“Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)”, of course, is a Beatles’ song from their album “Rubber Soul”. Indeed, the track has an Eastern-inspired sound featuring a sitar (Indian instrument). Their “take 1” of this song is also on their 1996 album, “Anthology 2”.
Release Date: 3rd December, 1965
Recorded: 12th and 21st October, 1965
Studio: EMI Studios, London
Genre: Folk rock, raga rock
Track Duration: 2:05
Record Label: Parlophone
Producer: George Martin
Engineer: Norman Smith
Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)
The song, “Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)”, graces the “Rubber Soul” album from 1965. Indeed, this track features a sitar, an Indian instrument. This is the first commercially available recording of a Western pop song to do so. George Harrison played the instrument to great effect and went on to play it on a few other Beatles’ songs.
In early 1965, Harrison took an interest in the exotic sound of the sitar while shooting for the film, Help! There was a lot of interest in the sound of the sitar on “Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)” that it became instrumental in the development of raga rock and psychedelic rock during the mid 1960s.
John Lennon wrote the song which is about his extramarital affair he had in London. Although we don’t know for certain who the woman was, there was a suggestion from writer, Philip Norman, that it was either journalist Maureen Cleave or Sonny Freeman.
“Norwegian Wood is my song completely. It was about an affair I was having. I was very careful and paranoid because I didn’t want my wife, Cyn, to know that there really was something going on outside of the household. I’d always had some kind of affairs going, so I was trying to be sophisticated in writing about an affair, but in such a smoke-screen way that you couldn’t tell. But I can’t remember any specific woman it had to do with.”
All We Are Saying, David Sheff
Paul McCartney’s Contribution
Although John Lennon claims all of the song as we see above, he also says in another interview with the Rolling Stone Magazine that middle section was from Paul McCartney.
“I came in and he had this first stanza, which was brilliant: ‘I once had a girl, or should I say, she once had me.’ That was all he had, no title, no nothing. I said, ‘Oh yes, well, ha, we’re there.’ And it wrote itself. Once you’ve got the great idea, they do tend to write themselves, providing you know how to write songs. So I picked it up at the second verse, it’s a story. It’s him trying to pull a bird, it was about an affair. John told Playboy that he hadn’t the faintest idea where the title came from but I do. Peter Asher had his room done out in wood, a lot of people were decorating their places in wood. Norwegian wood. It was pine really, cheap pine. But it’s not as good a title, Cheap Pine, baby…
So she makes him sleep in the bath and then finally in the last verse I had this idea to set the Norwegian wood on fire as revenge, so we did it very tongue in cheek. She led him on, then said, ‘You’d better sleep in the bath’. In our world the guy had to have some sort of revenge. It could have meant I lit a fire to keep myself warm, and wasn’t the decor of her house wonderful? But it didn’t, it meant I burned the fucking place down as an act of revenge, and then we left it there and went into the instrumental.”
Many Years From Now, Barry Miles
The Beatles began recording “Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)” on the 12th October, 1965, in Studio Two of the EMI Studios, London during the 7.00pm-11.30pm sessions. There was only one take that day with much overdubbing to the track. However, this take wasn’t good enough. This version is now available on their 1996 album, “Anthology 2”.
The band set about doing a re-make of the song on the 21st October, 1965, in the same studio. They recorded a further three takes that day with the final take being suitable for the sitar overdubs etc.