Saturday, 14 June 2008

Lyrics & their meaning Part 13 - Lucy in the sky with diamonds

This continuing story of song lyrics and their meaning in some of the worlds best loved songs.

Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds (1967)

One of the great fallacies of Rock music is that the title of Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds was an intentional reference to the hallucinatory drug LSD.
Two weeks after the release of the revolutionary Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Heart Club Band, the Beatles publicly admitted to taking LSD and other drugs, but by this time the public “knew” that Lucy in the sky the song and its title were obviously more than mere coincidence. A song incorporating acid trip imagery, released on an album featuring psychedelic designs, at a time when LSD was very much in the news. Every one was in on this joke. The Beatles were well known for their very wicked sense of humour.
But this was where the public were wrong.
John Lennon while never denying that the song was inspired by countless acid trips (but then again so was the rest of the album.) He quickly explained the title was in fact a mere coincidence. The title was taken from a name Lennon’s 4 year old son had given to a drawing he made at school and proudly shown his dad.
But to no avail the people were no going to buy it. They knew Lennon better.
In Phillip Norman’s Beatle biography its recorded:
Even greater was the scandal arising from the discovery that “ Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” was a >mnemonic for LSD. In vain did John explain that it was simply the name his son, Julian, had given to a picture drawn at school.
To emphasize the point, In an Interview with Rolling Stone in 1970 Lennon stated:
“Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”…I swear to God or swear to Mao, or to anybody you like, I had no idea spelled LSD…
Lennon told much the same story during an interview in 1972 on the Mike Douglas Show and in September 1980, only a couple of months before his death, He was still offering the same story about the titles origin in an interview with Playboy Magazine.
This story has also been confirmed by the other Beatle members as late as 1997 for the Anthology series the most in depth documentary of the Beatles ever.
Paul McCartney tells his story”
What happened was that John’s son Julian did a drawing at school and bought it home, and he has a schoolmate called Lucy, and John said what’s that, and he said “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”….so we had a nice title.
There is no reason to doubt John Lennon. He was always open and honest, if not always careful of what he said. He admitted to using drugs, he admitted to taking over a hundred LSD trips. Why would he bother to deny one little story about the origins of a song unless it was true. He was more annoyed he didn’t think of it.
Update -- June, 2004:
In a new interview in Uncut Magazine, Paul detailed his drug use for the first time with the Beatles, which centered mostly around cocaine and that he had tried heroin once. In that interview, although Paul acknowledged that Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds had indeed been named for the drawing by Julian, he also said "it's pretty obvious" that the song is about an acid trip.

the picture by Julian Lennon
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©2004 Shidot Prod.


Anonymous said...

The picture was not about the drug LSD, it was about a picture that john's son Julian drew, of a girl in the night sky.

Anonymous said...
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