Formed in Liverpool, England back in 1960 by John Lennon, George Harrison and Paul McCartney, The Beatles changed the whole music business in the 60s with their sound and lyrics that caused a real revolution all over the world.
The band was active for only 10 years but it was enough to make them the most successful group of all time with an estimated amount of more than 600 records sold worldwide. Most part of that achievement is credited to the band’s main songwriters John Lennon and Paul McCartney.
Sadly, that partnership didn’t had the opportunity to happen again since Lennon was brutally murdered in 1980 at the age of 40. But before that tragedy, the musician talked a lot about his songwriting career and even named which was in his opinion one of the greatest songs The Beatles wrote.
The Beatles song that John Lennon said was one of the greatest
As in every band, the relationship between the musician are not always the greatest and there was a lot of tension going on in the last years The Beatles were together. That ultimately led Lennon to decide to leave the band and it was the end of it. So after 1970, the four legendary members were on their own, focused more on their solo careers.
In 1971, Lennon talked in an interview with Rolling Stone magazine about his new challenges and looked back on his career with The Beatles. He analyzed many classic songs they composed and mentioned one that in his opinion was one of the greatest ones.
“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 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,” John Lennon said.
Credited to Lennon and McCartney, the song first appeared on the charity compilation album “No One’s Gonna Change Our World”, which featured various artists like The Hollies, Cliff Richard and Bee Gees.
But one year later the song appeared on the band’s final album “Let It Be” with a different arrangement. It was the only Beatles album that wasn’t produced by their longtime collaborator George Martin. That record had Phil Spector as the producer.
Lennon believed that Paul McCartney subconsciously tried to sabotage his songs
There was a lot of animosity between the members of The Beatles after the band came to an end, especially in the relationship of Lennon and McCartney. During the 70s both of them didn’t said good things about each other when talking with the press and just a few months before his tragic death, Lennon said in an interview with Playboy magazine that McCartney subconsciously tried to sabotage his songs.
“The Beatles didn’t make a good record of ‘Across the Universe.’ I think subconsciously we… I thought Paul subconsciously tried to destroy my great songs. We would play experimental games with my great pieces, like ‘Strawberry Fields,’ which I always felt was badly recorded.”
“It worked, but it wasn’t what it could have been. I allowed it, though. We would spend hours doing little, detailed cleaning up on Paul’s songs. But when it came to mine… especially a great song like ‘Strawberry Fields’ or ‘Across the Universe’. Somehow an atmosphere of looseness and experimentation would come up.”
“Subconscious sabotage. I was too hurt… Paul will deny it, because he has a bland face and will say this doesn’t exist. This is the kind of thing I’m talking about where I was always seeing what was going on and began to think, Well, maybe I’m paranoid. But it is not paranoid. It is the absolute truth. The same thing happened to ‘Across the Universe.’ The song was never done properly. The words stand, luckily,” John Lennon said.
Although McCartney included many times on his solo career setlist, songs that had his bandmates on vocals, like George Harrison‘s “Something”, there are no records that he performed “Across the Universe” live in concert. That track was famously performed by an all-star band formed to play it at the Grammy Awards in 2005. The group had Slash, Bono, Scott Weiland, Stevie Wonder, Steven Tyler, Brian Wilson and Billie Joe Armstrong.