George Harrison claimed that the song “Yellow Submarine” was heavily influenced by the music he listened to as a child. Some of these were music he enjoyed, while others were songs he despised. He claimed that this was one of the reasons The Beatles were so successful. They were open to listening to and drawing inspiration from tunes they didn’t particularly like. Growing young, all of the Beatles were huge music enthusiasts. They listened to a wide range of genres and drew inspiration from diverse tunes. As a result, Harrison had difficulty understanding those who exclusively listened to one music.
“I don’t get people who say, ‘I only like rock’n’roll,’ or ‘I only like the blues,’ or whatever,” Harrison said in The Beatles Anthology. “Even Eric Clapton claims to have been influenced by ‘The Runaway Train Went Over The Hill.'” My first musical memories, as I stated in my own book, I Me Mine, are stuff like ‘One Meatball’ by Josh White, and those Hoagy Carmichael songs and others like it.”
Harrison admitted that they drew inspiration from music they didn’t like. “Yellow Submarine,” for example, was reminiscent of tunes from the 1940s and 1950s. “I would say that even the crap music that we hated — that late Forties, early Fifties American schmaltz records like ‘The Railroad Runs Through The Middle Of The House’ or the British ‘I’m A Pink Toothbrush, You’re A Blue Toothbrush’ — that has had some kind of influence on us, whether we like it or not,” he explained. “Everything is in me in some way, and it could come out at any time.” It’s evident in the comedic character of several of our songs, such as the middle of ‘Yellow Submarine.'”
Given that Harrison disliked the song’s origin, it’s not surprise that he didn’t consider “Yellow Submarine” to be a masterpiece. He considered the album as a whole was lacking in compared to The Beatles’ other work. Nonetheless, he consented to republish the album in 1999 because he saw that there was a market for it. “I think it’s because it’s the same as when people were 9 or 16 back in the ’60s,” he told Billboard. “They liked it then, and they like it now for the same reasons: the songs are catchy, fun, and they still have whatever it was back then.” It’s boomin’ in those grooves. They’re also a welcome change from all the drum machine nonsense we’ve been hearing for the last 15 or 20 years. So I decided to cash in on the excitement [laughs] and release all of my previous recordings!” Yellow Submarine, an animated film, was released by the band in 1968. It featured their vocals and original music, but the characters were voiced by actors. It was widely praised, but Harrison had a different motive for appreciating it.
“Actually, the thing I like best about the movie is that we didn’t have to do anything to it,” George told VH1 in an interview. “They just took the music, we met with them, and they basically talked about what they were going to do.”