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Glass Onion by The Beatles

Album: The White AlbumReleased: 1968
  • John Lennon used meaningless lyrics to confuse people who were reading too much into his songs. He got a kick out of people trying to analyze his lyrics.
  • A glass onion is a coffin with a see-through lid. Because of this, it became a big part of the "Paul is Dead" hoax. Another clue for those who believed the hoax: Lennon sang, "The Walrus is Paul." In many European countries, a walrus represents death. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Dominic - Greensboro, NC
  • Lennon mentioned other Beatles songs in the lyrics: "Strawberry Fields," "I am the Walrus," "Lady Madonna," "The Fool on the Hill," and "Fixing a Hole."
  • Lennon wanted to name one of the bands they signed to Apple Records "Glass Onion." They chose "Badfinger" instead.
  • One theory is that "Glass Onion" refers to Lennon's opinion of the yogic concept of the lotus with its layered petals (layers of consciousness to be stripped away, much like an onion, through meditation) as a bunch of transparent bull used by the Maharishi to manipulate and seduce. He's also saying the Maharishi's whole shtick stinks and is a crying shame. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    ELBUSH - Greensboro, NC
  • When Lennon sings about the "Cast Iron Shore," he's referring to what was an area of beach at Liverpool, that is now partly built over. This area of Liverpool is called Otterspool. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Murray - Liverpool, England, England
  • According to Mojo magazine, the Beatles recorded 34 takes of the song's basic rhythm track on Wednesday September 11, 1968, then returned the next day to overdub Lennon's vocal and again on Friday and the following Monday for further overdubs. On October 10th George Martin, after returning from holiday, added the string section.
  • Paul McCartney had the original idea for writing a song that had a poke at all those who read too much into the Beatles lyrics. McCartney came up with its structure and he and Lennon wrote it roughly 50-50.
  • Lennon explained to Rolling Stone in a 1971 interview why he said "The Walrus is Paul." Said Lennon: "'I Am The Walrus' was originally the B side of 'Hello Goodbye.' I was still in my love cloud with Yoko and I thought, well, I'll just say something nice to Paul: 'It's all right, you did a good job over these few years, holding us together.' He was trying to organize the group, and organize the music, and be an individual and all that, so I wanted to thank him. I said 'the Walrus is Paul' for that reason. I felt, 'Well, he can have it. I've got Yoko, and thank you, you can have the credit.'"
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Comments: 58

There's a book that says that John Lennon played the bass guitar on this song. Ian McDonnell's book.Rmatrix - Las Vegas
Alternate lyric: "Well here's a clue you bloody dingo, the walrus was Ringo!"Jedijones - East Pa, Pa
"looking through a glass onion" is 'scrying', holding a chrystal ball up to the sun or moon, divination as in "i'm s-crying" [i am the walrus] & the second verse of the song is written about someone paul didn't see while walking his dog. "i told you 'bout the fool on the hill" in 1967, a former catholic choirboy from rockford, ill. he was" well on his way" to a career in something. "his head in a cloud" [a reference to kirlian photography] "the man of 1000 voices talking perfectly loud" on the stage of his high school theater, a double major. "I tell you man he's living there still." in 1968 i was indeed still in campbell, a few months away from learning about a dovetail joint & meeting Beatle sideman Robben Ford.Jeffrey Boe - Campbell, Ca
yo' mama so stupid, she really thinks paul is deadAdam - Perry, Ny
This is a hard rocker.The beat,the drums,the guitar work,it has a rough sound to it.John on many occasions wrote lyrics that had hidden meaning or some kind of message.In this song it's like he's doing a recap of some of the Beatles songs,making mention of them throughout the song.Another winner from the White Album.This song rocks.George - Belleville, Nj
It means whatever you want it to mean.Stacy - New York City, Il
I'm new and apparently late to the party but this thread caught my eye. This song still seems to be living up to it's reputation as having people thinking in circles. A "Glass Onion" is British slang for a Monocle. Mostly used as a corrective lens for one eye, they're used as magnifying devices to look for flaws and imperfections (like a jeweler). Also, if "The Walrus was Paul" is referring to the album cover, it's false. The Walrus is John, the hippo is Paul, the rabbit is George and the Chicken is Ringo. The movie characters are the same. The Walrus is playing the piano and the Hippo is out front playing a left handed bass. Also, on the album cover, the Hippo is the only one of the three wearing a watch on their right hand. The rabbit and chicken both have theirs on there left. You can't see the Walrus'. If you're a right handed person, on which wrist do you wear your watch?Randy - Kannapolis, Nc
Great song.The white album is amazingBrian - Boston, Ma
its a beatles song about beatles songs!Rickylsd - Santa Ana, Ca
i applaud you, john, wherever you are! i love the sarcasm- "heres another clue for you all". its hilarious how he put in cryptic little messages just to drive fans crazy.Chloe - St. Louis, Mo
Haha, I understand that it's been said that the "Glass Onion" is a television set, but when I read about how Lennon was using the lyrics to confuse people who analyzed his songs, it makes me think of the glass onion as the songs themselves- all the layers being peeled back are people trying to analyze it, but what you see is what you get.

And I am one of those over-analytical people. :P
Discordamongharmony - The Confinements Of My Mind, In
This is one of my favorite songs from the White Album. The tune is pretty cool, and the lyrics are hilarious! You see, it doesn't mean anything! It's just John Lennon taking a bunch of lyrics from his previous songs, mish-mashing them together and producing another kind of "I Am the Walrus". You see, he got tired of people analyzing his songs, saying they were about drugs or whatever, when sometimes they weren't, and so he wrote songs like these and put in all sorts of stuff to confuse people! I think it's hilarious.Pippin - Rhye, Ca
Amen Simon from Chatanooga!!! Couldn't agree with you more. The Beatles are a great band and not some stoner hippies who were high 24/7. But I admit this song is sorta weird. I had a nightmare about it. I still like it though.Kathryn Lewallen - Mars, Pa
Seeing "How The Other Side Lives" (in the lyrics) was a book by Jacob Riis, a photographer in the late 1800s who took pictures of poor people to raise awareness. just doing my history and noticed and thought I should mention that.Amelia - Chaple Hill, Nc
The line in this song "Paul was the Walrus" was thrown in becuase Lennon was feeling guilty for leaving him the way he was. Also this song is just somewhat of a throw together of everything John had ever written.Trisha - New Smyrna Beach, Fl
Who cares who the walrus is? For all we know, the walrus could be George W. Bush!Peter Griffin - Quahog, Ri
The brilliance of John Lennon is truly incredible! Look at how he got you all squabbling over a song that he wrote over thirty years ago! Although, being a big Beatles fan, it is wonderful that there are many of you who stick up for them, when every one else calls them "dumb" or "drugged hippies." Many people just buy the tshirts from Target to impress their girlfriends...making them think they're classy or whatever. But John Lennon sang from the heart, as did all of the Beatles. I bet that wherever he is, in Nirvana or not, he is enjoying this whole scene. Thanks Mr. Lennon, Harrison, Mcartney and Starkey!Simon - Chattanooga , Tn
In her autobiography, "Wonderful Tonight: George Harrison, Eric Clapton, and Me," Pattie Boyd writes that they used to enjoy a restaurant in London in which the chef would do creative thing with flowers on your plate, including bending tulip petals backward. Hence, John's line, "Looking through the bent back tulips.Guy - Woodinville, Wa
What's even MORE hilarious to me, is how people keep presenting their explanation like it's the ONLY way the song can be interpreted. Lots of people haver presented lots of different, interesting, and probably "somewhat right" interpretations. You can write a song and have it reference all sorts of things in you life. One word, or phrase, etc. can mean lots of things. I suspect the true answer lies somewhere in the middle, or among, all of the answers people have presented.Shane - Des Moines, Ia
Another brillant song Mr. Lennon. It ws just like the song I Am The Walrus. It's purpose is to confuse people into thinking something else and eventually becaming so confused they stop analyzing their songs. Which is what he did with the one simple line "The walrus was Paul". He was a very brillant man don't u think. I don't get why it matters who is the Walrus ? Does it really matetr who was the walrus? Does a walrus have some kind of death meaning ?Krissy - Boston, Ma
hahahahaha - all very interesting ideas my largely transatlantic cousins, but great as the song is most of the lyrics are no big mystery if u are actually from liverpool - its another nostalgic pre-beatle song about john and paul (walrus and me-man) in liverpool going down to the river mersey (a place where everything flows) from allerton where they lived through the suburbs (strawberry fields and bent back tulips) to the dingle where ringo lived (cast iron shore - known to scousers as the cazzy) again they mention the characters they pass just as in Penny Lane they were prob based on real locals... they are also prob drinkin beer along the way or at the riverside and thinkin bout song ideas (dove-tail) or maybe it is a play on words reference to dovedale school. The end is the only crypitic part of the song i can see perhaps the whole in the ocean is the divide created between the USA and the beatles by the infamous 'Jesus' incident - that would explain hitting the bottle and thinkin of happier times... but as i say the rest is really obvious with some good local knowledge of liverpool :)Paulo - Liverpool, England
Over analysing is exactly what John was writing about here. The title "Glass Onion" in itself is a big hint. The layers of a song that people try to draw meanings from can be compared to the many layers of an onion. Although this onion has no layers as it is made from glass, suggesting we needn't draw out meanings and over analyse things which simply aren't there or visible.Stuart - Bristol, England
IT WAS A JOKE!!!!! WHY CAN'T SOME OF YOU SEE THAT?!?!? john lennon is in heaven (or where ever) laughing at us.Kim - Houston, Tx
Oh my God no wonder America is in the state it is in. This song was deliberately written by Lennon to confuse the pants off people who kept interpreting his lyrics the wrong way like most of America. If you read any books on the Beatles then this will be confirmed. Lennon was well known for going for a sound rather than lyrics for most of his career. Read "in His Own Write" or "A Spaniard In The Works" to see how much he played around with the English language, and stop reading things into things that are not there. And Paul is definitely not physically dead although songwriting wise he died years ago.Tommy - Glasgow Scotland, United States
I agree with the bloke going bezerk, his lyrics are far too good for anyone to analyze, afterall acid apparently changes your life and the way you think, so even though his songs might not be wrote on or about acid, lennons lyrics definitely would not of been the same if he hadnt flown a couple of times. much love, the ultimate beatles fan.Martin - Newcastle, England
"The walrus is Paul" is a refrence to the "Magical Mystery Tour" album cover were Paul McCartney is dressed as a walrusMatt - Leicester, England
nathan, i have two word for you : YOURE WRONG!!!
now i got that out, i have another thing to say: NOT ALL BEATLES SONGS ARE ABOUT DRUGS AND ALCHOHOL!! my god, people, will you not understand that?!?!? its just a great song, and its about lennon being sick of people anylizing his songs, and thats exactly what you're doing here!! in respect for his spirit, i will not try to analize this song, even though i could, and you should all do the same. do you have no respect for the dead?!?!
Izzy - Buffalo, Ny
I hear a lot that the glass onion refers to a casket, but glass onions were also large hand blown glass bottles used aboard sailing ships to hold wine or brandy. They were round and if you tried to look through one (like a telescope), everything would look distorted. John was saying that people were viewing his songs through a distorted perception because they wanted to extract a religious meaning from every song. Most Beatle songs are actually far less mysterious than people suppose and John was sick of people over compicating them.Burt - Nonya, Wa
In the end of the song you can hear "It's a goal!" and noise of a crowd.Or - Holon, Israel
This is an amazing song, though a little different, it's still AWESOME!! Paul IS the Walrus!Michelle - Antigonish, Canada
After listening to the version of "Glass Onion" on the Anthology CD, the line "looking through the bent back tulips" sounds more like "looking through the bent back two lips" which seems to be more of a sexual reference...perhaps another of John's double meanings.Steve - Fenton, Mo
How is an onion like a lotus? What do all the old Beatle tunes referneces have to do with the Maharishi anyway? This song obviously has something to do with alcohol, or mind altering substances. He's saying drugs and booze is like another world where you can exiperiment and forget about your problems, just as the Beatles did while writing all the songs listed in glass onion.Nathan - Defiance, Oh
Ok,Glass Onion refers to John's opinion of the Maharishi and the yogic concept of the lotus representing a layered consciousness stripped away through meditation. An onion is much like a lotus. John is saying the Maharishi and yogic meditation...are bull, and that the Maharishi's motives were transparent, stank, and a crying shame. Think about it. ELBush, Greensboro, NCElbush - Greensboro, Nc
I'm telling you people, the song has something to do with alcohol. John drank a lot in the early days, and this song mentions their early songs. Coincidence? A glass onion is used to hold liquor that is indisputable. A glass onion is not a television, or coffin, or watever! If you don't trust me follow this link: http://www.cosbert.com/bottles/CosbertCollectionDisposal2_files/image174.jpgNathan - Defiance, Oh
I agree with Kalissa. Good one John!Carissa - La Mirada, Ca
Guys don't interpret this one too much. John wrote it to show how much people were over-analyzing his songs. Listen to the lyrics for clues. I know this website is specifically for analyzing songs, but this one doesn't have any particular meaning.Stefanie Magura - Rock Hill, Sc
I think this is another John Lennon joke...
and look, he obviously got all of you who try to look into it WAY too much!
One thing is for sure Paul is definitely NOT dead.
Kalissa - New York City, Ny
I could hear it. It is faint, though.Arthur - Sydney, Australia
If you go to http://www.stevesbeatles.com/ and look under 'Glass Onion', you will find that after they sing 'I told you 'bout Strawberry Fields' someone screams 'Forever'.I couldn't hear this, so you can go to this site and 'Think for yourself 'cause I won't be there with you'. HAHA!! (Sorry, that song is not on 'Glass Onion')Jordan - Wimette, Il
John says that he and the walrus are as close as can be, and then he says the walrus was Paul. That means that, despite all the tension in the group, John and Paul were still good friends.Peter - Hally, Canada
Are you being sarcastic Richard? Either way, interesting opinion. Either you are pointing out how foolish we are by reading into this crazy song, or you are quite fond of Paul. Whatever, I'm tired.Jon - Danville, Ca
Oh dear. You've all got it wrong. The initials of Glass Onion spell "GO". John is asking Paul to leave the band, having realised that Paul is the superior songwriter.Richard - Newport, Isle Of Wight, England
Maybe John was commenting about his problems with alcoholism. A 'Glass Onion' is in fact a wide bottomed glass used for holding whiskey often used at sea. It's wide bottom prevents it form tipping over easily, and slightly resembles an onion.Nathan - Defiance, Oh
The term "dovetail joint" is often used by songwriters as the point where two independently written song parts are combined to make one complete song - something John and Paul did constantly.Ken - Louisville, Ky
More great rhythm guitar from the White Album.Nessie - Sapporo, Japan
In the song God by John Lennon, He saids " I was the walrus but now I'm John"Harry - Seaville, Nj
From what I know, the line "the walrus was Paul" refers to the cover of Magical Mystery Tour record where the Beatles are dressed up in costumes, and the walrus was Paul.Samuel - Perth, Australia
I don't think the "walrus" symbolizes death anywhere - not in Europe, not on Mars - nowhere. I'm certain that's bull. John wrote this song, just like "I Am The Walrus," as a decoy for everyone overanalyzing The Beatles' lyrics (i. e. "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds" = LSD), so naturally he would reference his previous experiment in nonsense. My guess is John already had the line "well here's another clue for you all" set, and, like a magician pretending to reveal his secret, "revealed" the true identity of the walrus. Of course "Paul" was the best rhyme, so he went with that. Anyway, he couldn't say, "Well, here's another clue for you all/The walrus was George," could he?Elliott - Douglassville, Pa
i thought the meaning was like an onion has many layers, like the beatles and their vast range of musical abilities and styles, which is very evident on the white album, and the glass is like how they're in the public eye, they're lives may be covered, but they're covered with glass, the world sees what they do and tries to get into the different layers to get different meanings and stuff, but then, i'm kinda doin' the same myself right now... :)Natasha - Chico, Ca
The mere fact that the Death Hoax wasn't sprung untill 1969, proves that despite the Beatles denial of any "clues" in their songs, something was going on."Here's another clue for you all..........The Walrus was Paul"This song was released in 1968!Roger - Harmony, Pa
mike, i think a lot of people notice it. its kind of obviousEllen - Nashville, Tn
Just creative lyrics, no body likes to notice it, but John was an artist! ;)Mike - Jackson, Nj
Is it wierd that we know John wrote this just to confuse people but yet you guys still try and sit here and figure out what it means... but yeah great song.Bob - Las Vegas, Nv
Coooool song!Sarah - Santa Rosa, Ca
A great Lennon song that predicts what he will write during his solo career, at least the bitter portion of it.Tyson - Ruidoso, Nm
The cross reference with I Am The Walrus also appears on John's Plastic Ono Band album. On God he claims quote "I was the Walrus but now I'm John". Maybe just to confuse things a little more.Joel - Christchurch
Correction. The "Glass Onion" is a metaphor for a television set. Read the lyrics it will make sense.Patrick - Durham, Nc
This song was linked to the "Paul is Dead" rumors. The line "The Walrus was Paul" was seen that it indicated Paul was dead. In some religions, the walrus symbolizes death. The term "Glass Onion" is a crude reference to a casket.Patrick - Conyers, Ga
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