For Millennials. By Millennials.
Across The Universe is one of the greatest songs the Beatles ever produced. The music and lyrics give a cosmic experience to its listeners. But, there’s a story behind this song that involves the troubles of John Lennon’s life and feelings of sabotage. So, let’s dive deep into the inspiration for this song and what makes it so great.
What inspired Lennon to write it?
The inspiration behind Across The Universe is not one that you expect from a cosmic song. In fact, this song was inspired by John Lennon’s irritation towards his first wife, Cynthia. Back in the late 60s, one early morning quarrel with Cynthia inspired John to write this song. He had this to say:
I was lying next to my 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.
It’s hard to believe that John’s first failed marriage inspired a cosmic song like Across The Universe. But then again, it also gave us Hey Jude too. Therefore, let’s take a look at what makes this song by the Beatles so special? And the first thing that stands out is the lyrics.
The lyrics of Across The Universe are surreal
The most divine part of Across The Universe is the lyrics. The very first verse describes how he felt when Cynthia’s words kept running through her mind:
Words are flowing out
Like endless rain into a paper cup
They slither while they pass
They slip away across the universe
But soon after, the song goes on to describe a surreal cosmic experience. However, it still manages to sound gentle on the ears. There are moments in this song when my soul felt captivated. It perfectly describes the state of mind of a person that is riddled with his thoughts, beyond he can count:
Thoughts meander like a restless wind inside a letter box
They tumble blindly as they make their way across the universe
The song also describes the emotions of true love and how it engulfs you like a million suns:
Limitless, undying love
Which shines around me like a million suns
It calls me on and on across the universe
However, the most memorable part of the lyrics of Across the Universe is the mantra:
Jai Guru Deva, Om
When translated, it says for “Victory to God divine”. And John Lennon may have caught this mantra when the Beatles made their trip to India with the Maharishi.
The best song The Beatles ever wrote
From my own point of view, these are the most beautiful lyrics to any song I have ever heard. It made my heart feel emotions that I could never describe in words before. The music is gentle to the ears, with a calming chorus “Nothing’s gonna change my world”, which induces acceptance for life. But that was only possible through the gentle music that complements the lyrics. Therefore, I consider it to be the best song The Beatles ever made. And John Lennon agrees with me as well:
It’s one of the best lyrics I’ve written. In fact, it could be the best. 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.
But this song also has a very interesting honor that not many others can claim. NASA beamed this song across the universe, literally! Yes, this really happened and they did it back in 2008 on the 40th anniversary of the day the Beatles recorded the song. It’s amazing to think that this song is literally traveling ‘across the universe’. And Paul McCartney complemented NASA on it too, as he said:
Amazing! Well done, NASA! Send my love to the aliens. All the best, Paul.
This is the perfect tribute John Lennon could have asked for.