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Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds

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"Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds"
Song by The Beatles
Album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
Released 1 June 1967
Recorded 1 March 1967
Genre Psychedelic Rock
Length 3:28
Label Apple Records
Writer Lennon/McCartney
Producer George Martin
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band track listing
Julian's Lucy drawing
I don't know why I called it that or why it stood out from all my other drawings, but I obviously had an affection for Lucy at that age. I used to show dad everything I'd built or painted at school, and this one sparked off the idea for a song about 'Lucy in the sky with diamonds'.

—Julian Lennon

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. It was just a simple child-like drawing of a little girl in the sky with stars, and the little girl was Lucy, a girl from his school.

—Cynthia Lennon, 1967

John got [it] from his son! Julian brought home a painting he’d done at school and his father asked him what it was supposed to be. “It’s Lucy in the sky with diamonds,” explained Julian.’

—Mal Evans

Nobody believes me. This is the truth. My son came home and showed me this drawing of a strange looking woman flying around, and I said, 'What is it?' And he said it was Lucy in the sky with diamonds. I said, 'Oh, that's beautiful,' and I immediately wrote a song about it.

—John Lennon, 1967

After the album had come out and the album had been published, someone noticed that the letters spelt out LSD and I had no idea about it, and, of course, after that, I went to see what the other songs spelt out. They didn't spell anything out. It wasn't about that (LSD), at all. But nobody believes me.

—John Lennon, 1971

The idea that 'Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds' stands for LSD is rubbish. John wasn't like that and people credit him with too much subtlety. He liked to shock people, and if he'd really wanted to write about drugs he would have done it straight out. You'd never have been in any doubt as to what he was singing about.

—George Martin, 19__

When we were talking about ‘cellophane flowers’ and ‘kaleidoscope eyes’ and ‘grow so incredibly high,' we were talking about drug experiences, no doubt about it.

—Paul McCartney, 1998

The vocals on 'Lucy' weren't recorded at normal speed. The first track was recorded at a frequency of 45 cycles, our normal frequency being 50 cycles. In other words, we slowed the tape down, so that when we played it back the voice sounded ten percent higher: back in the correct key, but thinner-sounding, which suited the song. It gave a slight Mickey Mouse quality to the vocals. In fact, Paul was also singing on two tracks, lending John a spot of harmony.

—George Martin, 1994

For the introduction to the vocal we used a Lowry organ. The bell-like sound we got from it on 'Lucy' would have been extremely difficult to extract from a Hammond. [...] The beginning of 'Lucy,' that hesitant, lilting introductory phrase, is crucial to the staying power of the song. [...] Curiously, this introductory fragment was not formally composed; it evolved from the chords that John originated for the song, and in a similar way to 'Strawberry Fields Forever,' Paul improvised in his favourite arpeggio style until the magic phrase arrived.

—George Martin, 1994

I was actually with John when Julian came in with this a crazy little painting, and John said, ‘Oh, what’s that?’ and Julian said, ‘It’s Lucy in the sky with diamonds.’ And then John got busy.

—Ringo Starr, 2000

We did the whole thing like an Alice in Wonderland idea, being in a boat on the river, slowly drifting down stream and those great cellophane flowers towering over your head.

—Paul McCartney, 1967

I happened to be there the day Julian came home from school with a pastel drawing of his classmate Lucy's face against a backdrop of exploding, multi-coloured stars. Unusually impressed with his son's handiwork, John asked what the drawing was called. 'It's Lucy in the sky with diamonds, Daddy,' Julian replied. 'Fantastic,' John said, and promptly incorporated that memorable phrase into a new song.

—Pete Shotton, 1967

My son Julian came in one day with a picture he painted about a school friend of his named Lucy. He had sketched in some stars in the sky and called it 'Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,' Simple. The images were from 'Alice in Wonderland.' It was Alice in the boat. 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. 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.' It was purely unconscious that it came out to be LSD. Until somebody pointed it out, I never even thought it, I mean, who would ever bother to look at initials of a title? It's NOT an acid song. The imagery was Alice in the boat and also the image of this female who would come and save me-- this secret love that was going to come one day. So it turned out to be Yoko... and I hadn't met Yoko then. But she was my imaginary girl that we all have.

—John Lennon, 1980

I went up to John's house in Weybridge. When I arrived we were having a cup of tea, and he said, 'Look at this great drawing Julian's done. Look at the title!' He showed me a drawing on school paper, a five-by-seven-inch piece of paper, of a little girl with lots of stars, and right across the top there was written, in very neat child handwriting, I think in pencil, ‘Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds’. So I said, 'What's that mean?' thinking Wow, fantastic title! John said, 'It's Lucy, a friend of his from school. And she's in the sky.' we went upstairs and started writing it. People later thought 'Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds'" was LSD. I swear — we didn't notice that when it first came out.

—Paul McCartney, 1994

Paul and John explain to [Martin] that they have spent this day writing a song which they want to record tonight. 'All right, let's hear it,' he says. Paul pounds out a strong assortment of chords and John sings, falsetto, the melody which is to be called 'Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds' [my italics]. They go through it half a dozen times while Martin nods, quickly familiarizing himself with the composition and making notes. At this embryonic stage the song sounds like the early Beatles works ... but before they are done with it ... it will undergo extraordinary changes. 'Picture yourself in a boat on a river, with tangerine trees and marmalade skies,' sings John over and over again, while George Harrison begins finding a guitar accompaniment and Ringo ... slaps out a rhythm ... It begins absolutely from scratch ... It is now almost midnight in the recording studio and after four hours of assault, 'Lucy in the Sky...' still sounds quite terrible. Fifth Beatle [!] Martin grimaces, 'We are light years away from anything tonight,' he shudders. 'They know it is awful now, and they're trying to straighten it out. It may be a week before they're pleased, if ever. They're always coming up with something new they've just learned, something I wouldn't dream of. They never cease to amaze me.' ... [But by] the bone-weary hour of 2 a.m., 'Lucy with the Diamond Eyes' is beginning to take shape.

—Thomas Thompson (who sat in on the Beatles' Feb 28, 1967 first "Lucy" rehearsal, for Life magazine), 1967

John told me that some of his lyrics had been inspired by Goon Show dialogue. On the programme, we used to talk about plasticine ties and it crept into 'Lucy' with 'Plasticine porters with looking glass ties.'

—Spike Milligan (The Goons), 1969


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