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Across The Universe

by

The Beatles



Songfacts®:  You can leave comments about the song at the bottom of the page.

John Lennon wrote this song after having an argument with his wife Cynthia. He said, "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."
The refrain "Jai Guru Deva Om" is a mantra intended to lull the mind into a higher consciousness. The words are in Sanskrit, and they mean "I give thanks to Guru Dev," who was the teacher of The Maharishi. The "Om" at the end is the drawn out "oooohm" used in meditation to relate to the natural vibration of the universe. While visiting the Maharishi in Rishikesh, John purchased a set of brass bracelets with the words "Jai Guru Dev" imprinted on them. The bracelets are now in the possession of Julian Lennon and were on display at the "White Feather-The Spirit Of John Lennon" exhibit at the Beatles Story in Liverpool.
This first appeared on No One's Gonna Change Our World, a charity album for the World Wildlife Fund (They're the ones who sued the World Wrestling Federation and made them stop using "WWF"). Bird noises were dubbed in to this version to create a nature theme.
This song is often cited as an example of tensions between Lennon and McCartney over treatment of each other's songs. When The Beatles went to record it in February of 1968, both Lennon and McCartney decided they wanted falsetto harmonies on the song. No matter what he did, John said he was sounding out of tune, so Paul went outside and grabbed two "Apple Scruffs" named Lizzie Bravo and Gaylene Pease to add the background harmonies. John is quoted again about that, saying, "the original track was a real piece of s--t. I was singing out of tune, and instead of getting a decent choir, we got fans from outside. They came in and were singing all off-key. Nobody was interested in doing the tune originally." In another interview, he said, "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 two young women Paul grabbed off the street to sing backup appear on the World Wildlife recording of the song, but not on the version on Let It Be.
For a while, this was not going to be part of Let It Be. The album was going to be called "Get Back" and was supposed to be recorded in front of a live audience for a TV special, with film footage of The Beatles practicing the songs in the studio used for a companion special. When things didn't go well, they decided to scrap the TV project but use the footage for their last movie, which became Let It Be. The tapes of them practicing in the studio would be worked into an album to go with the film. The first version of the album did not include this, but when the movie was edited, it included a scene where The Beatles play this, so it was added to the album.
While the Let It Be movie and album were being sorted out, The Beatles recorded their last album, Abbey Road, and then broke up. George Harrison and John Lennon asked Phil Spector to take the tapes from the Let It Be project and produce the album from them. Spector took out the bird sounds, slowed the tape down, and added an orchestra and choir. The result was a very lush arrangement using his "Wall Of Sound" technique.
This was later recorded by David Bowie with Lennon on guitar. It appears on Bowie's 1975 album Young Americans.
This was originally going to be the B-side to "Lady Madonna," but "The Inner Light" was chosen instead. (thanks, Adrian - Wilmington, DE)
Paul played piano on both recordings of this song. One version for the World Wildlife Fund (with the Apple Scruff harmonies) and the other for what became the Let It Be LP, with Phil Spector adding the choir, which John really loved.
In a 1971 interview with Rolling Stone, Lennon disclosed that this is one of his favorite Beatles records as, "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."
Fiona Apple covered this in 1999. Other notable artists to record the song include Cilla Black, Jackson Browne and Laibach. Rufus Wainwright also recorded it for the I Am Sam soundtrack.
At the 2001 John Lennon tribute special at Madison Square Garden, Sean Lennon performed this with Moby and Rufus Wainwright. Moby wore one of John's shirts that Sean gave him.
This was a huge influence on Liam Gallagher from Oasis. It turned him on to The Beatles and inspired him to write songs.
At the 2005 Grammy awards, Brian Wilson, Alicia Keys, Tim McGraw, Bono, Stevie Wonder, Norah Jones and members of Velvet Revolver played this as a tribute to tsunami victims in Asia. The single was sold to raise money for the victims, and peaked at #22 on the Billboard Hot 100, making it the first chart appearance for the song. It also held the record for a time of the fastest selling download on iTunes.
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 Fab Four 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!"
This song was the title for the 2007 movie, Across the Universe, who's plot line was centered around songs by the Beatles. Across the Universe stars Jim Stirges and Evan Rachel Wood. (thanks, Breanna - Henderson, NV)
The Beatles
The Beatles Artistfacts
More The Beatles songs
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More songs about peace or tranquility
More songs featuring orchestras
More songs produced by Phil Spector

Comments (174):

One of my favorite Beatles songs. I really wish more people listened to the classics , like this.
- Grayson, New Orleans, LA
I can't imagine Scott Weiland singing this song (I do like him as a rock vocalist though). I've never heard the naked version of this song, so I guess I can't make any judgement, but I love Phil Spector's Let It Be version of this song loads. I can't imagine it being better with just acoustic instruments, though, like I said before, I really can't say.
- Zero, Nowhere, NJ
Lennon´s "Across the Universe" is the best music since Wagner! A cosmic sound and feeling. But the first recording from February 1968 is better than the final. At first Lennon wanted it to be released as a single, but McCartney sabotaged it by letting two amateur teenagers sing the chorus falsely, and out of time.
- Johan, Stockholm, Sweden
Totally getting a tattoo of this on my foot:) Can't wait!
- Megan, Stevenson, AL
The Beatles are the best band that the world will ever see. End of story. I am only 15 but I grew up my whole life in love with the Beatles and Paul McCartney. All of the Beatles were amazing.
- Olivia, Philadelphia, PA
This is an amazing song! Gorgeous. Makes me want to cry everytime!
- Megan, Stevenson, AL
Wendy from the UK, Aretha Franklin did not write "Let It Be." Paul did. Yeesh. There should be a way of reporting factually inaccurate comments here if this site truly purports to be "songfacts.com".
- Danno, Seattle, WA
I think that this is one of John's best songs while he was with the Beatles.I have to agree with everyone who thinks that Phil SPector really killed this song.
- Sydney, Dallas, TX
You have to watch the Beatles Anthology, where George Martin talks about John and then, alone in the control room, plays the original tape of John singing Across the Universe. The camera stays on George's face and you can see the emotion in his eyes as he listens to John's voice and misses him.
- roberta, Washington, DC
I love the anthology version of this song
- andre, rio de janeiro, Brazil
This song greatly influences my life. Jai Guru Deva om.
- Grace, Malibu, CA
I didn't know this song was first released on a album compiled by Spike Milligan. That's awesome.
- Matthew, santa fe, NM
such a beautiful song
- rickyLSD, Santa Ana, CA
This song's great I really love the cover in Across the Universe that one's great. The one by John Lennon's a clasic though and can only be discribed as genious.
- Breanna, Henderson, NV
Awesome. Just awesome.
- Mr. Morozov, Fremont, NE
This is such a soothing song. I absolutely love the Let It Be naked version. Phil Spector ruined the Let It be album.
- Marty, Mount Vernon, IA
This song illustrates John Lennon's complete mastery of song writing. He had such an outstanding gift of choosing words, phrases and melody that fit together beautifully like a puzzle. I don't think we will ever see his kind again.
- tod, las vegas, NV
october 9th- happy birthday, John.
- chloe, St. Louis, MO
The 1st females to sing on a Beatle record were Maureen Starkey, Yoko and Patti Harrison, not the Apple Scruffs Girls! The song was on the White Album, title, Birthday!


Joe, Kingston, NH
- Joe, Kingston, NH
thanks so much :)
- Jenn, Cleveland, OH
Jenn, I would suggest the Songfacts forums - you'll find lots of Beatles lovers there :)
- Martin, Rostock, Germany
does anyone know where i can find a beatles blogging site where i can talk to other people about their love for them toooo?
- Jenn, Cleveland, OH
i absolutely love this song. this is the most beautiful song ive ever heard. im only 17 but i love the beatles dearly and i wish i could have been their to witness their power to amaze people with their music
- Jenn, Cleveland, OH
Across the universe has been my fav Beatles song since I was probably 12 or so in High School.. I was the only brown skinned kid in a 1,000 white kid school and this song was my friend..
The Beatles were the best, they still have no equal. No one even close. The soundtrack of my life.
- Ron, Sydney, Australia
hi guys... im from india..... the words mean victory to the guru(maharishi)..... anyway...gr8 song...jus can't stop loving the beatles...lol
- rahul, chennai, India
Fiona Apple did a great version of this song.
- Theresa, Murfreesboro, TN
This song is so great because it was truly written from the heart at a time when John must have been coming to terms with a lot of different emotions. It is a beautiful expression of not having answers to why he felt engaged in his relationship with Yoko and remorse for his loss with Cyndi...
- Linc, Beaumont, TX
A very big misconception is that people seem to think that in the very beginning of the song John is saying "goodnight, Richie" when in all actuality, he is saying "You're right, Richie." His accent just makes it a little bit harder to decipher.
- Dylan Sharp, El Segundo, CA
Actually, "Jai Guru Deva Om" backwards comes out as "Stig has been dead for ages, honestly!"
- Rich, Bellevue, WA
I bought a different verison, he talks in the beginning and plays...I dont know what version but it better then the W.W.F version.
- William, Pheonix, AZ
Lovely song.I read that the line Jai guru deva om comes from the Saskrit language. It means something like: Victory to God Devine.
- Faye, Tucson, AZ
MATT from CHICAGO, I completely agree. And I don't know if any of you guys saw the 2005 Grammy performance of this song. IT was Velvet Revolver and Alison Krauss (on violin) as the backing band. The singers were Steven Tyler, Stevie Wonder, Alicia Keys, Norah Jones, Brian Wilson, Tim McGraw, Scott Weiland, Billie Joe Armstrong, and Bono. The performance as a whole was dreadful. Velvet Revolver was great and so was their singer Scott Weiland. Steven Tyler was absolutely perfect, as always, and Alicia Keys was good. All in all though, it was a random group of people. Billie Joe Armstrong looks like a little girl next to Steven and Scott, and STevie Wonder's voice, IMO, is not suited to this style of song.
- cynthia, scranton, PA
i dont really care which version it is- the let it be one, the anthology one, whatever....as long as i can hear john's voice and his lyrics, i still want to cry when i hear it. its too gorgeous.
- chloe, st. louis, MO
song gives me shivers. i second that, marissa.

wow, the fact that is listed fourth at the top really kind of surprised me. paul, purposely try to screw up a song? was john being overly sensitive, or did their styles just not mesh?
- chloe, st. louis, MO
This is a great song to listen to while painting. Just throwing that out there. :)
- Marissa, Akron, OH
The best, hands down.
AAAND its by the beatles.
also hands down the best band to walk the earth.
RIP John and George..
- Grace, Brisbane, Australia
It's a fantastic track but would have been so much better had George Martin produced it.
- Matt, NY, NY
Say, Has Anyone heard the hums wild version.
- Jim, New York, NC
this always reminds me about the troubles in the world.me and my mate were talking about it on the roof and were thinking about life. it mad us stop and think for once. i love it.
- Tay, San Diego, CA
This song gives me shivers everytime I listen to it. I'ts beautiful
- nady, adelaide, Australia
I love the Beatles. Ya know that quote from Almost Famous? 'They don't even know what it is to be a fan. Y'know? To truly love some silly little piece of music, or some band, so much that it hurts.'
thats how i feel about the beatles
- Olivia, Chicago, IL
I love how Rufus Wainwright sang this song for the movie I am Sam, because that is my favorite movie! It was really good that the Beatles wrote it! It is a very good song.
- Alyson, Beaver Dam, WI
I LOVE THIS SONG!It's so artistic yet it's beautiful! And definatley one of my favorites!I sang it to my grandpa for his birthday because he loved the beatles!
- Janet, Philedelphia, PA
This song contains probably the most beautiful lyrics ever written.
- Rosario, Naples, FL
This has been described by many famous musicians as an example of a "perfect song"....The beautiful words, circling guitar chords, the fact its really just John and his guitar.....Perfect
- Clubber Lange, Ocean Gate, NJ
probably one of the only songs that can make me cry. it is so beautiful. that is the sign of true art, if it can cause you to experience an emotion by being exposed to it. across the universe is not a song but a piece of art.
- Emma, asheville, NC
This song is also featured in the Beatles-inspired epic "Across the Universe". A young boy is shown singing it as he hides behind a wrecked car during the 12th Street Riot in Detroit, which segues into that same young boy's funeral, where it is sung by an Afro-American gospel choir. This is woven in with scenes of the funeral of an American soldier who was killed in Vietnam.
- Bill, Erie, PA
Wendy: It's Aretha Franklin's version that is a cover, as Paul McCartney wrote the song. Because the "Let It Be" sessions had been shelved by the band and weren't released until after "Abbey Road", her version appeared before the original.
- Bill, Erie, PA
Actually Luna Let it be...naked is absolute crap. It is not the original and will never be a classic in the public's eyes. Do you even realize that John hated the so called "naked" album and asked phil Spector to come in and do something with it. He said Spector did "a fantastic job" and I agree with him. Most of teh songs are either poor "Two of us", Maggie May2 or old. "Let It Be" had already been released by Aretha Franklin in 1969. The Beatles version is a cover. I love the Spector version of "Across The Universe" absolutely marvellous. I can loop the MP3 for hours again and again. It's heavenly.
- Wendy, Liverpool, United Kingdom
I would love to watch this movie, 'cause I love this song, but I don't think it's possible in Denmark. Boo-hoo...
- Andrea, Sønderborg, Denmark
love the song! love the movie even more!

jai guru deva om!!!!
- bR!tt@ny, florissant, MO
This is probably my favorite Beatles song. It is simply beautiful...
- Ron, Auburndale, FL
This is a difficult song to sing because syllable follows syllable with little space to catch your breath!
- Susan, Toronto, Canada
My favourite song of all time !
I love all the versions : Let It Be, Anthology, Wildlife.
- Anurag, Calcutta, India
Am I the only one who noticed the similarities in lyrics from this song and Echoes by Pink Floyd???
- ozzy, fresno, CA
This is such a beatiful song. I love this song. I love the words. I play this song on repeat when I go to bed. I mean...the words just...I swear, I can not explain it. There is just so much beauty in the words. This is also a great movie. Everyone should see it. Jim Sturgess does wonderful singing it.
- Jasmine, Ponca City, OK
Brilliant song from a brilliant album. I really loved the original version that was to be used in Sergeant Peppers (and is know in Past Masters), however, the bird chirping is a little cheesy. This is the perfect stoner song. The line "words are flying out like endless rain into a paper cup" were taken from his wife, Cynthia, who described his words as such. Lennon thus took them into his song. Hnh, the perfect stoner song.
- Gene, San Diego, CA
absolutley beautiful melody. one of Lennon's best.
- jason, state of fitz, NJ
Lovley Song! Just gorgeos! Love it! John was amazing at song wwriting and singing!
- Bianca Sanchez, Alburquerque, NM
I'd like to meet more beatles fan but not the ones who think every song's about drugs people serious about the beatles only. many of you seem intelligent and cool..
www.myspace.com/wanderingalice
- jocelyn, greeneville, TN
Only love is unchangeable, so the line 'nothings gonna change my world' is odd if it means this world but great if he means his world of love.
Also beings who want to travel the universe are usually violent types who are not satisfied with living a peacful life on this planet. So its more like wishful thinking on John's part. Love is not blind,love is omniscient of maximum possible intelligence -- how could it be otherwise?
- raymond, Sydney , Australia
Across The Universe is the best movie on earth. All the Beatle fans out there should see it! I love the song! LOVE IT! ^_^
- Bianca Sanchez, Alburquerque, NM
10CC covered this on 'live in tokyo'
- Dean, Plettenberg bay, South Africa
The female backing vocalists in the song. Both were about 16 years old and one came from Brazil. Paul picked them out from the throng of fans outside the studios. Apparently John was annoyed at this as he wanted to wait till the next day to get professionals in for the job, and rightly so. But no, Paul wanted it his way. I think the girls' voices sounded very flat. However, they are part of the Beatles recording history. As to using other female backing vocalists in their songs, you can hear the distinctive sounds of Yoko and Patti helping out in "Birthday" which was put down after a night out watching a Cliff Richard movie.
- Colin, Melbourne, Australia
I don't know if this has already been noted, but the verse chords D,Bm,F#m,G,Em7,A7,D play in a circle on the fretboard of a guitar. I wonder if Lennon was relating the fingering pattern of the chords to the song's theme (Across the Universe). I think the odd's are high given his personality, the "round and round" feel to the verse's music and lyrics, and the rarity of this chord progression.
- Stewart, Bellevue, WA
Stephanie magure- No one said it was ABOUT LSD. They said it's good to listen to ON LSD. I don't think it was about any drugs at all, it reminds me of hindu philosophy/theory/whatever. Which would explain putting the mantra in the chorus.
Would be a fun song to listen to on said substance though...

:)
- Lizz, Tampa, FL
very nice work. and im looking forward to the new film being released soon, focusing on the era of the Beatles and the struggles that their fans faced. by the end of the decade, if you liked the Beatles, you were a "freak". its awesome that some people still stand up for them. the soundtrack to the film also features total Beatles work, such as "Hey Jude", "Let It Be" AND this song. i am SO looking forward to it.
- Simon, Chattanooga , TN
a lovely song and also the title for the new beatle inspired film!
- melissa, newtown, PA
I think this is the only Beatles song I know of that one of the electric guitars uses a wah-wah.
- Jim, Indio, CA
Yet another brilliant song from the Beatles
- Joel, Manchester
Gorgeous...just gorgeous
- AL, Laredo, TX
this is easily the best written Song by The Beatles. the words are beautiful & the music is incredible. this song is a piece of artwork.
- Nathan, Willow Spring, NC
I think that this song is possebly one of the most creatitive songs of all time. It has clever wording, and a tune that makes the song flow. This is unquestionably one of Lennon's best songs. I think that the Let It Be...Naked version is the best.
- Will, Midland, MI
Everyone has their own opinion as to which version of the song is best, and maybe we can have different opinions as to who Gurudeva was. Gurudev was also the name by which many in India referred to Rabindranath Tagore, the poet/playwright/novelist/songwriter/thinker who was the first Indian to win the Nobel Prize for Literature. I may be wrong, but I always thought that in the vast cast of the cover of Sgt Pepper, Rabindranath is the bearded sage in the top left corner. The images and mood of Across The Universe remind me of the languid ease of his poems. I just assumed that John had read him too, and was referring to him.
- Tim, Canberra, Australia
John's demo version released on "Anthology 2" is better than the wildlife version and the LIB version.
- Mistergreg, Evanston, IL
Relating to John Lennons "Across the Universe":
first,the lyrics "jai guru deva om" when played backwards clearly-clearly are heard as "love is good hashish. Secondly,during the filming of the movie "Let it Be" during the roof taping scenes, Mr. Lennon is also clearly heard and shown singing a verse of "Don't Let Me Down" backwards......straight from his own mouth really!.. prove them both to yourself. jrb Pittsburgh, PA.
- james, pittsburgh, PA
Another song John wrote at Kenwood, Surrey, UK when living in London had become impossible because of Beatlemania. He woke up early one morning with those words "pools of sorrow, waves of joy" in his head.
- Sarah, USA, IA
John Lennon was an amazing songwriter/singer. Across the Universe should be as well-known as Hey Jude and Let it Be. It makes me feel so peaceful and carefree. And the imagery is great! I always see rain going into a paper cup.
- Emmie, Long Island, NY
i havn't heard the other versions of across the universe i only know the original by john lennon.. i think, but i know i really love the song. the lyrics are art, they are meaningful and inspiring.
- jess, brisbane, Australia
I Love Pastmasters Two Version Sounds Very Crazy...
- William, Wellington, New Zealand
i really love this song. it has a very haunting melody and lyrics.
- leah, humboldt, IA
I?ve met people finding a deep philosophy of the universe and feeling good with ?Across the universe?, - that's to qoute my friend Jit in his personal website where he dedicated a page to the Beatles. When my phone rings, it plays 'Across the Universe' people look around for chirping birds. And my blog description reads - words are flowing out like endless rain into a paper cup they slither as they pass they slip away across the universe.. - cez.
- cez, Manila, Other
"I?ve met people finding a deep philosophy of the universe and feeling good with 'Across the universe'", to qoute my friend Jit in his website where he dedicated a page for the Beatles. Each time my phone rings, it plays 'Across the Universe'. The short description of my blog reads - words are flowing out like endless rain into a paper cup they slither while they pass they slip away across the universe ... - cez, Manila,Philippines
- cez, Manila, Other
even my non-beatle-follower friends like this song!
- pinkmonty, london, England
Thanks for the history Paul. I didn't know that, and I like the Let It Be Nked version better.
- Stefanie, Rock Hill, SC
This great Lennon song has one of the Beatles' more interesting histories, because it was originally recorded at an odd phase of their career, right before the crucial changes occurred that would lead to their breakup. It was one of a handful of songs (including "Lady Madonna", "The Inner Light" and "Hey Bulldog") recorded in a February 1968 session that followed the failure of "Magical Mystery Tour", and just before the 1968 trip to India to study transcendental meditation. Along with "The Inner Light", it is a very late, last gasp of Beatles psychedelia, as clearly shown by one of the alternative takes released on "Anthology 2". This was also the final "classic" Beatles recording session that predated Lennon's imminent and total involvement with Yoko Ono, which of course would change everything. The track languished during the "White Album" sessions, probably because psychedelic flavor was already out of step with the times in mid-1968. As Lennon's late 1968 heroin addiction and his deep unhappiness with the Beatles addled his songwriting output just before the "Get Back" sessions, he went back to the song, and the Beatles made half-hearted attempts to re-record it during these sessions before again abandoning it. Later in 1969, one of the original February 1968 tracks was remixed for the "wildlife" charity release in 1969-1970, and Phil Spector remixed and orchestrated the same track for use in the "Let it Be" album, with minimal Beatles input. Spector buried the sitar/psychedelic aspects of the recording behind his trademark strings and choir, and Lennon was reportedly happy that the song could finally be released, although by this point he was creatively done with the Beatles. The stripped-down "Let it Be Naked" version of the February 1968 recording is far and away the best released recording of the song.
- Paul, Sacramento, CA
I think this sounds quite beautiful on the Naked CD. It is as intended I suppose. As far as Lennon criticizing McCartney's production efforts and time, Lennon was too strung out to bother since around the time of 'Pepper'. McCartney and Martin had to pick up the slack and change Lennon rough materials into Beatles magic. Without McCartney during the 67-70 period who nows what would have happened to those beautiful singles and albums. However, this song is perfect on acoustic guitar compared to the rehearsal of it with full band on the 'Let It Be' film.
- Brian, Sydney, Canada
Dirk from Tennessee:

Hi, again. I would give you another example. I think The Mamas and Papas improved considerably on "I Call Your Name." And it's arguable that the master electric violinist of the classical music world, Vannesa Mae, improved on "Because" on the album "In My Life," though that perhaps should not count, since the album was produced in full by George Martin. Check out her version of "Because," which will put you in a wonderfully spaced out state of mind, and then... listen to Jeff Beck's intrumental recording of "A Day in the Life." You won't believe it. (Unless you believe in desecration of masterpieces as a form of comedy, you might want to steer clear of Jim Carrey's "I Am the Walrus.")
- Jim, Arcata, CA
As anyone who has read my mile-long comments under "Hey Jude" knows, I am an enormous Beatles fan. And usually, I have very specific opinions about which versions of their songs I like best--e.g., prior to Sgt. Pepper's, I prefer the mono version over the stereo version, every time. For the next two years, it depends on the song. In "Hey Jude's" case, I prefer the mono version about a trillion to one, and think the person responsible for the 1970 stereo remix should be executed. But with another of my huge favorites, "A Day in the Life," I distinctly prefer the stereo version.

Well, THIS song is an exception. Not as to the W.W.F. version. I can't stand that. But comparing the Spector version, which I've heard thousands of times (literally) over the past 36 years, to the "Let it Be (Naked)" version, I honestly cannot say which one I like better.

At first, I thought that would be an ephemeral state of affairs, seeing as how the "Naked" version was brand new and I'd heard the other version so very many times. But now I've heard the "Naked" version a lot of times, too. I know for sure I prefer the "Naked" versions of "Two of Us" and (by far) "I've Got a Feeling." And I just HATE McCartney's stripped-down "Long and Winding Road," which sounds like a bad joke.

But honest to god, I hear so much greatness in both the lavish Spector version of "Across the Universe" and in this upstart new version--even though they are so different. One objection to the "Naked" version, I suppose, would be the emotionally manipulative way it has Lennon's voice echoing at the end, almost producing the effect of a voice from the Great Beyond. That seems a crass thing to do, but it does add a lot to the song's emotional impact, which is already tremendous.

I can say this: That original recording has been one of my 30 all-time favorite songs since I was in high school and the "Let It Be" album came out in 1970. I heard great things about the Bowie version, bought it, and HATED it. Under those circumstances, one would expect there'd be no way I could love a new, radically different version of this song, even by the Beatles themselves.

But that just ain't so. Oh, how I love it, and it probably will be 20 more years, if I live that long, before I know which of the two versions--Spector or "Naked"--I like better. Now, if this new version of "Let It Be," with a terrific vocal twist by McCartney at the end, only didn't have a laughable guitar solo.... Well, that's ok. I sure love the Spector version of "Let It Be."

Strange, really. I'm a guy who thinks George Martin was not "The Fifth Beatle," but at LEAST "The Third Beatle," yet these three controversial Spector tunes--"Let It Be," "Universe" and "Long Winding"--are right up near the top of my list, my #6, #7 and #9 favorite Beatles songs. But I'll admit: I sure would not have wanted all their songs to sound like those three do.
- Jim, Arcata, CA
PHIL SPECTOR IS A GREAT PRODUCER, THE VERY BEST.
- Teresa, Mechelen, Belgium
Stephanie, you said way down below, about Fiona Apple, that it's hard to cover a Beatles song. That's so true. I can't even think of anyone who ever improved on a Beatles song, although a lot of people did respectable jobs. And for that matter, would you agree that every song (ALMOST every song) the Beatles ever covered of somebody's else's, they improved on. (The one obvious exception being Taste of Honey.)
- dirk, Nashville, TN
I've been a Beatles fan from the start and I always thought this song was pretty good. In the past year or so it has moved up on my personal list of Beatles favorites. If you are interested, there was a band from St. Louis Missouri that was signed by EMI around 1969. The were huge Beatles fans. They recorded an album at Abbey Road Studios during that time that wasn't released until the last few years. The name of the group was the Aerovons. They are pictured in Andy Babiuk's book entitled "Beatles gear". They wrote all of their songs, but two of them sound so much like "Across the Universe" and "Oh Darling", it makes one wonder if they weren't borrowed from the Fab Four.
- Steve, Fenton, MO
Stefanie, the reason I like Phil Spector's version is because for me it's very beautiful.
I like the songs he did for the Ronettes, Crystals, Righteous Brothers, Ike and Tina Turner
..., I like his "Wall of Sound", for me there's no question of overproduction, let's say that I'm a 100% Spector fan.
- Teresa, Mechelen, Belgium
The No One's Gonna Change Our World verison is better, i got it on my iPod(For u peole who're wondering where i got it,it's on "Past Masters, Vol.2
- Jonathan, Johnstown, PA
Linus. I think Let It Be... Naked has a cleaner sound, but that's my opinion. Buy both albums, and you can compare them and judge for yourself.
- Stefanie, Rock Hill, SC
Teresa. Phil Spector was a very talented producer, but he over-produdced the songs on Let It Be when it was originally released. That's your opinion that his talent makes it different, but obviously there were/are enough people who don't think the songs needed that much production work.
- Stefanie, Rock Hill, SC
man, this is a great song, i am not a fan of fiona apple's cover, but it is true....how on earth can anyone upstage the beatles at their own works of art?
- dean, new york, NY
I love the Bealtes beyond any other artist in the world, and I truly wish to become an astronomer. This song brings my hopes and dreams to heart!!
- Michelle, Antigonish, Canada
The difference between "Let it be" and "Let it be ... naked" is the great talent of Phil Spector.
- Teresa, Mechelen, Belgium
What is the difference between the "Let it be" and "Let it be...naked" versions of this song?
- Linus, Hamilton, ON, Canada
I love this song. The first version I heard was from Let It Be the Spectored version. I loved it, except for the distortion they put on John's voice that sounded like it was through a telephone or some other electronic device, I don't know what they used to create it, but it ruins the beauty and purity of John's voice. I do not care for Let it be...Naked. Mostly because of the distortion on the guitar at the end of each verse and the large distortion on the OM while it makes sense, drowns out John's voice for a moment. I like this song because it is simple, but speaks of so much. I connect with this song, it reminds me of when I am up late at night and I can't sleep because my mind is just running all over the place. I don't even mean to, I mean to be sleeping but my brain cannot help but be cast out Across The Universe. I also do not the Let It Be...Naked for the shrieking harpies they call a choir....thats a harsh statement. Have you heard the version done with Ravi Shankar? I think that is my favorite, because it removes almost all distortion and though the sitar addition is not my favorite, it is appropriate. Cover versions by Rufus Wainwright and Fiona Apple are quite good. My favorite is Rufus or the Ravi Shankar version. The Grammy's were pretty bad. If you happen to get a copy of the Itunes release, Stevie gets the words right and it sounds "a little" bit better. Though my personal favorite is Alicia Keys...something about the riffs she does for the song make so so much sense "Like a million eyes". I love this song, I love The Beatles. And I'm fairly sure John and I would have gotten along. This song stops me in my tracks.
- Brian Lynch, Durham, NC
Ew, those are gross ppl to sing a Beatles songs. Ew, Velvet Revolver? They are old and gross. They taint that lovely song. And Green Day? They are so full of crud. They cant take those wonderous words and sing them, since they cant even sing. I feel sad now! God. Some people.
- Ashley, Yarmouth, Canada
Today's the 25th antiversary of John Lennon's death, and I miss him! I was born 8 years or so after he died, but I feel connected to him somehow.
- Stefanie, Rock Hill, SC
Message to Johnny, Los Angeles : even if you don't like the original Phil Spector's version, you have to accept that other people have their opinion. Phil Spector, "Wall of Sound" mmmm...
- Teresa, Mechelen, Belgium
Fiona Apple's version is really good, just like that person who covered "refugee" by Tom Petty
- Johnny, Los Angeles, CA
You guys had it good! I bought Let it Be Naked BEFORE I even heard Let it Be. HUUUUUGE letdown, Phil Spector ruined this. It's sad to think many people won't even hear let it be naked. Christopher, Doesn't Yoko also do backups on Birthday. She has quite a bad voice. This is the best song on Let it Be...Naked (Maybe not the original, cuz it sucked so much!!!) If more Let it Be songs were like this and not like stupid snippets (Dig it and Maggie Mae) and without the turmoil in the album, Let it Be would have a better shot for being the Beatles best album. This is not about drugs. But I wish somebody on this chatroom actually told me the meaning, I WANT TO KNOW!!!!!
- Johnny, Los Angeles, CA
This is really good if you are trying to write poetry and it really helps you!
- Ryan, Kansas City, MO
I love this song! I can play it on acoustic guitar and it is really fun. Another wonderful John song, kinda sad somehow. On my top 20 Beatles songs list!
- Sylvia, London, England
Didn't know Ringo's wife recorded with them. Well.. never mind. I think I knew that but I'm not sure.
- Stefanie, Rock Hill, SC
Regarding women recording with the Beatles...Yoko might have been the first woman to sing a line solo in a Beatles song, but it wasn't "Happiness is a Warm Gun." It was "The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill," and Ringo's wife Maureen is also credited with singing backup on that song. George's wife Patti was credited with singing backup on "Revolver," and some of the musicians performing on "A Day in the Life" were women. Depends on your definition of "record a song with the Beatles."
- christopher, st. louis, MO
Fiona Apple's version is good, but it's hard to make a good cover of a Beatles song.
- Stefanie, Rock Hill, SC
I feel a bit out in the dark here, the only version I've heard is the Fiona Apple version, from the end of the Pleasantville movie, until today I was a bit puzzled by the Jai Guru bit, it sounded Latin, which was confusing from a Beatle (or anyone for that matter). Also, someone said earlier that it inspired Liam Gallagher and I was wondering if they got confused, since Noel wrote every Oasis song until Standing On the Shoulders of Giants?
- Gerard, Honikiwi, New Zealand
Just to second what everybody else has said, the 'Let It Be...Naked' version of this song is much better, as well as all of the other songs on the 'Let It Be' album. It's really a shame what Phil Spector did to the album.
- Ryan, Lakewood, OH
I agree Luna.
- Stefanie, Rock Hill, SC
Sorry Brian, he first woman to appear on a Beatles album was Yoko Ono. Happins is a Wam Gun Wite Album.
- john, stoke
The Let It Be ..... Naked version is 100% better. The original is crap. Its only good if you haven't heard the naked version.
- Luna, London, England
if anyone is interested go to www.cyndilauper.net all of her unreleased material is there including an awesome studio recording she made of "across the universe"
- kevin, central islip, NY
I like the Naked version bettter too.
- Stefanie magura, Rock Hill, SC
I think the "De-Spectored" version
on Let It Be Naked is 100% better.
But everyone's entitled to their opinion aren't they?
- Kalissa, New York City, NY
For me Phil Spector's version is just PERFECT.
I have the orginal "Let it be"-cd and if it wasn't for Phil Spector, I don't think that it would be as good as it is. For me Phil Spector is the greatest music talent of popsongs.
- Teresa, Mechelen, Belgium
The Naked version of this song is absolutely perfect. I agree with everyone who said Spector ruined the song. He did. This song needed nothing to "complement" its sound.
- Chet Walters, ink specialist, Bethlehem, PA
No, Albert from Houston, Ecstasy wasn't manufactured 20 years later. Most of us in the 70's smoked weed and dropped acid and that was it. Speed/coke/amphetamines were around but not so popular.
- Eloise, London, England
Anyone else think its weird that John, who was weary of religion, especially the Maharishi, would put in the Hindu chant? Then claim he liked the lyrics? By the way the naked version is far superior, Spector ruined that song.
- Nathan, Defiance, OH
the naked versionis so much better
- kika, nyc, NY
To Jordan from Wimette Illinois. It's "words are flowing out like endless rain into a paper cup."
- Stefanie magura, Rock Hill, SC
The two girls singing in the background during the chorus were unknowns simply hanging out by the studio and were spontaneously invited in to record. What a great job they did.
- Jim, Winchester, MA
John Lennon cited this as an example of Paul's attempt to push for more studio time for his own material. According to John, this was treated as not such a major work, and worked on very little in the studio, allowing Paul more time to fine-tune his own material.
Lennon claimed that this was an on-going situation in the later days.
My guess is that John was so out of it at the time, he was too apathetic to press for more time.
- John, dublin, United States
Is it 'words are floating out and in, it's raining to a paper cup' or 'words are floating out like endless rain into a paper cup'?
- Jordan, Wimette, IL
Good song, it's ok
- Ben, Cheverly, MD
I don't know...doesnt quit touch on LSD..but..was Ecstasy around at that time?
- Albert, Houston, TX
this song has got to be about acid. look at the lyrics man.
- Fuko, Oakland, CA
This is the one song by the Beatiles in which I prefer the cover version to the Beeatles version. Fiona Apple did a great version. What it proves (I know a lot of you wil dissagree with me) is that a good song is a good song, no mater who sings it. More evidence of the genius of the Beatles.
- lee newham, London, England
Phil Spector's version is just perfect, he didn't kill or overproduce the song, let's just say that he has a lot of talent. Phil Spector, you are still my number 1, love you 4 ever!
- Teresa, Mechelen, Belgium
across the universe is a wonderful song. John Lennon when he sings Jai Guru Deva Om, he is saying victory to the gods. I know this because i am hindi
- Ash, cary, NC
I perform this song. Its got a great melody and the lyrics fit perfectly. It was hard to learn because of the phrasing. I recall seeing John Lennon on tape once saying "I cant believe I wrote these daft lyrics" Its hard to memorize because there is nothing concrete to visualize. Liek a story. Its rather mindless blather going on and on. Did I hear Axl Rose from Guns and Roses totally ruin this song? Was that at the Grammys?
- kevin, Canada, Canada
Listening to Lennon's "Let It Be Naked" version this song carefully, you can hear Lennon's deep understanding of the nature of String Theory thirty years before it was proposed. If "OM" is the vibration of the universe, "Across" is the narrative of how String Theory operates. Now, listen again...
- Dave, Baltimore, MD
The Grammy's have been a big dissappointment for a long time so what else is new ? Last year they advertised heavily that there would be a special tribute to the Beatles. There were days and days of adds talking about it. When it came right down to it they had Paul for about 30 seconds and Ringo for about 30 seconds. That's it. I was infuriated and regretted spending all those hours waiting through the rap crap just for so little of what I wanted.
- Gary, Moorpark, CA
One of my favorite Beatles songs and very fun to sing and play. It makes me feel so serene and peaceful and very special in a special world.
- Gary, Moorpark, CA
Stephanie, The thing about acid is that after you come down you are changed in a profound way for a very long time. Everything you do from that point on is " influenced " by what you have done to yourself in one 12 hour period. Eventually it all goes away - If you quit - just like smoking. And when I say profound it is not all good.
- Gary, Moorpark, CA
The road to hell is paved with good intentions, and while you walk down the road there are speakers blasting the Grammy All-Star Tsunami relief team's disembowling of "Across the Universe." It could have been worse. They could have been translating it to sign language. They could have forced the audience to do the wave. They could have flashed the words "Free Mark David Chapman" on the screen. In the ranks of "Brilliant Minds organizing to destroy a thing of beauty," Grammy's "Across the Universe" ranks with the bombing of Dresden.
- craig, madison, WI
I like the Past Masters Volume 2 version of this better, good song, good song

btw, Lucy from Chicago, nice job of cut and paste on your entry ;)
- John, Boston, MA
I can't believe y'all think this song's about LSD! If you listen to it or read the lyrics, it clearly isn't. Even though I'm not sure if I believe it, I can see why a song like "Lucy In The sky With Diamonds' would have something to do with LSD, but "All Across The Universe"? that makes no sense.
- Stefanie magura, Rock Hill, SC
I agree Loretta. I like the virsion on 'Let It be Naked" better too.
- Stefanie magura, Rock Hill, SC
I like this song very much but I don't agree with some of you about Phil Spector. For me "Let it be" is a very good album because of the great talent of Phil Spector. I consider him as THE
VERY, VERY, VERY BEST.
- Teresa, Mechelen, Belgium
Which album does Across the Universe (the version where John says "Goodnight Richie" at the beginning) appear on?
- Joslynn, pj, Malaysia
David (Gosford) -- I totally agree. The stripped down version is a million times better than the Spectorfied travesty.
- Nessie, Sapporo, Japan
i agree with ana and kenny on this one... what an unappropriate song to play at the grammys, with war and everything. "nothin's gonna change my world"? i love this song, and they should of left it alone.
- jackie, chicago, IL
Who is John talking to when he says, "Goodnight Richie" at the beginning. I assume it's Ringo - who then did a quick drum into as a nod to John, and then left for the evening.
- Edwin, Parker, CO
My favorite song ever
- Carly, San Diego, CA
This is one of my favorites along with Don't Let Me Down. I agree with Ana, they butchered it at the grammys.
- Kenny, Baltimore, MD
I'm no kind of purist, and I still hate what they did to it at the Grammies. Note to all singers: the more people singing, the more alike they need to sound. Urgh!
- Ana, Louisville, KY
A thorough analysis of this song can be found here:
http://www.geocities.com/hammodotcom/beathoven/unihome.htm
- Martijn, Helmond, Netherlands
I hated what they did with this at the grammys. i know it was for a good cause and everything, but im such a purist that i hate anything but the original. plus, Stevie Wonder said "caressing and caressing me" rather than "posessing and caressing me" which didnt help the matter
- Ellen, Nashville, TN
actually jenny, lucy in the sky with diamonds is about a drawing julian showed john when he was just a kid, accoring to john. across the universe opens like this; "words are flowing out like endless rain into a paper cup, they slither wildly as they slip away across the universe"
- Mason, San Antonio, TX
Steven Tyler, Norah Jones, Brian Wison, Green Day,
Stevie Wonder, Alicia Keys, Tim McGraw and Emmylou Harris all backed by Velvet Revolver performed this live on the 2005 Grammy Awards. 100% of the proceeds from the download benefit tsunami victims. Righteous!
- C.C., LAKE CHARLES, LA
Awesome song! In the grammys it was sang for the tsumani disaster with all of the various artists but they didn't sing it with their heart like john did, well Norah Jones, Alicia Keys, the lead singer of Velvet Revolver with Stevie Wonder was great but Steven Tyler messed it up big time with the tone of the song.
- Jude, Los Angeles, CA
Guru Deva, actually it is Guru Dev, is incited in the song because he was the Maharishi's teacher. He is an actual person, and they invoked him in their meditation every day. The name actually has meaning in itself. A Guru is a teacher, or spiritual leader of sorts. Dev, according to some other sites I went to, means god or heavenly one. As stated, Maharishi's actual teacher's name was Guru Dev. John Lennon appeared to take the liberty adding the "a"on the end. Jai means, and there are several meanings I have for this, "I give hope, or thanks to", this I was told, but some sites say it means, "victory" or "salutations". Om, is probaby the easiest part to explain. Om is believed to be the natural vibration of the universe. Hence, when many meditate, they make the "ooohhhmmmm" sound. They are trying to bring in that vibration of the universe.

So all together it means, "I give thanks (victory) (salutation) to Guru Dev (or heavenly teacher), om".
- Lucy, Chicago, IL
"slither wildly as they pass"

Thank you thank you thank you.
This has been bugging me for years because I always thought the line went "slither while they pass" but Lennnon clearly sings "as" and the line "slither while they as they slip away..." clearly didn't make sense.
- col, sheffield, England
ha! you think this song describes LSD... what about Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds
- Jenny, Miami, FL
Falsetto harmonies on the charity album version provided by Lizzie Bravo and Gayleen Pease, two fans Paul found outside Abbey Road Studios 2-4-'68
- Jes, Mason City, IA
I like everything on Let it B Naked better
- Loretta, Liverpool, England
i love this song. i mean, its a song about songwriting.
- ellen, Nashville, TN
I personally like the version on Let it Be...Naked the best.
- Travis, New York City, NY
The lyrics listed here are wrong. Fiona Apple sings it wrong. Rufus Wainwright sings it wrong. David Bowie got it right but then he had John to help him. The words don't "slither while they pass" and there are no "shades of earth". Those are someone's incorrect interpretation first printed in the "Beatle's Illustrated Lyrics". It's "slither wildly" and "shades of life" kids. Give the originals a listen.
- George, San Francisco, IL
This song accurately describes what it is like to be on LSD? Really? You must have had some extremely mundane LSD then!
- Si, London, England
The words came to John one night at Kenwood, while he was trying to sleep. He had a discussion with Cynthia and the sentence "pools of sorrow, waves of joy" didn't let him rest. So he got up and wrote all the lyric before returning to bed.
- Rato, Lisbon, Portugal
It's alright for Fionna Apple to cover this song, but a lot of people think that she wrote it.
- Jeff, Barrington, IL
This song accurately describes what it is like to be on LSD...Believe me ;)
- Erik, NYC, NY
Phil Spector killed this song. I didn't fall in love with the song until I heard it on Anthology 2, which removes all of Spector's fluff.
- David, Gosford, Australia
George Martin was right
- Danny, Grass Valley, CA
Thanks for the lyrics. I've never read them before. Actually I thought when they were singing "Jai Guru Deva Om" they were saying something about macaroons...
- Liza, The Dalles, OR
A great song that i beileve more people should live bye. I know i do.
- MATT, CHICAGO, IL
Rufus Wainwright remade this song for the I Am Sam soundtrack
- Carolyn, P'ville, CA
George Martin has claimed the album Let It Be was produced by him and over produced by Phil Spector.
- Tommy, Duluth, MN
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