There are many crazy stories surrounding The Beatles during their heyday in the sixties, but Paul McCartney allowing “Jesus” into a recording session has to be right up there. The Fab Four have had more than a few confrontations with Christianity, saying they were “bigger than Jesus” and John Lennon once proclaiming himself as Christ incarnate following a strong acid trip, so we’ll be clear from the very beginning: we’re pretty sure it wasn’t the real Jesus.
The session in question was for the Paul McCartney-penned track, ‘Fixing A Hole’. The song featured on the band’s landmark LP Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and has been revered as one of the usually affable Macca’s more controversial pieces. Much of that controversy centred around the track’s apparent central theme of drugs.
Many people saw the song as an attempt to acknowledge the difficulties of living with addiction, most notably heroin. The drug was beginning to swamp the major player of the sixties music scene, and the link was easily drawn between McCartney and the drug. But the singer quickly moved to dispel those myths in The Observer when he said: “People have told me that ‘Fixing A Hole’ is all about junk, you know, this guy, sitting there fixing a hole in his arm. If you’re a junkie sitting in a room fixing a hole, then that’s what it will mean to you, but when I wrote it, I meant if there’s a crack or the room is uncolourful, then I’ll paint it.”
In fact, the track apparently has much more humble beginnings, as many point to McCartney’s struggle to fix the roof of his Scottish abode as the spark of inspiration that ignited the effort, but this is also untrue. “It was much later that I ever got round to fixing the roof on the Scottish farm; I never did any of that until I met Linda,” McCartney told Barry Miles in Many Years From Now. “People just make it up! They know I’ve got a farm, they know it has a roof, they know I might be given to handyman tendencies, so it’s a very small leap for mankind… to make up the rest of the story.”
Much like ‘Got To Get You Into My Life’, the song was actually an ode to marijuana and the freedom it afforded McCartney in his own mind. “It was the idea of me being on my own now, able to do what I want,” he told Miles. “If I want, I’ll paint the room in a colourful way… I was living now pretty much on my own in Cavendish Avenue and enjoying my freedom and my new house and the salon-ness of it all. It’s pretty much my song, as I recall. I like the double meaning of ‘If I’m wrong, I’m right where I belong’.”
Perhaps the most extraordinary moment of the song, however, is the entrance of Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ into the recording session. “A guy arrived at my front gate, and I said, ‘Yes? Hello,’ because I always used to answer it to everyone. If they were boring, I would say, ‘Sorry, no,’ and they generally went away,” McCartney told Miles of the unusual encounter that would lead to the glorious session.
“This guy said, ‘I’m Jesus Christ.’ I said, ‘Oop,’ slightly shocked,” he continued. “I said, ‘Well, you’d better come in then.’ I thought, Well, it probably isn’t. But if he is, I’m not going to be the one to turn him away. So I gave him a cup of tea, and we just chatted, and I asked, ‘Why do you think you are Jesus?’” asked the singer, perhaps wary of the effects LSD was having on the city who had been consumed by it over the previous 18 months.
“There were a lot of casualties about then,” McCartney confirmed. “We used to get a lot of people who were maybe insecure or going through emotional breakdowns or whatever. So I said, ‘I’ve got to go to a session, but if you promise to be very quiet and just sit in a corner, you can come.’ So he did, he came to the session, and he did sit very quietly, and I never saw him after that. I introduced him to the guys. They said, ‘Who’s this?’ I said, ‘He’s Jesus Christ.’ We had a bit of a giggle over that.”
The song would become a crucial part of Pepper and also be a sincere moment in McCartney’s own career, displaying an unusual sense of lyrical dexterity in the process. But, there can be no doubt, the main reason everyone will remember ‘Fixing A Hole’ is that Jesus Christ showed up at the recording session.