The next song on the Parlophone UK LP "Rubber Soul" is definitely a highlight of the album. The second tune on side one is an original Lennon/McCartney composition written mainly by John. The song is about an affair that happened between Lennon and another woman. The emotion of the affair inspired the lyrics to the song entitled "Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)".
The song was originally known only as "This Bird Has Flown" and the song was first attempted at the recording session held on Tuesday October 12 1965 at EMI studio two. There was only one take of the basic track but the song had been heavily worked on before hand. The unusual instrumentation of the song consisted of an acoustic guitar, bass, sitar, finger cymbals, tambourine and maracas. John Lennon's vocals were double tracked and Paul added a harmony vocal in the middle eight parts. All this for nothing because the recording (as it stood) was not released during the Beatles' career. The Beatles decided to re-make the song. This version of "This Bird Has Flown" was eventually released commercially (although it has appeared on bootleg in the late 80s on "Ultra Rare Trax, Volume 5/6") on the Apple 2-CD/3-LP "Anthology 2".
The song was re-made and re-recorded later in the month on October 21 1965 once again at EMI Studio Two. The song was now entitled "Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)" and three takes were conducted. The takes were numbered 2 to 4. Take 4 was the commercial version on the album. The instrumentation was similar to the previous recording session with acoustic guitars, John and Paul's vocals, bass, bass drum, tambourine and the double tracked sitar played by George Harrison. This was the first time a sitar had been featured on the rock song in the 1960s. All of the previous takes of the song are played in the key of "D" with the exception of the final take (take 4) where the song is played one tone higher in the key of "E". Take 2 is available on the excellent bootleg "Turn Me On, Dead Man".
"Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)" was mixed for mono four days later on October 25 1965 from the control room of studio two. The song was mixed for stereo the next day on October 26 1965 again from the control room of studio two. It should be noted that the mono mix of the song contains an audible cough during the first bridge that is not present in the stereo mix.
"Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown) is available on the Parlophone UK LP/CD "Rubber Soul" as well as the North American Capitol LP/CD "Rubber Soul". It is also featured on the Apple 2-LP/2-CD package "The Beatles 1962-1966" as well as the EMI/Capitol double LP "Love Songs" and the UK and Canada EMI/Capitol LP release "The Beatles Ballads"
"Norwegian Wood (This Bird has Flown)" was never performed live.