John Lennon is one of the most acclaimed lyricists of all time and he said one of The Beatles’ later songs might have his best lyrics. During an interview, he discussed what kind of lyrics really stood out to him. Here’s how the world reacted to this song.
John Lennon said the lyrics of this Beatles song don’t need a melody
In Jann S. Wenner’s book Lennon Remembers, John is sometimes brutally honest about the Beatles songs he doesn’t like. However, he points to a few key tracks as favorites. While John didn’t enjoy the making of the album Let It Be, he was particularly fond of one of its songs: “Across the Universe.”
“There are many songs I forget like that, that I do like, John told Wenner. “I like ‘Across the Universe,’ too. 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 tune, it stands. The ones I like are ones that stand as words, without melody. They don’t have to have any melody. It’s a poem, you could read them.”
Wenner asked John if his “ultimate criteria” for songs were lyrics that stood on their own without melodies. “No, it’s just the ones I happen to like,” John replied. “I like to read other people’s lyrics too.”
Did the world like The Beatles’ ‘Across the Universe’ as much as John Lennon did?
John wasn’t alone in his assessment of “Across the Universe.” Rolling Stone released a list of the 100 greatest Beatles songs. They ranked “Across the Universe” No. 84 on the list, praising its lyrics.
Clearly, John and music critics liked “Across the Universe.” Was the public as impressed with the song as he was? “Across the Universe” was not a single so it didn’t chart on the Billboard Hot 100. However, its parent album, Let It Be, reached No. 1 on the Billboard 200. It remained on the chart for weeks.
A look at some of the many artists who covered or referenced The Beatles’ ‘Across the Universe’
While it’s hard to assess the song’s popularity in commercial terms, “Across the Universe” seems to have resonated because it’s become a standard. Among the artists to cover the track are David Bowie, Stevie Wonder, Brian Wilson, Fiona Apple, and Evanescence.
In the same vein, Marilyn Manson referenced the track’s iconic lyrics in his band’s song “Lamb of God” from the critically acclaimed concept album Holy Wood (In the Shadow of the Valley of Death). In “Lamb of God,” Manson twists John’s lyrics from “Nothing’s gonna change my world” to the even more pessimistic “Nothing’s gonna change the world.” In addition, the song’s title was used as the name of a jukebox musical film based around the music of The Beatles. John was proud of “Across the Universe” and it appears the public liked it as well.
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