Ever since becoming the biggest band in the world, every inch of The Beatles has been analysed and scrutinised to find out a wider meaning. This is especially true when it comes to their songwriting, with the hidden themes and ideas of John and Paul’s lyrics poured over by fans across the world.
Below we break down the meaning of some of their most famous songs, giving you an insight into some of the most famous songs ever written by The Beatles.
Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds
Although credited to the Lennon-McCartney songwriting partnership, John was mostly responsible for penning the lyrics to this song off Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Almost everyone believes it was an acid-inspired song, but John insists he had no idea it could be abbreviated to spell LSD. He said a drawing by his then 3-year-old son, Julian, of a classmate called Lucy O’Donnell flying through the sky is what actually drove him to write the song. Julian literally said the drawing was of “Lucy flying in the sky with diamonds” – even Ringo and Paul have said the song comes from Julian’s artwork and not from taking drugs!
Penny Lane first appeared as a double A-side single with Strawberry Fields Forever in February 1967, originally intending for it to appear on the Sgt. Pepper album. The history behind the song is relatively simple, referring to a depot that John used to regularly visit when changing buses on his way to John’s or other peoples houses. It was a well known bus terminal in the area and Paul also sang in the choir at St Barnabas Church on the opposite side of the street.
One of The Beatles’ most famous songs and considered by many to be one of the greatest of all time, Hey Jude was released as a single in August 1968 and remains a crowd favourite at any Paul McCartney concert. It came about just shortly after John separated from his first wife, Cynthia (Julian’s mother). Paul says it was a song written for little Julian to comfort him about the break-up of his parents. He started to sing the words “Hey Jules” (later changed to Jude) and the rest of the words followed. John believed it was in reference to him and the start of his relationship with Yoko Ono, encouraging him to go and find happiness – and that it was fine to end Paul and John’s partnership.
Here Comes the Sun
Written by George Harrison, Here Comes the Sun is taken from 1969 album, Abbey Road. It was written at the country home of his friend Eric Clapton, when he was trying to escape the business stress that came with running their music label, Apple. Harrison said it was a relief to get away from having to sign legal documents and deal with straight-laced accountants, and walking round Clapton’s garden with a guitar in hand he came up with the song.
Back in the U.S.S.R.
The 1968 double album simply called, The Beatles, features Back in the U.S.S.R. as the opener, performed in an old school rock n’ roll style, parodying Chuck Berry’s classic Back in the U.S.A and the Beach Boys’ California Girls. To give it further context, this was a time when the Cold War between America and Russia was at its peak. Paul wrote the lyrics and imagined it to be a traveling Russian who has just arrived at Miami. It’s a tongue-in-cheek song that has a lot of little jokes inserted into the lyrics, and Paul even tried to sing it in his “Jerry Lee Lewis voice” to get himself into the right mood to perform it.