- Published on 1966
- Author: Lennon/McCartney
- Track 7 on “Revolver“
JOHN 1968: “That was pure. You see, when I wrote that I had the ‘She said she said,’ but it was just meaning nothing. It was just vaguely to do with someone who had said something like he knew what it was like to be dead, and then it was just a sound. And then I wanted a middle-eight. The beginning had been around for days and days and so I wrote the first thing that came into my head and it was ‘When I was a boy,’ in a different beat, but it was real because it just happened.”
JOHN 1980: “That’s mine. It’s an interesting track. The guitars are great on it. That was written after an acid trip in L.A. during a break in the Beatles tour where we were having fun with the Byrds and lots of girls. Peter Fonda came in when we were on acid and he kept coming up to me and sitting next to me and whispering, ‘I know what it’s like to be dead.’ He was describing an acid trip he’d been on. We didn’t ‘want’ to hear about that. We were on an acid trip and the sun was shining and the girls were dancing, and the whole thing was beautiful and Sixties, and this guy– who I really didn’t know– he hadn’t made ‘Easy Rider’ or anything… kept coming over, wearing shades, saying, ‘I know what it’s like to be dead,’ and we kept leaving him because he was so boring! And I used it for the song, but I changed it to ‘she’ instead of ‘he.’ It was scary… I don’t want to know what it’s like to be dead!”
About “She Said She Said”
“She Said She Said”, credited to Lennon–McCartney, it was written by John Lennon with assistance from George Harrison. John Lennon described it as an “acidy song” with lyrics inspired by actor Peter Fonda’s comments during an LSD trip with the Beatles and the Byrds in August 1965. “She Said She Said” was the last track recorded for Revolver. Paul McCartney left the recording studio during the recording of the song after an argument over the song’s musical arrangement.
Lennon began working on “She Said She Said” in March 1966, just before the Beatles began recording Revolver. The song was recorded on acoustic guitar and titled “He Said” on his home recordings at the time. As a result of the Fonda episode, Lennon revised the song to use the pronoun ‘she’ instead of ‘he’.
Harrison remembered helping Lennon construct the song from “maybe three” parts. The process was described as “a real weld” by Harrison. In his 2017 book Who Wrote the Beatle Songs?, Todd Compton points out that Harrison and Lennon composed the songs.
Meaning of “She Said She Said”
The meaning of “She Said She Said” is somewhat elusive and has been subject to various interpretations. It is said to have been inspired by an actual conversation that John Lennon had with actor Peter Fonda during an acid trip in 1965. Fonda repeatedly stated, “I know what it’s like to be dead,” based on a near-death experience he had. This conversation deeply affected Lennon and played a significant role in shaping the song’s lyrics.
The song delves into existential reflection, touching on themes of mortality and the mysteries of existence. The recurring line “I know what it’s like to be dead” can be viewed as a contemplation on life, death, and experiences beyond our comprehension.
Given the song’s genesis during a period of intense experimentation with psychedelic drugs, its lyrics adopt a surreal and somewhat disjointed quality. This may reflect the altered states of consciousness often associated with psychedelic experiences. The repetitive, looping structure of the song’s melody and lyrics could be a manifestation of this influence.
Some interpretations suggest that “She Said She Said” also serves as a window into Lennon’s own inner struggles and conflicts. The lyrics convey a sense of confusion and unease, potentially mirroring the personal challenges Lennon was facing at the time.
Moreover, the title itself, “She Said She Said,” implies a conversation or exchange of words. The song may touch on the breakdown or difficulty in communication between individuals, possibly echoing Lennon’s feelings about the conversation with Peter Fonda.
In essence, “She Said She Said” stands as a complex and enigmatic song, open to a wide range of interpretations. Its evocative lyrics, combined with the distinctive musical arrangement, solidify it as a standout track on the “Revolver” album and a captivating piece in The Beatles’ repertoire.
- John Lennon – lead and harmony vocals, rhythm guitar, Hammond organ
- Paul McCartney – bass guitar
- George Harrison – harmony vocal, lead guitar
- Ringo Starr – drums