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The Beatles' 'Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds'

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It is a well known fact that the band, The Beatles often used and experimented with drugs. They were heavy marijuana smokers, since being introduced to the drug by Bob Dylan in 1964. Both John Lennon and George Harrison were arrested for possession of cannabis in 1968 and 1969 respectively, while Paul McCartney spent a few days in a Japanese prison in 1980 for possessing the drug.

One of the drugs they also used was LSD, a psychedelic drug very popular in the 1960s. Anyone who thinks they know anything about The Beatles will tell you that the song from the 1967 LP, Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, 'Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds' was about this drug. But is this really the case?

The Case For...

The main piece of evidence in favour of the drug theory is the initials of the song's title. Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds... LSD. Listen to the track, a Lennon/McCartney song, and it sounds like the band is on a high. The lyrics (Everyone smiles as you drift past the flowers/that grow so incredibly high among others) do not really help. Another reason is that it was known that The Beatles were into the hippy scene, heavily involving drugs, and the song, as the rest of the album, sounds psychedelically inspired, with its experimental sound and surreal lyrics. Many assumed it was about LSD because it was public knowledge that it was taken by the band, Paul McCartney having admitted to using it in the year of the release.

The Case Against...

The Beatles always denied these theories. They claimed it to be pure coincidence. This in itself is not conclusive evidence, but there is more to the comments. John Lennon, who wrote the larger part of the song, always said it was about a picture his son, Julian Lennon, painted while in kindergarten. When asked what the picture was of, Julian said it was Lucy, in the sky, with diamonds.

This can easily be called a lie; however, in the book A Hard Day's Write, the picture is published. Julian did know a Lucy, she was one of his friends he sat next to in kindergarten. In the picture, she is flying a plane or rocket in space, surrounded by diamonds. In the same book, Lucy is tracked down and interviewed; she remembers Julian, though not the picture specifically. This brings up the issue of whether it may be a fraud. The answer to this is that the picture was found when research was being done for the book, and not intended for release by The Beatles or Lennon.

And the psychedelic nature of the song? Well, that's the way everyone was doing things in 1967. It was on many different subjects, it seemed, it wasn't really a song about any one idea. John claimed the 'girl with kaleidoscope eyes' of the lyrics to be Yoko Ono (although they only officially became a couple in 1968, they had first met in 1966). Some believe the lines 'newspaper taxis appear on the shore/Waiting to take you away' to be a derogatory reference of John's to Paul McCartney, as he often lacked inspiration and looked into newspapers to come up with his ideas. John also said that some of the lyrics were from his favourite book, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. Many connections to the book and its sequel can be found to the book, especially the chapters from Through the Looking Glass, 'Wool And Water', where Alice is on a rowboat in a river (the lyrics: 'Picture yourself in a boat on a river') and 'Looking-Glass Insects' where Alice catches a train ('Picture yourself in a train on a station') and meets a rocking-horse fly ('Follow her down to a bridge by a fountain/Where rocking horse people eat marshmallow pies'). To add to that, the lyrics mention 'Plasticine porters with looking glass ties'. The song can also be seen as a reflection of the peace/love attitude of the hippies.

And why do the remaining Beatles continue to deny the drug references? After all, many songs on the Revolver album and tracks like 'Day Tripper' were openly admitted to be about drugs, why deny this one?

The Verdict

After considering both sides of the story, it seems that the song was not directly about LSD. However, as with most of the Beatles' work of the period, it may have been influenced by the drug, as that was part of the hippy scene. When looked at closely, the song really seems to be about nothing, or a child's picture or book. However, the truth may never really be known.

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