While Paul McCartney was the most well known member of the band to indulge in seemingly ethereal song concepts, John Lennon was also from time to time given to contribute his own musical visions. With Across The Universe Beatles fans were treated to a glimpse into Lennon’s creative process. In 1967, Lennon was inspired during an argument he had with his wife. While listening to her talking at him, rather than to him, the first line of ‘Across The Universe’ kept repeating in his mind: ‘words are flowing out like endless rain into a paper cup’. Whether this indicated the state of Lennon’s feelings regarding his marriage or was truly a transcendental moment the world will never know, but the line persisted in Lennon’s imagination and he began to search for music and verses to accompany it.
At the time, the Beatles were in their Indian guru / meditation phase, which accounts for the inclusion of the ‘Jai guru deva om’ mantra, spoken in Sanskrit in the chorus of the song. The song was somewhat hastily recorded prior to a trip to India, and Lennon was not satisfied with the results. It was shelved, and other tracks were released to tide the public over until the group could return from their vacation. He later groused that he felt McCartney had tried to steamroll the song through the studio, a glimpse of the impending breakup of the band due to constant inner squabbling. The song was remixed in order to be part of a charity release before it was properly packaged onto the ‘Let It Be’ album. It was one of the few contributions Lennon made during the recording sessions for that album.
Interestingly, the song has had a lasting impact on world culture long after its original release. In a film named Across The Universe Beatles songs and themes were used to tie together a rather loose plot. The film was more of a visual and musical exploration than a proper narrative. ‘Across The Universe’ also had the honor of being broadcast into space on X band radio raves by NASA in 2008. It was only the second time that a piece of music had been intentionally transmitted into deep space, although radio waves from all over the planet routinely bridge the gap between the stars. This was done in celebration of the 50th anniversary of NASA, and hopefully anyone out there on the receiving end will be converted into a Beatles fan.