Beatles – Across The Universe

When I became a Beatles fan way back when I was 8 years old…and up to my teenage years I hardly ever heard this one mentioned by people. I’ve seen its popularity grow through the years. My biggest problem with it is they should have spent more time on it. Lennon accused McCartney of subconsciously trying to destroy it. You could see Paul let out a big yawn while rehearsing in the Let It Be film but that probably had more to do with him being tired after hours of playing in a studio…but maybe Lennon had a point.

One of the reasons John got upset with Paul was because instead of getting professional backup singers or a choir…Paul went out the Abbey Road door and grabbed two “Apple Scruffs” to sing backup on the song. That version did not go on the Let It Be album, however. That version was on a charity album.

This first appeared on No One’s Gonna Change Our World, a 1969 charity album for the World Wildlife Fund. Bird noises were dubbed into this version to create a nature theme. It didn’t sound too bad.

No One's Gonna Change Our World (1969, Vinyl) - Discogs

When I bought the Let It Be album it took a few listens but soon this one intrigued me. The lyrics alone are enthralling because of the imagery. Since I first heard it, the song has taken on huge popularity.

It even had a movie that was made around its title and worked around Beatle lyrics in 2007. That alone boosted its popularity.

I always wondered about the Jai guru deva om phrase. “Jai guru deva, om” translates to “hail to the Heavenly Teacher” or “I give thanks to Guru Dev.” That was a mantra was invented by the Indian guru, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi – the late protégé of Guru Dev.

On February 4, 2008 “Across The Universe” became the first track to be beamed directly into space. It was transmitted through NASA’s antenna in the DSN’s Madrid Deep Space Communication Complex, towards the North Star, Polaris, 431 light-years from Earth. The broadcasting of the Beatles song was done to mark both NASA’s 50th birthday and the 40th anniversary of Across The Universe. Paul McCartney described the transmission as an “amazing feat” adding, “Well done, NASA. Send my love to the aliens!”

David Bowie also did a good version of this song. Liam Gallagher has cited this song as a huge influence on him starting to write songs.

John Lennon: “I was lying next to me first wife in bed, 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 sort of a cosmic song rather than an irritated song… it drove me out of bed. I didn’t want to write it, but I was slightly irritable and I went downstairs and I couldn’t get to sleep until I’d put it on paper.”

John Lennon: “It’s one of the best lyrics I’ve written. In fact, it could be the best.” He added: “It’s good poetry, or whatever you call it, without chewin’ it. See, the ones I like are the ones that stand as words, without melody. They don’t have to have any melody, like a poem, you can read them.”

John Lennon: “The Beatles didn’t make a good record of it. I think subconsciously sometimes we – I say ‘we’ although I think Paul did it more than the rest of us – Paul would, sort of subconsciously, try and destroy a great song… meaning we’d play experimental games with my great pieces, like ‘Strawberry Fields,’ which I always thought was badly recorded.”

The World Wildlife Fund

Across The Universe

Words are flowing out
Like endless rain into a paper cup
They slither wildly as they slip away across the universe
Pools of sorrow waves of joy
Are drifting through my opened mind
Possessing and caressing me

Jai Guru Deva, Om
Nothing’s gonna change my world
Nothing’s gonna change my world
Nothing’s gonna change my world
Nothing’s gonna change my world

Images of broken light
Which dance before me like a million eyes
They call me on and on across the universe
Thoughts meander like a
Restless wind inside a letter box
They tumble blindly as they make their way across the universe

Jai Guru Deva, Om
Nothing’s gonna change my world
Nothing’s gonna change my world
Nothing’s gonna change my world
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

Jai Guru Deva, Om
Nothing’s gonna change my world
Nothing’s gonna change my world
Nothing’s gonna change my world
Nothing’s gonna change my world

Jai Guru Deva
Jai Guru Deva
Jai Guru Deva
Jai Guru Deva
Jai Guru Deva

Author: Badfinger (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

42 thoughts on “Beatles – Across The Universe”

  1. I had forgotten about this song. Lennon was right; the lyrics are great!
    I think my kids would like this one. I’ll show it to them when they get home from school.
    By the way I was just writing about you Max. I just finished a second article on Don Williams due to come out next week where I mentioned your interactions with Don. It’s really neat. Cheers.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Matt! He was such a nice and good man. I’m happy that he is remembered. He was a great talent.
      They might like Across the Universe…the words do flow well together.
      I’ll be posting a bluegrass/Appalachian folk song this week.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. After researching Don a bit, I’m staggered by what he accomplished and how varsely he influenced other big names and even appearing in movies with Burt Reynolds.

        Yes, I hope they like the Beatles song. I really like how John sings this. I look forward to reading your post about the folk song you mentioned.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. He influnced people across the board. When Don and Eric Clapton worked together that got him to a new audience.

        It will be tomorrow… funny how we run across songs Matt. I was reading a book on an American Football coach in the 70s and he woudl sing this song sometimes.

        Like

      3. Yeh, I also mentioned how you said Clapton and him were buddies. Williams was really popular in a great array of countries Inc Australia and NZ. Interesting considering it’s low-down – mellow country roots stuff. I think his silky voice won people over.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. That is so cool that his popularity reached out there. We think of country stars as mostly regional…especially back then with no internet.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. When you get 10 minutes read his wiki page. I’m still wondering how my father bought records of him. I wish I knew the back-story. I’ll ask Mum when I talk to her next.
        I’ll tell you. – what’s cool! How you had met him!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Great song! Somehow I always seem to forget it came out so late, it seemed like a middle-era song to me. Never knew what the foreign phrase was or what it meant, so thanks for letting us know!
    I think you’re right, it could be that this one and ‘In My Life’ are two of their songs that have really risen in public esteem (and up ‘best of ‘ type charts) in recent years.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It certainly wasn’t a high priority song for a long time and then boom…it seemed everyone knows it now. It didn’t help that it was on Let It Be but I’m glad it’s getting attention.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. the movie helped that along I’m sure. That’s a film I wouldn’t mind re-seeing… saw it as soon as it came out on DVD and liked it but I don’t remember a whole lot of it now.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I was telling Paula…I don’t like musicals very much at all but I did like this one.

        Like

  3. Wonderful background info on the song. Didn’t realize it was the first space tune. The lyrics absolutely are poetry. I do love the original but I also love the David Bowie version.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. That is my favorite version of the album to tell you the truth.
        I can see why John would have been a little upset…if John would have brought in someone from the street to sing backup on Penny Lane….Paul would not have liked it.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Great song to feature today! I only heard this a few times when I was young, and savored it each time. I didn’t know the song name or album, so didn’t know how to buy it. I thought it was a really special song. The line ‘nothing’s gonna change my world’ spoke to me as a kid. When I was an adult, I found it and acquired my own copy. It’s been on my personal playlist ever since. When Youtube came on the scene, I discovered the Moody Blues’ live cover performed at a Lennon tribute concert, and that is a treat for me also.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I just looked it up the Moodies version…that was wonderful with the orchestra with them also. That was also cool what Justin Hayward said of John.
      I can see why you didn’t hear it much as a kid…it was kinda buried on Let It Be

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I agree the orchestra helped make it special. And Justin and John honored the song by performing it straight. They didn’t indulge in any flourishes that took away from the song, if that makes sense.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. No argument over your great pick, Max. In fact “Across the Universe” has been one of my favorite Beatles tunes written by Lennon for many years. I just find the melody really beautiful and also love John’s singing on this.

    While I had known the alternate version with the birds, I had no idea Paul had just grabbed two random people to sing backup. That certainly was pretty disrespectful!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I’ve never heard this but, it was nice to enjoy the analog track of the first video. I so miss music moving back & forth thru headphones and/or speakers. The opening animal sounds swirled thru my head. You don’t get that, anymore, with digital. Digital has no soul. There. I said it.

    Liked by 1 person

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