The Beatles FAQ

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Saturday, 12 September 2015

What was the inspiration for Across the Universe?

 'Words are pouring out like endless rain into a paper cup'
In 1970 John Lennon gave a series of confessional interviews to Rolling Stone Magazine. Rather ungallantly, he revealed the source of the opening line of Across the Universe as a scolding from his then wife Cynthia in 1967. 
I was lying next to my first wife in bed ... and I was irritated. and I was thinking. 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 a "Why are you always mouthing off at me?"... [The words] were purely inspirational and were given to me as boom! 
The tune also appears to arrived in an unusual way.  Hunter Davies recalls that he was walking (in silence) with John around the garden of his Weybridge mansion. 

Suddenly they heard the sound of a siren from passing police car - and John began humming a version that formed the melody under 'Jai Guru Deva OM."

Differing opinions on Across the Universe

  • 'It's one of the best lyrics I've written. In fact, it could be the best.' John Lennon, Rolling Stone 1971
  • '...plaintively babyish incantation ... boring...' Ian Macdonald The Revolution in the Head
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