In the last entry, I noted that “Got to Get You Into My Life” made an impressive jump on my ranking, but now we get to the exact opposite. Had I done this countdown 15 years ago, “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” would have been a clear-cut top 50 entry. And let’s be clear; it’s a great song. But what was intriguing imagery to my younger self now seems like a bunch of random gibberish. I almost feel like I would prefer it as an instrumental. Maybe hang on to the Lennon/McCartney harmonies in the chorus, but I don’t know that I would miss the rocking horse people and newspaper taxis if they were excised.
The elephant in the room with this song is its title, inspired by a Julian Lennon drawing, who was all of three years old when the Beatles recorded it. You don’t have to be Timothy Leary to realize that the most prominent words abbreviate to LSD, or as my 8th grade science teacher put it, “Who wants some lysergic acid diethylamide?” before she jumped out a window chasing an invisible bat.
We should have known something was up on the first day of class when she excitedly asked us, “Hey kids, wanna see a dead body?”
Of course, John denied any connection to the drug, which he had used for the first time the year prior. To quote another teacher of mine, the great Mr. Lim Peacock, “I don’t condone using drugs, but I’d hate to imagine my record collection without them.” I find it difficult to imagine John Lennon writing songs like this or “I Am the Walrus” without some sort of artificial influence, and if you told a Beatles fan in 1964 that three years later they would release a song called “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,” it would probably be a tricky sell. Then again, if you told a Beatles fan in 1967 that 52 years later I would be writing a blog about this song, they would have said, “What is a blog? And who is Anthony Cusumano?” Both great questions that have yet to be answered.