Rocky Raccoon – 5 of Swords
The Beatles (The White Album), 1968
Like most songs off the White Album, “Rocky Raccoon” was written in India, while the Beatles were learning Transcendental Meditation from the Maharishi. Paul claimed the song came to him quite quickly and easily while he got some lyrical ideas from John and the folk singer Donovan, who was also on spiritual retreat at the time.
“Rocky Raccoon” is an amusing parody of a western, a tale of revenge with the song’s title character looking to win back the affections of his woman Nancy from Dan, the rival who she’d run off with. Things ultimately end badly for Rocky, as Dan proves to be a better shot and guns him down in a duel.
Paul was good at writing these kinds of songs featuring little stories; other examples include “Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da” and “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer”. John didn’t care much for them. He found them vapid and silly. Years later, when asked who was the primary songwriter of “Rocky Raccoon”, John replied, “Couldn’t you guess? Would I have gone to all that trouble about Gideon’s Bible and all that stuff?”
Lyrically the song is about the conflict between Rocky and Dan, and their competition for the affections of Nancy. The 5 of Swords is the tarot card best associated with these themes. When this card appears in your reading, you’re invited to take a good luck at a conflict going on in your life.
Who are you fighting, and why? What does victory look like, and what might it cost you to pursue it? Could there be some sort of compromise that can be reached? Is it possible that you’d be better off walking away than engaging in a drawn-out battle for supremacy? Is it really all worth it? After all, it’s been said that in war, there are no winners. And Rocky’s pursuit of revenge for a woman that walked out on him nearly got him killed.
Gideon’s Bible is an interesting prop in the story and is also central to the lesson of the song. When we go through a rough ordeal like Rocky did, there’s always the potential for a spiritual lesson to be learned. Rocky didn’t win his girl back but fortunately for him a guy named Gideon left his Bible to help him gain greater understanding during his recovery.
“Rocky burst in, and grinning a grin
He said, ‘Danny boy, this is a showdown’.
But Daniel was hot, he drew first and shot
And Rocky collapsed in the corner.”
This is song #31 of the Beatles Song Tarot Project. Click here to learn more about this magical, mystical trip through the Beatles catalogue.