Across The Universe

To begin with, there are a few Beatles versions of “Across The Universe” available from the late 1960s. But, where there are variations, the main one we deal with is always those from the original 12 studio albums. In this case it is the “Let It Be” album from 1970. However, we have a little information on other versions below.

Just to point out that the song became part of a charity compilation album with various artists in 1969 called, “No One’s Gonna Change Our World”. Therefore that was the first ever commercial release of the song.

In Detail

Albums

Release Date: 8th May, 1970
Recorded: 3rd, 4th, 8th February, 1968
Studio: EMI Studios, London
Genre: Psychedelic folk
Track Duration: 3:49
Record Label: Apple
Songwriters: Lennon-McCartney
Producer: George Martin

Performers (Let It Be Version)

John Lennon: lead vocal, acoustic guitar, electric guitar
Paul McCartney: bass
George Harrison: tambura
Ringo Starr: maracas

Other Performer

Phil Spector: strings and choir

Track Source

Let It Be
Past Masters
Anthology 2
Let It Be… Naked

Across The Universe

John Lennon’s wife Cynthia was going “on and on” about something one night in 1967. Then, while he was restless in bed that night, the phrase “words are flowing out like endless rain into a paper cup” kept running through his head. So, he went back downstairs and wrote a song out of the “endless stream” going through his mind.

After meeting the Maharishi in Bangor, Wales, in August 1967, The Beatles’ interest in Transcendental Meditation became stronger. So, John Lennon managed to add this influence into the song. In fact, the mantra “Jai guru deva om” becomes a link to the chorus. Moreover, it is a fragmented phrase which could have different meanings.

In the first place, the phrase means, “glory to the shining remover of darkness”.

Across The Universe is a Beatles' song on the Let It Be album
Let It Be Album (1970)
Across The Universe is a Beatles' song which alo appears on the Past Masters Album
Past Masters Album (1988)
Across The Universe is a Beatles' song which is also on their Anthology 2 album
Anthology 2 Album (1996)
Across The Universe is a Beatles' song which is also on their Let It Be... Naked Album
Let It Be… Naked Album (2003)
However, through paraphrasing, this can mean “Victory to God divine” or even “Hail to the divine guru”. It can also mean “All glory to Guru Dev” as the late Maharishi Mahesh Yogi would say when referring to his spiritual teacher.

Recording

Before their planned visit to India in February 1968, the band wanted to record a new single for release. While they were out of the UK, John Lennon wanted his “Across The Universe” to be that single. However, he wasn’t happy with the sound so their release became “Lady Madonna” with the B-side “The Inner Light” instead.

While they recorded “Across The Universe” they invited two girls in off the streets that had gathered outside the studios. Both Lizzie Bravo and Gayleen Pease, provided backup vocals for the song. This was the one and only time that The Beatles had done this of course.

In January, 1969, they took up the song again for the “Get Back” project (which evolved into “Let It Be”). Indeed, in the film “Let It Be“, we see John Lennon playing the song. However, after much mixing, especially the January, 1970 mix by Glyn Johns where he took out various additions like the girls’ vocals, the band had all but broke up. So, the version on the 1970 “Let It Be” album is a mix by Phil Spector, since he took on the “Get Back” project.

World Wildlife Fund Version

Spike Milligan visited the recording studios in February, 1968 and suggested that “Across The Universe” would make a decent charity record. Spike was organising a charity album for the World Wildlife Fund. So, with The Beatles’ blessing, a mix with sound effects of birds on the beginning and end of the song came about. Hence, the version on the charity album, “No One’s Gonna Change Our World” is what we got first.

This version is also on the 1988 “Past Masters” album. There it’s on side 2, track 13 after George Harrison’s “Old Brown Shoe” and before “Let It Be”.

Other Versions

In 1996, with the release of “Anthology 2” album, a version recorded before the master tapes becomes the final song on the album. There was no heavy production and together with the sitar and tambura sound, this version became the “psychedelic” version.

Then, in 2003, the February master tape came out again. This was for the “Let It Be… Naked” album, of course. This is an album that Paul McCartney stripped back to what the original “Get Back/Let It Be” should have been like. However, we will never know if this would be to John Lennon’s approval since he died in 1980. On this album, “Across The Universe” is track 10, after “I Me Mine” and comes before the last track, “Let It Be“.

Versions In Detail

No One’s Gonna Change Our World

Let It Be

John Lennon – lead vocal, acoustic guitar, electric Leslie-speaker guitar
Paul McCartney – piano,[25] backing vocal
George Harrison – tambura, backing vocal
Ringo Starr – maracas, bass drum
Lizzie Bravo – backing vocal
Gayleen Pease – backing vocal
John Lennon – lead vocal, acoustic guitar, electric guitar
Paul McCartney – piano
George Harrison – tambura
Ringo Starr – maracas, bass drum
Phil Spector – strings and choir

Let It Be… Naked

Anthology 2

John Lennon – lead vocal, acoustic guitar, electric Leslie-speaker guitar
George Harrison – tambura
Ringo Starr – bass drum
John Lennon – lead vocal and acoustic guitar
George Harrison – sitar and tambura
Ringo Starr – tom tom drum and swarmandal

White Album 50th Anniversary Edition

John Lennon – lead vocal and acoustic guitar
Ringo Starr – bass drum

Author: Bobby

I have been a Beatles fan since the early 1960s so I speak from my heart and soul. It was a pleasure to accept the role of Admin on The Beatles Forum when we left our old site. If you feel that something needs correcting with the information I provide, please contact me.

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