Monday, February 04, 2013

Nothing's Gonna Change My World

"Sounds of laughter, shades of life
Are ringing through my opened ears
Inciting and inviting me.
Limitless undying love, which
Shines around me like a million suns,
It calls me on and on across the universe."


On this day in 1968, the Beatles recorded "Across the Universe."

Eventually, it appeared on "Let It Be," the last album the group released.

I suppose no one had ever dominated popular music the way the Beatles did in those days. Less than a year earlier, they had released "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band," which was widely praised and seen as a cultural game changer.

Only a few months earlier, they had wrapped up the recording sessions for the "White Album," so named for its white cover. That was the double album that was later revealed to have influenced Charles Manson and his murderous followers some 18 months later.

That album, I suppose, was in pre–production in February 1968. They were working on tracks for their final albums, but my guess is that their thoughts were on other things.

The Beatles, as accustomed to commercial success as they were bound to have become by that time, probably were more interested in Transcendental Meditation and its developer, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.

There was clearly a spiritual element to the Beatles' songs during this period. It was mostly associated with George Harrison, but "Across the Universe" was actually composed by John Lennon and was credited, as had been the practice since the 1950s, to Lennon–McCartney.

Paul McCartney had little, if anything, to do with the writing of either the music or the lyrics of "Across the Universe." It was Lennon's composition, and, in an interview with Rolling Stone in 1970, he called it "one of the best lyrics I've written."

That is certainly saying something when you think of the songs he had written — and had yet to write — when he spoke to Rolling Stone.

I don't know if I think it is the best song Lennon ever wrote — but it was definitely one of his best.

In that interview, Lennon also said he preferred his songs "that stand as words, without melody. They don't have to have any melody, like a poem, you can read them."

You could certainly read the words to "Across the Universe," but it probably helped if you brought a certain amount of spirituality to the recitation as well.