Were the songs written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney of The Beatles hidden drug references due to them living in the sixties and seventies when drug use was very common? The songs written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney of The Beatles are some of the best songs ever written, but to many people’s surprise The Beatles have hidden references to drugs like marijuana, acid, heroin, LSD (Lysergic acid diethylamide), and cocaine.
Both Paul McCartney and John Lennon have had problems with drugs throughout their lives with Paul McCartney actually being jailed in Japan when a half pound of marijuana was found in his luggage in the customs of an airport in Japan (BBC.
Beatles Drug Use). Songs like: Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, Got to get you in my Life, Day Tripper, Happiness is a Warm Gun, With a Little Help From my Friends, Helter Skelter and countless others all had supposed drug references. Both Paul McCartney and John Lennon who wrote most of The Beatles songs have both admitted to taking drugs.
McCartney has done heroin, cocaine and smoked marijuana and John Lennon took heroin, did cocaine and also smoked marijuana (BBC. Beatles Drug Use). Both had problems with drugs and both were arrested for marijuana related charges. John Lennon’s second wife, Yoko Ono, also had been charged with him for the same crime of possession of Marijuana (Times. John Lennon fined ?150 on drug charge). John Lennon was also an advocate for Marijuana. Some believe that was the reason for his murder (David Malmo-Levine. Was John Lennon Killed for his Pot Activism? . Paul McCartney was the first member of The Beatles to openly talk about taking LSD or acid even though he was reluctant to try it at first. The first to try LSD was John Lennon in his cup of coffee at a dinner party at the house of fellow band member George Harrison. George Harrison and John Lennon soon deliberately experimented with the drug and on one occasion they were joined by Ringo Starr (BBC. Beatles Drug Use). The Beatles manager, Brian Epstein, also had problems with drugs and he also died of a drug over dose.
The Beatles and everyone close to them have experimented with drugs which makes it easy to believe that The Beatles songs contained hidden drug references in them. A couple of The Beatles songs were banned by United States media as well as British media for advocating drug use or sexually explicit lyrics. One of the songs that were banned for drug advocacy was With a Little Help from my Friends (Beatles Bible. The Beatles and Drug Use). It was banned by the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) because they were believed to be about drugs.
Also A day in the life which talked about smoking and drinking while Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds had the obvious LSD drug reference in the title of the song were also banned (Deitz Corey. The Clear Channel Banned Songs List). The song Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds is said to have a very obvious drug reference due to the name. The three nouns in the title spell out LSD which is acid or a hallucinogen drug that causes open and closed eye visuals synaesthesia, and altered sense of time and spiritual experiences (Wikipedia contributors. Lysergic acid diethylamide).
John Lennon who wrote the song at first said it wasn’t a drug reference, and that he didn’t even notice that the three nouns together spell out LSD. He denied the drug reference by saying the song was titled Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds because his son came home from school one day with a painting and when John Lennon asked his son what it was a picture of, John Lennon’s son said, “It’s Lucy in the sky with diamonds. ” Lucy was a girl in his class. It was later revealed that the girls name was Lucy Vodden nee O’Donnell after she was dying of Lupus. She died in 2009 (Peter Wilkinson. Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds` Dies). The entire first verse of Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds sounds like someone is high on acid or another drug. The first few lines of the song are “Picture yourself in a boat on a river/ With tangerine trees and marmalade skies. / Somebody calls you, you answer quite slowly/ A girl with kaleidoscope eyes. ” (John Lennon) You have to be taking some kind of hallucinogen to see tangerine trees and marmalade skies. The whole first verse makes it seem that John Lennon was on some kind of drug while writing the lyrics.
The Kaleidoscope eyes could have been a result of the drug that the girl was taking. It’s a little hidden message that they were taking drugs while on the tug boat. In the second verse when the singer sings “Climb in the back with your head in the clouds/And you’re gone. ”(John Lennon) it is clearly a reference to getting high. When someone’s head is in the clouds that means they are high and being gone has the same meaning. So when John Lennon wrote the song he was writing about LSD high and not a girl in his Julian’s, his son, class (Shmoop Editorial Team. Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds Meaning).
With a little Help From my Friends written by the John Lennon and Paul McCartney combo contained explicit drug references and has been said to be about drugs. The song has a line in which Ringo Starr sings “I get high with a little help from my friends. ” He is clearly talking about getting high on some drug. It is also said that the word friends is a metaphor for drugs because John Lennon use to portray drugs while he wrote songs (Hippies and Drugs). It can also be said that when he was talking about love at first sight he is talking about his love for drugs after first using them.
Paul McCartney actually stated that this song had a drug reference because it was the pot era (Barry Miles). A Day in the Life was banned for its clear advocacy of drugs. The song has lyrics which talk about smoking, “Found my way upstairs and had a smoke” (Lennon and McCartney) and drinking “Found my way downstairs and drank a cup” (Lennon and McCartney). They could have been talking about smoking a cigarette and drinking a cup of tea, but them living in the sixties and seventies most likely were talking about alcohol and marijuana since drug use was very common back then.
In hidden context it also talks of going in to a dream or getting high “and somebody spoke and I went into a dream” (Lennon and McCartney). The going into a dream line isn’t as obvious which is like most of their other songs. However, this song isn’t like the drug use portrayed in other Beatles songs because the drug use is literal and straight forward in this song. McCartney also admitted that while writing the verse, “He blew his mind out in a car,” (Lennon and McCartney) he imagined a politician bombed out on drugs that didn’t notice the light change (Barry Miles).
They just say they are going to smoke and drink and don’t hide it in their songs by using metaphors or symbols saying they are high or about to take drugs. The Beatles sang in the sixties and seventies about drugs so of course they would talk about drugs in their music. It is obvious why it got banned they were clearly advocating drug use, but drug use was a very common thing among celebrities as well as common people. It was the thing to do if you were famous in the sixties and seventies. That’s what everyone did so that’s why they talked about.
Musicians try to relate to their audience and the easiest way to do that was talk about drugs. Even though advocating for drug use got them into some trouble in the end it was worth it. Their hidden drug references are a good thing and worked for them since they are the most well known band in the world and the best selling as well.
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