Saturday, January 21, 2006

Dizzy Miss Lizzy

AUTHORSHIP Larry Williams (1.00)

May 10, 1965, at Abbey Road

LENNON: Hammond orgran, lead vocal
HARRISON: lead guitar
STARR: drums

This recording appeared first on the U.S. album Beatles VI, released in June 1965, about two months before Help! appeared.
The original recording by Larry Williams was released February 24, 1958. It was not a Top 40 hit.
This song was part of the Beatles' live repertoire from 1960 to 1962 and again in 1965. The Complete Beatles Chronicle


AUTHORSHIP McCartney (.5) and Lennon (.5)
McCARTNEY: "We thought, 'Why not make something up?' So we got a riff going and arranged it around this riff. We said, 'We'll go to there for a few bars, then we'll do this for a few bars.' We added some lyrics, then we got the friends who were there to join in on the chorus. So that is 50-50 John and me, made up on the spot and recorded all on the same evening. I don't recall it being anybody's birthday in particular but it might have been, but the other reason for doing it is that, if you have a song that refers to Christmas or a birthday, it adds to the life of the song, if it's a good song, because people will pull it out on birthday shows, so I think there was a little bit of that at the back of our minds." Paul McCartney: Many Years from Now

LENNON: "Both of us [wrote it]." Hit Parader (April 1972)

LENNON: " 'Birthday' was written in the studio. Just made up on the spot. I think Paul wanted to write a song like 'Happy Birthday Baby,' the old '50s hit." September 1980, All We Are Saying: The Last Major Interview with John Lennon and Yoko Ono

September 18, 1968, at Abbey Road

CHRIS THOMAS, producer of the session: ". . . Paul was the first one in, and he was playing the 'Birthday' riff. Eventually the others arrived, by which time Paul had literally written the song, right there in the studio." The Complete BEATLES Recording Sessions; The Official Story of the Abbey Road Years 1962-1970
Harrison wore a glove during the session to avoid getting more blisters. The Long and Winding Road: An Intimate Guide to the Beatles
During a break in the session, the Beatles watched The Girl Can't Help It on television at McCartney's house. The 1956 film starred Jayne Mansfield and featured performances by Fats Domino, the Platters, Gene Vincent, and Little Richard. The Beatles Diary, Volume 1 : From Liverpool to London

McCARTNEY: piano, lead vocal
LENNON: lead guitar, backing and occasional lead vocal
HARRISON: bass, tambourine
STARR: drums
YOKO ONO: backing vocal
PATTI HARRISON: backing vocal

McCartney's piano was an upright that was prepared to sound like an electric harpsichord. The Long and Winding Road: An Intimate Guide to the Beatles

LENNON: "It was a piece of garbage." September 1980, All We Are Saying: The Last Major Interview with John Lennon and Yoko Ono

Friday, January 20, 2006

Drive My Car

AUTHORSHIP McCartney (.7) and Lennon (.3)
Paul arrived at John's house in Weybridge with the tune in his head but with very bad lyrics.

McCARTNEY: "The lyrics were disastrous and I kenw it. Often you just block songs out and words just come into your mind and when they do it's hard to get rid of them. You often quote other songs too and you know you've got to get rid of them, but sometimes it's very difficult to find a more suitable phrase than the one that has insinuated itself into your consciousness. This is one of the songs where John and I came nearest to having a dry session. The lyrics I brought in were something to do with golden rings, which is always fatal. 'Rings' is fatal anyway, 'rings' always rhymes with 'things' and I knew it was a bad idea. I came in and said, 'These aren't good lyrics but it's a good tune.' The tune was nice, the tune was there, I'd done the melody. Well, we tried, and John couldn't think of anything, and we tried and eventually it was, 'Oh let's leave it, let's get off this one.' 'No, no. We can do it, we can do it.' So we had a break, maybe had a cigarette or a cup of tea, then we came back to it, and somehow it became 'drive my car' instead of 'gold-en rings', and then it was wonderful because this nice tongue-in-cheek idea came and suddenly there was a girl there, the heroine of the story, and the story developed and had a little sting in the tail like 'Norwegian Wood' had, which was 'I actually haven't got a car, but when I get one you'll be a terrific chauffeur'. So to me it was LA chicks, 'You can be my chauffeur', and it also meant 'you can be my lover'. 'Drive my car' was an old blues euphemism for sex, so in the end all is revealed. Black humour crept in and saved the day. It wrote itself then. I find that very often, once you get the good idea, things write themselves. So that was my idea and John and I wrote the words, so I'd go 70-30 on that to me." Paul McCartney: Many Years from Now

Lennon attributed authorship to both himself and McCartney. Hit Parader (April 1972)
McCartney originally wrote the song with the lyric "You can give me golden rings." In the studio, Lennon said the line was "crap" and they both came up with "You can drive my car," which they agreed was better.
McCARTNEY: "The idea of the girl being a bitch was the same but it made the key line better." Newsweek via Compleat(b)

October 13, 1965, at Abbey Road

There are small differences in John and Paul's vocals during the last vese. MARTIN: "That was never intended, but they did it that way. It was live, and things such as that slipped my attention. Once it went through and I saw it was there, I didn't think it was worthwhile calling them in again to replace a line; life's too short!" Musician (July 1987)

HARRISON: ". . . If [Paul] had written a song, he'd learn all the parts for Paul and then come in the studio and say (sometimes he was very difficult): 'Do this.' He'd never give you the opportunity to come out with something. But on 'Drive My Car' I just played the line, which is really like a lick off 'Respect,' you know, the Otis Redding version - duum-da-da-da-da-da-da-dum - and I played that line on the guitar and Paul laid that with me on bass. We laid the track down like that. We played the lead part later on top of it." Crawdaddy (February 1977)

McCARTNEY: bass, guitar, piano, lead vocal
LENNON: tambourine, lead vocal
HARRISON: lead guitar, backing vocal
STARR: drums


AUTHORSHIP McCartney (.95) and Lennon (.05)
Paul wrote "Blackbird" at his farm in Scotland. Shortly afterwards, on a warm summer night back in London, he sat next to the open window of his top-floor music room and sang the song, accompanying himself on acoustic guitar. For the fans gathered in the darkness beyond his gates this unwitting free concert was the sort of magical moment that made their vigil worthwhile.
McCARTNEY: "The original inspiration was from a well-known piece by Bach, which I never know the title of, which George and I had learned to play at an early age; he better than me actually. Part of its structure is a particular harmonic thing between the melody and the bass line which intrigued me. Bach was always one of our favourite composers; we felt we had a lot in common with him. For some reason we thought his music was very similar to ours and we latched on to him amazingly quickly. We also liked the stories of him being the church organist and wopping this stuff out weekly, which was rather similar to what we were doing. We were very pleased to hear that.
"I developed the melody on guitar based on the Bach piece and took it somewhere else, took it to another level, then I just fitted the words to it. I had in mind a black woman, rather than a bird. Those were the days of the civil-rights movement, which all of us cared passionately about, so this was really a song from me to a black woman, experiencing these problems in the States: 'Let me encourage you to keep trying, to keep your faith, there is hope.' As is often the case with my things, a veiling took place so, rather than say 'Black woman living in Little Rock' and be very specific, she became a bird, became symbolic, so you could apply it to your particular problem.
"This is one of my themes: take a sad song and make it better, let this song help you. 'Empowerment' is a good word for it. Through the years I have had lots of wonderful letters from people saying, 'That song really helped me through a terrible period.' I think that the single greatest joy of having been a musician, and been in the Beatles, is when those letters come back to you and you find that you've really helped people. That's the magic of it all, that's the wonder, because I wrote them with half an idea that they might help, but it really makes me feel very proud when I realise that they have been of actual help to people." Paul McCartney: Many Years from Now

LENNON: "I gave him a line on that one." September 1980, All We Are Saying: The Last Major Interview with John Lennon and Yoko Ono
June 11, 1968, at Abbey Road, by McCartney

McCARTNEY: acoustic guitar, metronome, lead vocal (occasionally double-tracked)
Blackbirds: singing

The blackbird itself was taken from an ornithological record in the EMI sound archives.
McCARTNEY: "He did a very good job, I thought. He sings very well on that." Paul McCartney: Many Years from Now

McCartney said that one of his most cherished moments as a songwriter was when he woke one morning to the sound of a blackbird singing the tune of this song.
McCartney was happy and sat on a windowsill playing an acoustic guitar and serenading the fans around his house by singing this song on the night Linda Eastman arrived from New York to live with him in late summer 1968. McCartney: The Definitive Biography

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Don't Let Me Down

UNITED KINGDOM: Released as a single April 11, 1969, as the B-side of "Get Back." The Long and Winding Road: An Intimate Guide to the Beatles

UNITED STATES: Released as a single May 5, 1969. It entered the Top 40 May 10, and spent three weeks there, climbing to No. 35. The Long and Winding Road: An Intimate Guide to the Beatles and Billboard

AUTHORSHIP Lennon (1.00)
McCARTNEY: "It was a very tense period: John was with Yoko and had escalated to heroin and all the accompanying paranoias and he was putting himself out on a limb. I think that as much as it excited and amused him, at the same time it secretly terrified him. So 'Don't Let Me Down' was a genuine plea, 'Don't let me down, please, whatever you do. I'm out on this limb, I know I'm doing all this stuff, just don't let me down.' It was saying to Yoko, 'I'm really stepping out of line on this one. I'm really letting my vulnerability be seen, so you must not let me down.' I think it was a genuine cry for help. It was a good song. We recorded it in the basement of Apple for Let It Be and later did it up on the roof for the film. We went through it quite a lot for this one. I sang harmony on it, which makes me wonder if I helped with a couple of words, but I don't think so. It was John's song." Paul McCartney: Many Years from Now

January 28, 1969, at Apple Studios

When first rehearsing this song January 22, Lennon asked Starr to crash his cymbals loudly to "give me the courage to come screaming in." The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions: The Official Story of the Abbey Road Years 1962-1970

McCARTNEY: bass, harmony vocal
LENNON: lead guitar, lead vocal (double-tracked)
HARRISON: rhythm guitar
STARR: drums

All You Need Is Love

UNITED KINGDOM: Released as a single July 7, 1967. In five days it was No. 1, where it remained for four weeks. The Long and Winding Road: An Intimate Guide to the Beatles

UNITED STATES: Released as a single July 17, 1967. It entered the Top 40 chart July 29, hit No. 1 for one week, and spent nine weeks in the Top 40. Billboard and The Long and Winding Road: An Intimate Guide to the Beatles

AUTHORSHIP Lennon (1.00)
McCartney said on July 22, 1967, that the song was written in two weeks as a message to the world.

McCARTNEY: " 'All You Need Is Love' was John's song. I threw in a few ideas, as did the other members of the group, but it was largely ad libs like singing "She Loves You" or "Greensleeves" or silly little things at the end and we made those up on the spot. The chorus 'All you need is love' is simple, but the verse is quite complex, in fact I never really understood it, the message is rather complex. It was a good song that we had handy that had an anthemic chorus." Paul McCartney: Many Years from Now

The song was written in late May 1967 for live performance via satellite on the Our World TV spectacular on June 25. Our World was the first live worldwide TV program, six hours long, and seen in twenty-four countries by an estimated 400 million people. The Long and Winding Road: An Intimate Guide to the Beatles
It featured live performances from the various participating countries; the Beatles represented Britain and were shown recording this song.
Other nations' contributions included a Van Cliburn piano recital from the United States and segments on lady streetcar conductors in Australia, and eccentric painters in France. The Beatles Diary, Volume 1 : From Liverpool to London

Recording began June 14, 1967, at Olympic Studios, where a backing track - ten minutes long - was done. The song was added to at a session at Abbey Road and shortened to six minutes. During the Our World performance, the backing track was used to which the Beatles sang and played live.

MARTIN: "[The song] had to be kept terribly secret, because the general idea was that the television viewers would actually see the Beatles at work recording their new single - although, modern recording being what it is, we obviously couldn't do that for real; so we laid down a basic rhythm track first of all. I remember that one of the minor problems was that George had got hold of a violin which he wanted to try to play, even though we couldn't!"
"I did a score for the song, a fairly arbitrary sort of arrangement since it was at such short notice. . . . The mixture I came up with was culled from the 'Marseillaise' [the French national anthem], a Bach two-part invention, 'Greensleeves,' and a little lick from 'In The Mood.' I wove them all together, at slightly different tempos so that they all still worked as separate entities." All You Need Is Ears : The inside personal story of the genius who created The Beatles

McCARTNEY: "George Martin always has something to do with it, but sometimes more than others. For instance, he wrote the end of 'All You Need Is Love' and got into trouble because the 'In The Mood' bit was copyrighted. We thought of all the great cliches because they're a great bit of random. It was a hurried session, and we didn't mind giving him that to do - saying, 'There's the end, we want it to go on and on.' Actually, what we wrote was much more disjointed, so when we put all the bits together we said, 'Could we have "Greensleeves" right on top of that little Bach thing?' And on top of that we had the 'In The Mood' bit.
"George is quite a sage. Sometimes he works with us, sometimes against us; he's always looked after us. I don't think he does as much as some people think. He sometimes does all the arrangements and we just change them." Beatles in Their Own Words

Lennon's lead vocal was re-recorded before this song was released as a single. All You Need Is Ears : The inside personal story of the genius who created The Beatles

It took five days of recording and mixing to get the song right but Paul's bass, John's vocal, George's solo and Ringo's drums, as well as the orchestra, were all broadcast live during the event. The Beatles invited Brian Jones, Keith Richards, Mick and Marianne and dozens of other friends to the session, which was staged as a party in Studio One at Abbey Road. Paul McCartney: Many Years from Now

McCARTNEY: string bass played with a bow
LENNON: harpsichord
HARRISON: violin (first time he ever played it)
STARR: drums

McCARTNEY: electric bass
LENNON: lead vocal
HARRISON: guitar
STARR: drums
SESSION MUSICIANS: two trumpets, two trombones, two saxophones, one accordion, four violins, and two cellos

McCARTNEY: backing vocal
LENNON: lead vocal
HARRISON: backing vocal
A studio orchestra
Chorus included: Mick Jagger, Gary Leeds, Keith Richards, Marianne Faithful, Jane Asher, Patti Harrison, Keith Moon, and Graham Nash

Lennon and McCartney sang a chorus of "She Loves You" as the song faded.

The group produced the single faster than any other: written in late May, recorded by June 25, and released on July 7 (in the United Kingdom). "A Hard Day's Night" was written and recorded in less time but not released as quickly.

At the Abbey Road session, McCartney wore a shirt he painted himself.
McCARTNEY: "I stayed up all night the night before. I didn't mean to but I was drawing on a shirt. I had these pen things that you used to draw with and the ink didn't wash out. I stayed up all night doing it, and the shirt was nicked the next day. Who has it, I don't know. One of these days Sotheby's [an auction house] will tell." It Was Twenty Years Ago Today

HARRISON: "John has an amazing thing with his timing - he always comes across with very different time signatures, you know. For example, on 'All You Need Is Love' it just sort of skips a beat here and there and changes time. But when you question him as to what it is he's actually doing, he really doesn't know. He just does it naturally. . . ." The Beatles: A Celebration

McCARTNEY: "We had been told we'd be seen recording it by the whole world at the same time. So we had one message for the world - love. We need more love in the world." July 1967, McCartney: The Definitive Biography

McCARTNEY: "I don't know what you need." The London Times (May 30, 1987)

ALBERT GORE, politician, and wife TIPPER, crusader against "obscene" rock lyrics, played this song as their wedding recessional. Newsweek (December 21, 1987)

BRIAN EPSTEIN: "It is a wonderful, beautiful, spine-chilling record. It cannot be misinterpreted. It is a clear message saying that love is everything." July 1967, Melody Maker via 20 Years

KEITH RICHARDS, Rolling Stones: "Try livin' off of it." RS (December 10, 1987)

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Devil In Her Heart

AUTHORSHIP Richard P. Drapkin (1.00)

July 18, 1963, at Abbey Road

McCARTNEY: bass, backing vocal
LENNON: rhythm guitar, backing vocal
HARRISON: lead guitar, lead vocal (double-tracked)
STARR: drums, maracas

The original recording artist was the Donays, who released it as a single August 6, 1962. It did not crack the Top 40. The Long and Winding Road: An Intimate Guide to the Beatles
Because the Donays were female, the original title was "Devil in His Heart."
This song was part of the Beatles' repertoire for concerts in 1962 and 1963. The Complete Beatles Chronicle

And Your Bird Can Sing

AUTHORSHIP Lennon (.8) and McCartney (.2)
McCARTNEY: " 'And Your Bird Can Sing' was John's song. I suspect that I helped with the verses because the songs were nearly always written without second and third verses. I seem to remember working on that middle-eight with him but it's John song, 80-20 to John." Paul McCartney: Many Years from Now

April 20, 1966, at Abbey Road, but remade April 26

McCARNTEY: bass, harmony vocal
LENNON: rhythm guitar, lead vocal
HARRISON: lead guitar, harmony vocal
STARR: drums, tambourine

LENNON: "Another horror." Hit Parader (April 1972)

LENNON: "Another of my throwaways." September 1980, All We Are Saying: The Last Major Interview with John Lennon and Yoko Ono

HARRISON: "Listening to the [compact discs], there are some really good things [that can be heard], like 'And Your Bird Can Sing,' where I think it was Paul and me, or maybe John and me, playing in harmony - quite a complicated little line that goes right through the middle-eight." Guitar (November 1987)

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Dig It

AUTHORSHIP Lennon (.25), McCartney (.25), Harrison (.25), and Starr (.25)
The final recording began as a jam on Bob Dylan's "Like A Rolling Stone."

Rehearsed with the tapes rolling January 24, 1969, at Apple Studios, then remade January 26

McCARTNEY: piano
LENNON: vocal
HARRISON: lead guitar
STARR: drums

The litany of celebrated personalities and institutions in the song was improvised by Lennon in the studio, as was the musical backing.
Among those named by Lennon were: Matt Busby (Manchester United soccer club manager), bluesman B. B. King, and actress Doris Day. Also included were various acronyms - the FBI, CIA, BBC.

A World Without Love

AUTHORSHIP McCartney (1.00)
Peter and Gordon spent two years circulating tapes to record companies, trying to make a name for themselves, but to no avail - until Paul began going out with Jane Asher. Then record companies suddenly became very interested indeed. Peter Asher met an A & R man at the Pickwick Club who was quickly convinced of their talent and signed them to EMI. Now that Peter had a record label, Paul gave him a song to launch his career. It was called 'World Without Love', something Paul wrote when he was sixteen at Forthlin Road though he changed the words a bit for Peter and Gordon.

McCARTNEY: "So I got in with Peter and met Gordon. But Peter was part of a crowd and he knew a slightly different group of people from me. I could talk to him about anything. I was slightly older. I was the Beatle. We were both interested in music and I wrote their first hit song." Paul McCartney: Many Years from Now

LENNON: "An early one he wrote when he was about sixteen or seventeen. I think he changed the words later for the record by Peter and Garfunkel or something." Hit Parader (April 1972)
Lennon derisively thought the lyrics of this song were hilarious, particuarly the line "Please lock me away." Lennon : The Definitive Biography

McCARTNEY: "The funny first line always used to please John. 'Please lock me away -' 'Yes, okay.' End of song. It was an early song of mine that we didn't use for the Beatles that I thought would be good for Peter and Gordon - and it was." Paul McCartney: Many Years from Now

Paul had previously offered it to Billy J. Kramer, who rejected it. It was released in Britain on February 28, 1964, and reached number one in May, actually pushing the Beatles' "Can't Buy Me Love" from the top of the charts. In America it reached number one in June. A double US/UK number-one record was not a bad way to start a career. It also showed that even a song that Paul did not regard as good enough for the Beatles could still be commercial. Paul McCartney: Many Years from Now

Monday, January 16, 2006

Dehra Dun

AUTHORSHIP Harrison (.8) Donovan (.2)
From time to time the Maharishi would organise day trips to Dehra Dun or other nearby towns in order that the meditators did not get too cut off from everyday reality, though usually they would make their own arrangements. These included fairly frequent appearances of the Beatles and their wives and girlfriends at Nagoli's restaurant in Dehra Dun. Paul McCartney: Many Years from Now

A Whiter Shade Of Pale

On 15 May 1967, Paul was out on the town.
"The night I met Linda I was in the Bag o'Nails watching Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames play a great set. Speedy was banging away. She was there with the Animals, who she knew from photographing them in New York. They were sitting a couple of alcoves down, near the stage. The band had finished and they got up to either leave or go for a drink or a pee or something, and she passed our table. I was near the edge and stood up just as she was passing, blocking her exit. And so I said, 'Oh, sorry. Hi. How are you? How're you doing?' I introduced myself, and said, 'We're going on to another club after this, would you like to join us?'

"That was my big pulling line! Well, I'd never used it before, of course, but it worked this time! It was a fairly slim chance but it worked. She said, 'Yes, okay, we'll go on. How shall we do it?' I forget how we did it, 'You come in our car' or whatever, and we all went on, the people I was with, and the Animals, we went on to the Speakeasy.

"It was the first evening any of us had ever heard a record called 'A Whiter Shade of Pale' with words about feeling seasick. The lyrics were all very strange and poetic and the theme was a famous Bach theme but we didn't know that. We just thought, God, what an incredible record! It was a sort of marker record. It was a benchmark. And we were all trying to guess who it was. So we had to go to the booth and ask, 'What was that one you just played?' and he said, 'Oh yes,' "Whiter Shade of Pale" by Procol Harum.' 'Procol what? Is it Latin or something?' And there were rumours went around about what that meant. So all the mystery of the evening.

LINDA: I first met Paul at the Bag o'Nails. The Animals were old friends because I'd photographed them so much in New York, so when I came to London they took me out; and we went to see Georgie Fame at the Bag o'Nails. And that's where Paul and I met. We flirted a bit, and then it was time for me to go back with them and Paul said, 'Well, we're going to another club. You want to come?' I remember everybody at the table heard 'A Whiter Shade of Pale' that night for the first time and we all thought, Who is that? Stevie Winwood? We all said Stevie. The minute that record came out, you just knew you loved it. That's when we actually met. Then we went back to his house. We were in the Mini and I think Lulu and Dudley Edwards, who painted Paul's piano; Paul was giving him a lift home. I was impressed to see his Magrittes."Paul McCartney: Many Years from Now

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Don't Bother Me

AUTHORSHIP Harrison (1.00)

HARRISON: "The first song that I wrote - as an exercise to see if I could write a song. I wrote it in a hotel in Bournemouth, England, where we were playing a summer season in 1963. I was sick in bed - maybe that's why it turned out to be 'Don't Bother Me.'
"I don't think it's a particularly good song, it mightn't even be a song at all, but at least it showed me that all I needed to do was keep on writing and then maybe eventually I would write something good." I Me Mine
Bill Harry, then editor of Mersey Beat, disagrees with Harrison's story. He said he pestered Harrison to write a song other than the instrumental, "Cry for a Shadow," and that finally Harrison did just to stop Harry from bothering him. The Long and Winding Road: An Intimate Guide to the Beatles and Beatles Illustrated Record : 3rd Revised Edition

HARRISON: "The first song I ever wrote was in Bournemouth when I was feeling a bit sick. In fact, I was in bed and the doctors were giving me some tonic and I thought I might as well write a song, so I wrote one, it was an awful song, called 'Don't Bother Me', which, I suppose, is how I felt at the time." The Beatles Off the Record: Outrageous Opinions & Unrehearsed Interviews

September 11 and 12, 1963, at Abbey Road

McCARTNEY: bass, claves
LENNON: rhythm guitar, tambourine
HARRISON: lead guitar, vocal (double-tracked)
STARR: drums, bongos, loose-skinned Arabian bongo

LENNON, replying to Harrison's complaints of mistreatment of his songs, autumn 1969: "We put a lot of work in your songs, even down to 'Don't Bother Me'; we spent a lot of time doing all that and we grooved - I can remember the riff you were playing." John Lennon: One Day At A Time

HARRISON: "To write a song . . . even one like 'Don't Bother Me,' helps to get rid of some subconscious burden. Writing a song is like going to confession." I Me Mine

Across The Universe

AUTHORSHIP Lennon (1.00)
LENNON: "I was lying next to me first wife in bed, you know, and I was irritated. She must have been going on and on about something and she'd gone to sleep and I'd kept hearing these words over and over, flowing like an endless stream. I went downstairs and it turned into sort of a cosmic song rather than an irritated song. . . . It drove me out of bed. I didn't want to write it, I was just slightly irritable and I went downstairs and I couldn't get to sleep until I put it on paper. . . ." September 1980, All We Are Saying: The Last Major Interview with John Lennon and Yoko Ono

McCARTNEY: "'Across The Universe' is one of John's great songs. It had special words." Paul McCartney: Many Years from Now

February 4, 1968, at Abbey Road, with overdubbing February 8. This recording then lay unused for several months until, in different forms, it appeared on a charity album for the World Wildlife Fund (released December 1969) and Let It Be. For the charity album, the original recording was speeded up and wildlife sound effects were added during the mixing process on October 2, 1969. For Let It Be, producer Phil Spector removed some sounds from the original tape, slowed it down, and overdubbed an orchestra and choir.

Lennon and McCartney decided during the February 4 session that they wanted falsetto harmonies on the song. McCartney went out to the fans gathered outside the studio, talked to them and invited two in for a try. The Complete BEATLES Recording Sessions; The Official Story of the Abbey Road Years 1962-1970

LENNON: "The original track was a real piece of shit. I was singing out of tune and instead of getting a decent choir, we got fans from outside . . . Apple Scruffs or whatever you call them. They came in and were singing all off-key. Nobody was interested in doing the tune originally." Lennon : The Definitive Biography

McCARTNEY: piano
LENNON: acoustic guitar, lead guitar, organ, vocal
STARR: maracas
GEORGE MARTIN: organ (with Lennon)
SESSION MUSICIANS: strings and choir (overdubbed)
LIZZIE BRAVO and GAYLEEN PEASE: falsetto background vocals (on "Nothing's going to change my world" - not used on Let It Be)

The first version of this song was originally meant to be the A side of the March 1968 single, but "Lady Madonna" replaced it at the last minute.
Work on it began one day after "Lady Madonna" was recorded. The Complete Beatles Chronicle
David Bowie later recorded this song for his Young Americans LP with Lennon's guitar accompaniment.

LENNON: "Did I play on that too? Oh yeah, my God, jeeze, I did too. I didn't remember that. . . . I only remember the Fame session." December 6, 1980, The Last Lennon Tapes

LENNON: "This was one of my favourite songs, but it's been issued in so many forms that it's missed it as a record. I gave it at first to the World Wild Life Fund, but they didn't do mcuh with it, and then we put it on the Let It Be album." Beatles in Their Own Words
"One of my best songs. Not one of the best recordings, but I like the lyrics." Hit Parader (April 1972)

LENNON: ". . . The Beatles didn't make a good record of it. I think subconsciously sometimes we - I say 'we,' though I think Paul did it more than the rest of us; Paul would . . . sort of subconsciously try and destroy a great song . . meaning that we'd play experimental games with my great pieces, like 'Strawberry Fields' - which I always felt was badly recorded. That song got away with it and it worked. But usually we'd spend hours doing little detailed cleaning-ups of Paul's songs; when it came to mine, especially if it was a great song like 'Strawberry Fields' or 'Across The Universe,' somehow this atmosphere of looseness and casualness and experimentation would creep in." September 1980, All We Are Saying: The Last Major Interview with John Lennon and Yoko Ono

LENNON: "Phil [Spector] slowed the tape down, added the strings. . . . He did a really special job." Lennon : The Definitive Biography


Location London, South Kensington; Sale Date: Apr 30, 2003
Lot Number: 192; Sale Number: 9616
Lot Title: The Beatles And Donovan

Estimate 300 - 500 British pounds
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Lot Description: The Beatles And Donovan
A PHILIPS C-60 Compact Cassette tape partly recorded in India at the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi's academy in Rishikesh, India, between February and April, 1968 -- the A-Side label inscribed in blue ballpoint pen in an unknown hand Donovan Across The Universe, Maharishi/Happiness Runs, Wedding Of Shiva, vedic Chants, Maharishi Speech, the B-side label inscribed in black felt pen [faded] in an unknown hand Chant/Oobla Dee/Rocky Racoon -- [the Beatles songs taped from a record] -- the tape includes a rendition of the Beatles' song Across The Universe by Donovan (approx. 4 mins. long), in which Lennon, the Maharishi and others can be heard in the background, the Maharishi laughs at the song's chorus Nothing's gonna change my world.. at which point Lennon can be heard saying That's why I want to do it again - change that line..... at the end of the song Lennon comments ..We've all been humming that in our meditation..; Donovan also sings a song he's written about the Maharishi (approx. 2 mins. long) to the approval of the guru himself and a group of his students - running time approx. 56 mins. long