"What's the New Mary Jane" is a song written by John Lennon (but credited to Lennon/McCartney) and performed by The Beatles. It was recorded in 1968 for the album The Beatles (aka "The White Album"), but was not used.
An early acoustic demo of "What's the New Mary Jane" was recorded in late May 1968, at George Harrison's Esher home. It featured Lennon singing an octave higher than the final cut, placing the chorus at very beginning as well as throughout, and switching the words "cooking" and "groovy" in the second verse:
She liked to be married to yeti, he cooking such groovy spaghetti.
As opposed to:
She liked to be married to yeti, he grooving such cookie spaghetti.
Another member of The Beatles can also be heard shouting "What's the new Mary Jane? Oh, my goodness!" near the end of the demo. This variation is notably shorter than the released version, clocking in at around 2:40. The final version of this song was recorded on 14 August 1968 during the recording sessions for the Beatles' tenth album The Beatles (aka "The White Album"), with Lennon and George Harrison being the only band members playing on the track. Four takes were recorded with the final being marked as the best. It was later mixed in mono on 26 September with "Glass Onion", "Happiness Is a Warm Gun", and "I Will" and on the 10 October before being added to the shortlist for the new album. However during the album's final mixing stage, it was dropped due to time constraints, bringing the album down to 30 songs.
During an interview, Lennon commented on "What's the New Mary Jane", saying, "That was me, Yoko, and George sitting on the floor at EMI fooling around. Pretty good, huh?"
After the release of The Beatles, Lennon was still adamant to see the song released. So on November 26, 1969, he and wife Yoko Ono recorded further overdubs with plans for it to be issued as a single by Plastic Ono Band alongside another unreleased (at the time) song, "You Know My Name (Look Up the Number)", which was eventually issued as the B-side of the Beatles' "Let It Be" single in 1970. But when the other Beatles heard of John's plans to release a Beatle track under his own band's name the single was pulled. After that, the song had finally been planned to be issued on the album Sessions in 1985, but the album's release was cancelled due to objections by the Beatles. The song was not released until over 10 years later, during which time period it gained a certain aura of mystery. During this time, it could only be heard via bootlegs like Unsurpassed Demos, From Kinfauns to Chaos, Ultra Rare Trax Vol.5, and What A Shame, Mary Jane Had A Pain At The Party, a bootleg devoted to the song, as well as other outtakes from the same time period. A newly mixed version of the recording was officially released on the 1996 compilation Anthology 3.
The song has three verses and a chorus ("What a shame, Mary Jane had a pain at the party") and then approximately 5 minutes consisting of avant garde sound effects. The track ends with a comment from Lennon: "Let's hear it, before we get taken away".
- John Lennon — vocals, piano, effects
- George Harrison — vocals, acoustic guitar, effects
- Yoko Ono — vocals, effects
- Mal Evans — handbell, effects
Personnel per The Beatles Bible