The Disputed Origins Of The Beatles' “Lucy In the Sky With Diamonds”
“Lucy In the Sky With Diamonds,” the hit song off The Beatles’ iconic “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band'' album, ranks as one of the most memorable Beatles’ songs ever. Despite its incredible pop culture footprint, the song made it to just 34 on the US Billboard's year-end Hot 100.
Nevertheless, the song has been memorialized in everything from 3 million-year-old fossils to the discovery of the universe’s largest known diamond. Elton John once covered it to the tune of 1974’s #1 hit while William Shatner attempted it in a spoken-word style to the bane of everyone’s ears. So was there a real-life Lucy, what inspired the song, and is it really about LSD? Here’s everything you needed to know about The Beatles’ “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds.”
Julian Lennon's artwork that supposedly inspired Lennon to write "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds."
The Disputed Origins Of “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds”
According to John Lennon, the song has absolutely nothing to do with LSD. As he ardently insisted for years, it all started with a painting his son Julian did of his classmate Lucy. As he tells it, “This is the truth: My son came home with a drawing and showed me this strange-looking woman flying around. I said, ‘What is it?’ and he said, ‘It’s Lucy in the sky with diamonds,’ and I thought, ‘That’s beautiful.’ I immediately wrote a song about it. After the album had come out and the album had been published, someone noticed that the letters spelled out LSD, and I had no idea about it. … But nobody believes me.”
Paul McCartney’s Take
As Lennon detailed, nobody has ever really believed that the song was about anything other than LSD. Even McCartney, when talking about how drug use influenced the band agreed, "'Day Tripper,' that's one about acid. 'Lucy In The Sky,' that's pretty obvious. There are others that make subtle hints about drugs, but it's easy to overestimate the influence of drugs on The Beatles' music. Just about everyone was doing drugs in one form or another, and we were no different, but the writing was too important for us to mess it up by getting off our heads all the time."
However, in Lennon’s defense, he never shied away from admitting to drug use. Also worth noting are the multiple sources corroborating Lennon’s account. As Ringo Starr said, “I was actually with John when Julian came in with this little kid’s painting.”
Cynthia Lennon, John’s first wife, was also there. “I remember him coming home from school with it and showing it to his dad, who was sitting down. At the time he didn’t say, ‘Oh, my God! What a great title for a song,’ but it obviously stuck.” Lennon also stuck with his story until his tragic passing, “I swear to God, or swear to Mao, or to anybody you like, I had no idea it spelled LSD.”
Despite Lennon’s vehement declaration, the vast majority of people think “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds” was about drugs. Certainly, the British Broadcasting Company did as they banned the song due to “drug references.”
Certainly, Lennon’s explanation of the lyrics' genesis doesn’t help his case that copious amounts of drugs weren’t involved. "The girl with kaleidoscope eyes" turned out to be Yoko Ono. As Lennon put it, "There was also the image of the female who would someday come save me... a 'girl with kaleidoscope eyes' who would come out of the sky. It turned out to be Yoko, though I hadn't met Yoko yet. So maybe it should be 'Yoko in the Sky with Diamonds.'"
As for the song's imagery, well, only John said it best, "It was Alice in the boat," Lennon told Playboy in an interview. "She is buying an egg and it turns into Humpty Dumpty. The woman serving in the shop turns into a sheep and the next minute they are rowing in a rowing boat somewhere and I was visualizing that." Yea, but definitely not about LSD.
Tags: John Lennon | Julian Lennon | Paul McCartney | Ringo Starr
Like it? Share with your friends!