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Listen To The Beatles' First Attempt At Recording This Famous Song

by Kate Ryan

May 19, 2017
Image via Wikipedia

Fifty years ago, The Beatles released “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,” a song that would go on to become one of their most famous in music history. On Thursday, NPR Music released the first take of that song, in which The Beatles test out their original conception of the song at the Abbey Road Studios in London.

In what would ultimately take four days, the band rehearsed, tweaked, and refined the song until it arrived at the version we all know and love today, “All Songs Considered” host Bob Boilen reports. While most assumed then, and continue to assume now, the song has to do with acid-fueled hallucinations, Boilen writes John Lennon actually had his then 3-year-old child in mind when crafting the lyrics. Apparently, as Lennon once described in an interview with Dick Cavett in 1971, Lennon’s son had made a painting of a classmate and gave it the title, “Lucy in the sky with diamonds.” So much for hidden acronyms. 

In stark contrast to the finalized hit, this recording lacks the famous chorus and features bits of chatter going on between band members who are trying to figure out key transitions. “You hear, in the bits of backgrounded conversation, a true collaboration, a bit of magic unfolding. It's thrilling to hear,” writes Boilen.

This might sound like sacrilege for hard core Beatles fans, but I like this version better than the final, perfectly mixed outcome. Listen to it on Vevo here and compare notes with the final lyrics below.  

Picture yourself in a boat on a river
With tangerine trees and marmalade skies
Somebody calls you, you answer quite slowly
A girl with kaleidoscope eyes

Cellophane flowers of yellow and green
Towering over your head
Look for the girl with the sun in her eyes
And she's gone

Lucy in the sky with diamonds
Lucy in the sky with diamonds
Lucy in the sky with diamonds

Follow her down to a bridge by a fountain
Where rocking horse people eat marshmallow pies
Everyone smiles as you drift past the flowers
That grow so incredibly high

Newspaper taxis appear on the shore
Waiting to take you away
Climb in the back with your head in the clouds
And you're gone

Lucy in the sky with diamonds
Lucy in the sky with diamonds
Lucy in the sky with diamonds

Picture yourself on a train in a station
With plasticine porters with looking glass ties
Suddenly someone is there at the turnstile
The girl with the kaleidoscope eyes

Lucy in the sky with diamonds
Lucy in the sky with diamonds
Lucy in the sky with diamonds

Lucy in the sky with diamonds
Lucy in the sky with diamonds
Lucy in the sky with diamonds

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Listen To The Beatles' First Attempt At Recording This Famous Song