Golden Slumbers – Round 1




  • The “final medley” is a bit of a misnomer. It’s more like two medley-bedfellows. The last track ends completely, and Golden Slumbers starts up as its own thing, carrying through to The End. With this in mind, consider the following (you should skip this if you’re expecting a big point; I’m not sure what to make of this): tracks 1, 3, and 5 of side one (10:35, taken together) are passion projects of the three songwriters responsible (Come Together was Lennon’s favour to Timothy Leary, Maxwell was McCartney’s ode to Alfred Jarry, and Octopus was Ringo’s attempt at making the bitterest lemons into the sweetest lemonade, inspired by Peter Sellers); tracks 2, 4, and 6 are love songs (by Harrison, McCartney and Lennon, respectively, at 14:16 long). So, thematically, there’s a jaggedly zig-zig throughout side one. Then side two has the two interstitial sun/moon songs of Here Comes the Sun and Because (5:50), followed by a medley of eight songs divided into 5 continuous tracks (10:45) and 3 finale tracks (5:28), and a secret song (0:22). So that’s 6, 2, 5, 3, 1 which has a neat falling/building pattern in the 6-5 and the 2-3, while in the timing sense, it’s the other way around, building/falling, 10:35-10:45 and 5:50-5:28 (and if we add back in the secret track Her Majesty, which cuts out abruptly at 0:22, this would actually be 5:50-5:50), but this ignores the 14:16 of love songs, which might be the point, since they are the only love songs. I don’t know. In any case, there’s a very strange and interesting thematic structure at play here. Sun King (track 10; 2:26) is like a twin of Here Comes the Sun (track 7; 3:06) (these are both seven tracks from the start and finish). Mustard (11) and Pam (12) are a couplet like the interstitial tracks. You Never Give Me Your Money (9) and She Came In Through the Bathroom Window (13) bookend the first medley, and are both McCartney tracks detailing things that actually happened to him, as a result of being in the band. The third track from the beginning and the third from the end reference Silver and Golden. Carry That Weight (15) repeats a line of melody from You Never Give Me Your Money (9). I don’t know, maybe there’s a lot more that could be said. In any case, it seems like there’s a pattern at play here.
  • Right on the first note, Danny sees 237. This is interesting, because a) Danny has already passed this room, so the opening lyric “Once there was a way/To get back homeward” seems to allude to this mechanism of Danny’s noticing something he didn’t acknowledge before, and b) as we’ll see later, the wall above the bed in 237 has four bird paintings that perfectly reflect the four bird stickers on Danny’s door in Boulder. So 237 and the Boulder apartment share a strong psychic link, it seems. And Danny’s efforts to get in, Kubrick may be suggesting, are part of a desire to get back homeward.
  • “Once there was a way” (keep going; I’m making a point)
  • “To get back homeward”
  • “Once there was a way”
  • “To get back home” – So, the two shots of 237 appear with the same phrase sung overtop, first of all.
  • Second, note how the first 237 mirrors over Paul Peel’s After the Bath, which contains naked twins (a combination of the two ghosts Danny sees thanks to 237–the nude old lady and the twins), and how the second 237 mirrors over Hallorann’s mirror and face/eye-line–Danny is about to get a shine of the twins, and mirror Hallorann already got the complete shine of 237. Also, while it’s hard to make out in the image below, there’s two men in identical outfits (see further below) running around the wreckage, with red toques, similar to the one Hallorann’s wearing, and very similar to Danny’s shirt tone.
  • On the “To get back home” repeats, where Wendy was sitting, now there is a suddenly open door behind Danny (note that it was definitely closed four images ago). Later, when Danny is playing in the hall, 237 will be suddenly open, and after the pink ball rolls up, Danny will say, “Mom…?! Mom…?! Mom! Mom, are you in there?” So, Danny’s desire to get back into 237 is here being made to seem like the desire to return to the care of mother, to return to the womb. And perhaps this is the best justification for how Danny’s psyche allowed him to enter 237, which both Dick and probably Tony warned him to stay out of.
  • The American truck crushing the red Beetle in the shot below has been thought to be Kubrick’s way of saying to King “I fucked up your book! Deal with it!” (the Beetle in the book is red). I love that analysis, because it’s hilarious. But here, it’s almost like it’s saying something a little more bittersweet. There once was a way to get in the Beetle and drive home. Now there isn’t. And sure enough, in the forward action, we’ve seen the yellow Beetle for the last time. From now on, it’ll be presumed to be snowed completely under (even though it never appears in the exterior shots, where it should always be). Note too that just as we get a yellow and a red VW (Winnie-the-Pooh colours; Winnie for Wendy), Danny’s trike also undergoes a colour change, from white to red. The two Beatles albums before Abbey Road were The Yellow Submarine, and The White Album. And The White Album was when Yoko joined the gang, and, as many believe, sparked the beginning of the end. Danny’s white trike appears only during the first interior shot of the hotel on CLOSING DAY, which was, in a way, the beginning of the end for the Torrances.
  • Also, book Hallorann is a veteran of the Korean war, so that, in conjunction with the seeming WWII imagery of an American truck crushing a German car, speaks to the Thomas Wolfe idea of You Can’t Go Home Again. I know that’s not the plot of that book, but I think that concept resonated with a lot of vets who’ve come “home” from wars, only to find that everything feels different and unrelatable. Hallorann is going back “home” to where he lives half the year, and is even called back there from the room where he sleeps when he’s there (true in the book), only to get axed to death (or roqued half to death in the book). McCartney seems to be tapping into a similar notion here, and this line, perhaps better than any other expresses the full, objective horror of his loss of his second family.
  • Also, the whole first “Once there was a way/To get back homeward” plays over the scene of Wendy and Danny at breakfast, which, as discussed, bears numerous identical or near-identical qualities to the first breakfast from their first scene in the film. Most significantly, the fact that they’re watching the exact same episode of The Road Runner Show, called Stop! Look! And Hasten. Both Danny and Hallorann are stopping and looking (or slowing in Hallorann’s case), and then hastening away. They can’t get back homeward, because they’ve got to get back homeward!
  • Now, I would be remiss if I didn’t say a little something about the whole fake moon landing thing here, because I discovered something of note. Does it support the idea that Kubrick filmed b-reel of humanity’s first steps in outer space? No. But it does support the notion that that event was on Kubrick’s mind, concerning the ol’ moon room. As others have noted the distance from the earth to the moon is between 252,000 and 225,000 miles, or, on average 238,000 miles, which is pretty close to 237 (which might’ve been the number on record back in 1980, I don’t know–and apparently the moon drifts further away from the earth every year). But more to the point, the way we know the moon drifts away is thanks to the 1969 installation of the Laser Ranging Retro-Reflection (LRRR) by the Apollo 11 crew. When Danny is on his way to room 237, we see him make 4 turns. A left, then a right, then a right, then a right. Or LRRR. Now, I’ve always found the whole moon distance thing to be rather convenient, given the novel number was 217, which was the room King claimed to stay in at the Stanley Hotel, which inspired the novel. But that doesn’t mean Kubrick (a man who built a film set so sophisticated, it was known as NASA 2…by NASA) didn’t see an opportunity to seize on something he happened to know about, and then exploit it for this purpose. But what is the purpose? Well, first of all, conquest is an enormous theme of the film. But second of all, didn’t the moon mission have this You Can’t Go Home Again effect on the human race? Isn’t that what’s at the core of all the outer space denial of modern times? People can’t handle the stress of knowing that even the earth itself isn’t what it seems to be, or that time is running out rapidly for us to make any kind of conquest on the universe before something catastrophic on earth makes leaving earth next to impossible (if space debris doesn’t make it impossible first). Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar is practically only about that angst. But we wouldn’t have to feel that way en masse if we’d never gone there. I’m not defending ignorance. I’m saying that Kubrick is saying that breaking boundaries that are risky to break, and which can lead to atrocities (but should not, just to be clear) is also the only way that everything advances. It’s not the white man’s burden. It’s the everyone’s burden.
  • Also, in case you’re interested in a unique take on the door that just opened mysteriously behind Danny, check this out (though you will need to understand the language of the Overlook photographs first).
  • “Golden slumbers fill your eyes” – Hallorann has had a completely sleepless night, and Danny is never seen sleeping, only pretending to sleep. In the Snow White subtext of the film, Hallorann correlates to Sleepy, who always has sleepy eyes, much like Hallorann generally.
  • Also, I like to imagine that if Redrum Road was intentional, and if the Fibonacci theory is correct, that Kubrick used the Bartók song Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta for this moment (over Danny’s section) knowing that that song was composed using the Fibonacci sequence, which means it uses “golden spirals” as part of its construction. And here we have golden…slumbers…
  • “And I will sing a lullabye” – The twins appear on the word “sing”.
  • Behind Durkin on the counter here (which he’s turning toward as he hangs up the phone) is an album which appears to feature Irene Reid, the singer, but features a name credit that looks like Willene Barton, the saxophonist. Reid’s last album before The Shining came out was called Two of Us (1976). The title track bore the same name, but it wasn’t a cover of the Beatles. That said, Two of Us is the first track on the Beatles’ last album, Let It Be, and its original name was “On Our Way Home”. Willene Barton was unique for being a celebrated black musician (as opposed to singer) in the mid-20th century, but she put out almost no records, except a few personal EPs and a few where she was merely featured by the Dayton Selby trio. However, her one EP that discogs has a release date for is called Walking My Baby Back Home (1964).
  • So what do we have there on “sing”? We’ve got two old friends talking, two midcentury sirens (so to speak), two girls dressed in blue, a bunch of homeward bound imagery, a Two of Us reference, and a Burton/Barton situation. How’s that for dualism? To say nothing of the cartoon playing in the back there.
  • There’s a sweet moment of gravity in the music right as the cut to Jack’s first crazyballs scene gets underway. We’re about to hear “To get back home” and the whole last bit of this song’s lyrics, and since 237 is just up and to the left of where Jack’s working here, there’s a nice parallel in the way Danny wants to use 237 to get back home (to the womb), and in the way Jack wants to use his writing to get back home (to the grave).

Click here to continue on to Redrum Road: Carry That Weight – Round 1