- Published in 1967
- Author: Lennon/McCartney
- Track 3 on “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band“
- Track 5 on “The Beatles 1967-1970” (Blue Album)
JOHN 1980: “My son Julian came in one day with a picture he painted about a school friend of his named Lucy. He had sketched in some stars in the sky and called it ‘Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,’ Simple. The images were from ‘Alice in Wonderland.’ It was Alice in the boat. She is buying an egg and it turns into Humpty Dumpty. The woman serving in the shop turns into a sheep and the next minute they are rowing in a rowing boat somewhere and I was visualizing that. There was also the image of the female who would someday come save me… a ‘girl with kaleidoscope eyes’ who would come out of the sky. It turned out to be Yoko, though I hadn’t met Yoko yet. So maybe it should be ‘Yoko in the Sky with Diamonds.’ It was purely unconscious that it came out to be LSD. Until somebody pointed it out, I never even thought it, I mean, who would ever bother to look at initials of a title? It’s NOT an acid song. The imagery was Alice in the boat and also the image of this female who would come and save me– this secret love that was going to come one day. So it turned out to be Yoko… and I hadn’t met Yoko then. But she was my imaginary girl that we all have.”
PAUL circa-1994: “I went up to John’s house in Weybridge. When I arrived we were having a cup of tea, and he said, ‘Look at this great drawing Julian’s done. Look at the title!’ So I said, ‘What’s that mean?’ thinking Wow, fantastic title! John said, ‘It’s Lucy, a freind of his from school. And she’s in the sky.’ …so we went upstairs and started writing it. People later thought ‘Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds’ was LSD. I swear– we didn’t notice that when it first came out.”
About “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”
“Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” was written primarily by John Lennon and credited to the Lennon–McCartney songwriting partnership. Lennon said that his inspiration for the song came when his three-year-old son Julian showed him a nursery school drawing that he called “Lucy – in the Sky with Diamonds”, depicting his classmate Lucy O’Donnell. Ringo Starr witnessed the moment when Julian first said the song’s title after returning home from nursery school. According to Lennon, he wrote a song about it as soon as he thought of it.
Before the album’s release, speculation spread that the first letter of each of the nouns in the title spelled out “LSD”, the initialism for lysergic acid diethylamide, a hallucinogenic drug. As a result of his reading of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland books, Lennon repeatedly denied that the song had been intended as a drug song. During two interviews in June 1967, McCartney admitted to using the drug. A later statement by Lennon denied the song was about LSD. He claimed that it “was purely unconscious” that the title had a hidden reference to LSD.
“Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” was recorded by the Beatles in March 1967. A Lowrey organ part heavily processed with studio effects, as well as an Indian tambura drone, add to the song’s ethereal qualities. In the psychedelic genre, the song has been recognized as a key work. Among its many cover versions, a 1974 recording by Elton John – with a guest appearance by Lennon – was a number 1 hit in the US and Canada.
Meaning of “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”
The song is known for its surreal, vivid, and dreamlike imagery. The lyrics evoke a fantastical landscape with colorful and imaginative scenes. Many of the images are reminiscent of a psychedelic experience, which was a prominent cultural phenomenon during the 1960s.
The title of the song, with its initials spelling out “LSD,” led to speculation that the song was inspired by the drug lysergic acid diethylamide, commonly known as LSD. However, both Lennon and McCartney consistently maintained that the song’s inspiration came from a drawing by John Lennon’s young son, Julian. The drawing depicted a classmate named Lucy surrounded by stars. John Lennon was struck by the image and decided to incorporate it into a song.
The meaning of “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” is therefore open to interpretation. Some listeners might focus on the fantastical and dreamlike imagery, interpreting it as an invitation to explore imagination and creativity. Others may find deeper layers of meaning related to the psychedelic experiences of the era.
Ultimately, the song’s meaning is subjective, and it continues to be celebrated for its poetic and evocative lyrics, regardless of the initial controversy surrounding its title.
- John Lennon – double-tracked lead vocals, maracas, guitar
- Paul McCartney – harmony vocals, Lowrey organ, bass
- George Harrison – acoustic guitar, tambura, lead guitar
- Ringo Starr – drums
- George Martin – piano