In 1967, the English pop and rock band The Beatles recorded the song “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.” This song sparked controversy because many believed that it was a reference to the drug LSD (a hallucinogen) due mainly to the initials that can be taken from the song’s title. John Lennon, who wrote the song, denied the reference during an interview with the US magazine Rolling Stone. Only recently, the identity of the real Lucy (Lucy Vodden) as Lennon’s inspiration for the song was revealed in several news items in light of her being gravely ill with the disease lupus.
The Beatles were often accused of putting drug references in their songs, although the members of the group claimed that they had not intentionally done so. Let’s have a look at these five songs:
1) “A Day in the Life” – This song was co-written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney. It was recorded in 1967 and is included in the album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. A line in the song that goes, “I’d love to turn you on,” was mentioned by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) as its reason for banning the song from British stations in June of 1967. According to the BBC, the line advocated the use of drugs. Also, the lines “found my way upstairs and had a smoke / and somebody spoke and I went into a dream” are believed to refer to drugs.
2) “Doctor Robert” – The Beatles recorded this song in 1966; it is included in the albums Revolver (in the U.K.) and Yesterday and Today (in the U.S.). John Lennon co-wrote this song with Paul McCartney. The song is believed to have a number of drug references, and one of these is the fact that drug dealers are often called “doctors.” The “Dr. Robert,” according to Lennon was himself, as he “was the one who carried all the pills on tour…in the early days.” This admission is contradicted, however, by the belief that the song referred to Dr. Robert Freymann, a German physician who is said to have supplied people with generous amounts of amphetamines (a CNS stimulant).
3) “Happiness is a Warm Gun” – A song written by John Lennon, it was recorded in 1968 and is included in the album The Beatles. One of the many different interpretations offered of the song is that the “Warm Gun” is an allusion to the well-documented problems of Lennon with heroin (an opiate or a physiologically addictive narcotic). The gun probably refers to a syringe loaded with the substance. Likewise, the line that goes, “I need a fix, ‘cuz I’m going down / Down to the bits I left uptown,” is believed to be a reference to the drug.
4) “I’m Only Sleeping” – Another John Lennon composition, recorded by The Beatles in 1966 and included in the albums Revolver (UK) and Yesterday and Today (US). Some dreamlike hints were added by the group to the song, including the sound of a yawn. It is widely believed that the hazy, disjointed mood expressed in the song implies a drug-induced condition rather than actual dreaming.
5) “Tomorrow Never Knows” – This song’s composition is solely credited to John Lennon. It was recorded by The Beatles in 1966 and was included in the album Revolver. According to George Harrison (a member and lead guitarist of The Beatles), John Lennon got the idea for the lyrics of the song from the book The Psychedelic Experience (by Timothy Leary, Richard Alpert, and Ralph Metzner). This book, in turn, was adapted from the Tibetan Book of the Dead. The general belief from this book was that the “ego death” experienced under an LSD-induced state, or the influence of some other psychedelic drugs, is akin to the dying process and requires similar guidance.
Additionally, the song “Got to Get You Into My Life,” which was written by Paul McCartney and recorded in 1966, was generally believed to be a love song that McCartney wrote for a girl. But in the book Paul McCartney: Many Years from Now (by Barry Miles), McCartney disclosed that the song was actually about marijuana, an intoxicating substance when smoked.
Sources: “List of The Beatles songs” (and all relevant links), Wikipedia – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_The_Beatles_songs