Tuna Fishing with the Walrus
The surrealist movement began in the 1920s, and many of its artists continued to do work well into the sixties and seventies. The most famous of these surrealists was Salvador Dali. In 1967, Dali painted what was regarded as one of his last masterpieces entitled Tuna Fishing. In the same year, the song “I am the Walrus” was written by the Beatles as a response to a fan letter they recieved. At this time in American history there existed a considerable resentment towards those in governmental power. In fact, the song and painting were released mere months before the protests of 1968 began, and at the height of the Civil Rights movement. People across the United States protested the war, as well as the lack of basic rights for many men and women. Although “I am the Walrus” was written in order to be confusing and indecipherable, it reflects the creation of an abstract reality, much like the Dali painting, Tuna Fishing, exposing the truths of the time period, and urging its audience to challenge what they are being handed. It should be noted that I will only be analyzing the first two verses of the song.
John Lennon, who wrote the song, intended it to be a protest against the analysis of the lyrics of his music. He was quoted with saying in regards to the lyrics of “I am the Walrus” “Let the fuckers work that one out”. Lennon wanted to ridicule those who regarded his lyrics as worthy of analysis. However, what Lennon failed to realize, though, is that by making his lyrics abstract, he was giving his audience even more room to analyze his work. Similarly, the surrealist movement was about making one’s own reality, not only in the literal sense, like an artist painting things that are not physically possible, but also giving the audience a chance to pull their own reality, hence “sur-reality”, from a piece of art. “I am the Walrus” was intended to be a song thats lyrics are made of strange phrases that are meant to confuse. In the end,...
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