The Beatles: John Lennon on how an iconic Let It Be track ‘possessed’ him

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Fans of The Beatles will of course know the iconic song Across the Universe from their 12th and final album Let It Be. Although the album itself was steeped in controversy, as its writing and recording process was filmed and was apparently was largely responsible for the Fab Four splitting up, Across the Universe was one of its standout tracks. It was one of John Lennon’s finest songs, and took the better part of three years to see the light of day – a process which Lennon explained “possessed” him.

Across the Universe was originally written in 1967 when Lennon was still married to his first wife, Cynthia Powell.

Speaking to David Sheff in 1980, Lennon explained how he couldn’t help but get out of bed and go write the song.

On the song, he explained: “I was a bit more artsy-fartsy there. I was lying next to my first wife in bed, you know, and I was irritated.

“She must have been going on and on about something and she’d gone to sleep. I kept hearing these words over and over, flowing like an endless stream.”

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Lennon continued: “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?.

“And I’ve sat down and looked at it and said ‘Can I write another one with this meter?’ It’s so interesting.”

The Imagine singer then recited the words to the song, and praised how memorable they were, saying: “‘Words are flowing out like endless rain into a paper cup / They slither while the pass, they slip away across the universe.’ Such an extraordinary meter and I can never repeat it!”

He then blamed the song’s creation not on himself, but on the song, explaining how it wrote itself.

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Lennon revealed: “It’s not a matter of craftsmanship – it wrote itself. It drove me out of bed. I didn’t want to write it… and I couldn’t get to sleep until I put it on paper.

“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.”

Across the Universe was one of the standout songs in Let It Be, and even became the tentpole track for a film based on the band’s work.

In the same vein of Abba’s work being made into the Mamma Mia! story, the 2007 movie Across the Universe adapted the music of the band into a unique musical.

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The Beatles have never stopped producing music, and recently Paul McCartney spoke up about who he wishes he could have worked with.

The star held a Reddit Ask Me Anything (AMA) in which he was quizzed about who he would like to collaborate with.

To which, he said: “I’ve always had a sneaky feeling to collaborate with Bob Dylan, but it’s never happened. It’s intriguing, but…”

McCartney was then asked which musician he would like to work with from history.

McCartney responded: “There’s an awful lot of them. John Lennon, he’s pretty good. And then there’s George. And Ringo.”

He then added: “And then there’s Elvis. And Chuck Berry… It’s impossible to choose, the list goes on and on!”

This answer comes as no surprise, as each of The Beatles have previously stated how Elvis influenced them greatly when they were growing up.


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