exactly the period that George was starting to dabble in Indian recordings, as evidenced by “Love You Too” from the “Revolver” album. The lead guitar playing is obviously Indian influenced, as is the vocal cymbal-like woosh near the end of the song, but its naive, as someone with only a limited amount of experience in Indian music would envisage it. Would a faker bother to fake that, I doubt it.

Taking all of this into consideration, I must conclude that “Peace Of Mind” is not the product of a faker.That leaves us with the two final options, The Beatles wrote this song or someone else did. To that I would say, if you can find me a group of people in the year 1966 who were familiar with varispeed, backwards recording techniques, who had at least two tape machines and mikes at home, who sang with slight Northern English accents, who had a damn good understanding of harmonies and of drug use, with strong writing skills, who could analysis a song, pinpoint its weakness and try to rectify them, who would provide a demo of that low quality to what ends, as it certainly wouldn’t be demo quality, who could play in the sort of understated way that came from experience of much bigger things, then I’d say Yes, it is a possibility that this song was recorded by a band other than The Beatles.

All I am asking is that you reconsider this song. If you have the means of finding out where it came from, then all the better. I mean, many Old Masters have been discovered years later after the grit and grime has been removed, why shouldn’t it be the same for recording artists?

I am aware that in Devin McKinneys book, “Magic Circles: The Beatles in Dream and History”, he also postulates the idea that “Peace Of Mind”/”Candle Burns” may actually be a Beatles song after all, although I haven’t been able to read it. If this is indeed the case that “Peace of Mind” is a Beatles recording, then I think we should endeavour, as a matter of urgency, to find the original, get it cleaned up, and have it return to its rightful place amongst the prestigious output of the greatest band of all times.


The above article is used with kind permission by the author, Patrick MacKeown. Patrick's original article can be found at: komputamuso.blogspot.com While the link to the song is dead on the original article, you can listen to "Candle Burns (Peace of Mind)" at: www.myspace.com/thecandleburns. Additionally, you can watch a "fake" video for the song at: www.youtube.com


Editor's Note:

I first became aware of "The Candle Burns (Peace of Mind)" in a 1976 issue of Circus magazine (Issue No. 134, June 17, 1976). The article, "The Complete Beatles Bootleg Catalogue" by Walter Winnick talks about the (then) "…approximately 40 different Beatles bootlegs currently on the market. The prices for bootleg LPs range from $10 to $3, depending on how rare or well-recorded that particular LP is. " When discussing the PEACE OF MIND album (1975 on the CBM label)., he states, "The title cut of this LP is actually a 1967 outake that was retrieved from an Apple Records trash can in 1970. The cut should have remained there-it's barely audible."

I finally got to hear the song in 1978, when I acquired an old vinyl Beatles bootleg from the '70s called "20X4". It's been a few years since I listened to this track, and I'm still on the fence on whether it is an authentic Beatle song or not. It's definitely NOT a studio out-take like it has been called several times before. Anyone familiar with true Beatle studio out-takes knows that the quality of this take is way too bad to have belonged to this category. If you've heard any of Lennon's home recordings of the '60s, they are very similar in quality. A Lennon home recording from 1966-67? Possibly.

I think the biggest clues that "Candle Burns" is NOT The Beatles (or a home-recorded Lennon song) is that:
a) It never ended up on "Lost Lennon Tapes"
and
b) Yoko never tried to copyright it.

Let me explain. Before "Candle Burns", one of the biggest "is it the Beatles?" songs was 1970's "Have You Heard The Word?" - which was eventually found out to be someone else, not the Beatles. The funny thing is: Yoko Ono mistakenly registered "Have You Heard the Word?" for copyright protection on Sept. 20, 1985. This despite the fact that Lennon himself, when asked about "Have You Heard The Word?" said on Sept 27, 1974: "No, no...uh I think they got that mixed up with 'The Word'...the Beatles' song '(The) Word' on Rubber Soul"...but there's no such song. It sound like us. It's a good imitation."

If it is not the Beatles, then who is it? Nobody has come forward to claim the song. I don't think it is the Apple artist "Trash", who have been linked to the song before. I think this came out because of the statement that this song was "found in an Apple trash can in 1970" - thus the link.

"The Candle Burns (Peace Of Mind)" even made it on to a recent Syd Barrett internet-trading compilation called HAVE YOU GOT IT YET, listed under 'Syd Barrett hoax tracks". The liner notes say:

Attributed to Lennon or Harrison or both, this "outfake" has been a perennial on Beatle bootlegs since the mid-1970s. It has long since been debunked and the identity of the person responsible been determined. However, there have been some attempts made to reclaim it under Syd's name, and so we include it here. It is a decent-enough bit of psychedelia, but not very convincing as a hoax. The Beatles, just possibly. Syd, not at all.

Could it have been an unscrupulous bootlegger of the '70s trying to "create Beatles product?" John C. Winn (BEATLEFAN issue #123 March-April 2000) stated that, "the supposed Beatles outtake "Peace of Mind" (allegedly recorded June '67 and found in a garbage can in 1970!) turned out to be merely some stoned bootleggers with a tape recorder and too much time on their hands."

When I spoke with John C. Winn via e-mail, he explained:

I don't think the "Peace of Mind" mystery has ever been fully solved. The "trash can" origin is mentioned in many listings in the 1980 bootleg discography "You Can't Do That", which took most of its info directly from sleeve notes, so I'd guess that story first appeared on some old bootleg cover.

Doug Sulpy passed along the rumor that the tape was originally done by some people trying to fake a Jefferson Airplane outtake, but when it ended up sounding more Beatlish, they tried to pass it off that way. More recently, someone wrote to the "910" to say that it was originally aired (as "Piece Of Mind") on underground radio in late 1969 as a Beatles jam session, which may be the origin of its entry into Beatles lore.

The only surprising thing about this is that so many people still believe it might have a Beatles connection, despite the fact that no evidence of such a title has turned up in the EMI tape log, the Lennon home archive, the 80 hours of "Get Back" sessions, copyright records, any written documentation, or any interview (Paul, Ringo, and George Martin have all been asked about "Peace Of Mind" and/or "The Candle Burns" and it didn't ring a bell with any of them). I would bet my entire collection that it's not a Beatle recording.

So, who do I think it is? I actually tend to lean towards the idea that the song was the discarded dream of an Apple hopeful artist in one of the many submissions to Apple Records. When the Beatles launched Apple in 1968, they advertised for submissions and got tons of material. So much, that most of it was not even listened to and was eventually thrown away. Could THIS be why it was found in the trash? As for the song itself - what better way to try and get The Beatles attention than trying to sound like the Beatles? That could also explain why it has never been claimed - it was the fluke of some young wannabe musician who eventually gave up on music and got a 9 to 5 job.

But who knows? It does make for a fun rock 'n roll mystery.