Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Everyone Smiles As You Drift Past The Flowers

The next song on the "Pepper" LP is another Lennon/McCartney original mainly written by John entitled "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds". The inspiration for the tune came from a child's painting (Julian Lennon's painting) who had come home from school and had shown this painting to John. John asked his son what it was and Julian replied "It's Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds". The light bulb lit up in John's head and a song was born, so to speak. After the release of the LP, some people suggested that the main words of the song title spelled out LSD. Lennon has denied this suggestion during interviews conducted throughout his entire short life. The song was banned by the BBC in the UK (during its initial release).

"Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds" was first recorded on Tuesday February 28 1967 at EMI studio two although this recording was never used due to the fact that on this day The Beatles spend eight hours rehearsing the song and not producing any usable takes.

The song was properly attempted the next day on March 01 1967 once again at EMI studio two. Seven takes were recorded for the basic track. The first six takes consisted of some piano by George Martin and acoustic guitar by George Harrison, a hammond organ played by Paul (including the opening riff), John playing maracas and singing a guide vocal and Ringo on Drums. On the final take (take 07), the George Martin piano part was discarded as well as the maracas and guide vocal. In it's place was the drone of a tamboura. At this point all four tracks were full and a tape reduction was required. All instruments were shoved onto one track which lead the song into take 08. The recording with John's guide vocal can be heard on the television special: "The Making of Sgt. Pepper" as well as the vinyl bootleg LP "Arrive Without Travelling" which used the same source.

The next day on Friday March 02 1967, "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds" was subjected to the following overdubs: Paul added his bass and George added his electric guitar played through a leslie rotating speaker. John added two layers of his vocal while Paul harmonized each time. Once this was complete, eleven mono mixes were attempted before mix 11 was chosen as the best mix. The Beatles were not happy with the mix and all 11 mono mixes from the March 02 1967 were never used.

The following day on Saturday March 03 1967, mono mixes were once again attempted at EMI studio two. Four mono mixes were produced and the fourth one was chosen. A lot of "flanging" can be heard on the mono version of the LP where this mix was used. The stereo mix for "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds" was conducted on Friday April 0 1967 from the control room of EMI studio two with a lot less "flange". Five stereo mixes were completed and the fifth mix was considered for release.

"Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds" is available on the Parlophone UK LP/CD "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" as well as the North American Capitol LP of the same name. It also appears on the compilation by Apple 2-LP/2-CD "The Beatles 1967-1970". The song was also included on the UK "Sgt. Pepper" picture disc ( EMI PHO-7027) as well as the North American Capitol counterpart (SEAX-11840). Both picture discs were released in the late 70s.

"Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds" was performed by John Lennon and Elton John (who had covered the song) on Thanksgiving Day (November 28) 1974 from Madison Square Garden in New York City. This version was released on the "Lennon" box set from 1990.

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