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Across the Universe

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"Across the Universe"
Song by The Beatles
Album Let It Be
Released 8 May 1970
Recorded 4 February 1968, Abbey Road Studios, London, England
Genre Pop/Rock
Length 3:47
Label Apple
Writer Lennon/McCartney
Producer Phil Spector
Let It Be track listing
I like 'Across the Universe,' too. ... It's one of the best lyrics I've written. In fact, it could be the best, I don't know. It's one of the best; it's good poetry, or whatever you call it, without chewin' it, it stands. See, the ones I like are the ones that stand as words without melody, that don't have to have any melody. It's a poem, you know; you could read 'em.

—John Lennon, "Lennon Remembers" interview in Rolling Stone, 1971

I was a bit more artsy-fartsy there. I was lying next to my first wife in bed [Cynthia, in 1967], you know, and I was irritated. She must have been going on and on about something and she'd gone to sleep — and I kept hearing these words over and over, flowing like an endless stream. I went downstairs and it turned into a sort of cosmic song rather than an irritated song — rather than 'Why are you always mouthing off at me?' or whatever, right? But the Beatles didn't make a good record of it. I think subsconsciously sometimes we — I say 'we,' though I think Paul did it more than the rest of us; Paul ... sort of subconsciously try and destroy a great song. ...

It was a lousy track of a great song and I was so disappointed by it. It never went out as the Beatles; I gave it to the Wildlife Fund of Great Britain, and then when Phil Spector was brought in to produce Let It Be, he dug it out of the Beatles files and overdubbed it. The guitars are out of tune and I'm singing out of tune 'cause I'm psychologically destroyed and nobody's supporting me or helping me with it and the song was never done properly.

But the words stand, luckily, by themselves. They were purely inspirational and were given to me as boom! I don't own it, you know; it came through like that. I don't know where it came from, what meter it's in, and I've sat down and looked at it and said, 'Can I write another one with this meter?' It's so interesting. 'Words are flying out like [sings] endless rain into a paper cup, they slither while they pass, they slip across the universe.' Such an extraordinary meter and I can never repeat it! It's not a matter of craftsmanship; it wrote itself. 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, and then I went to sleep.

It's like being possessed; like a psychic or a medium. The thing has to go down. It won't let you sleep, so you have to get up, make it into something, and then you're allowed to sleep. That's always in the middle of the bloody night when you're half awake or tired and your critical facilities are switched off.

—John Lennon, The Playboy Interviews, p.162-63, 1980

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.

—John Lennon, quoted in Lennon: The Definitive Biography, Ray Coleman, 2000

'Across The Universe' is one of John's great songs. It had special words.

—Paul McCartney, Many Years From Now, 1997


World Wildlife version of 'Across the Universe (with Apple Scruffs Lizzie Bravo and Gaylene Pease)...

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