As fans of The Beatles celebrate the 50th anniversary of the band invading America with theirmop-topped hair and infectiously catchy melodies, we decided to take a deeper dive into their impressive discography.
Over the decades, the Fab Four’s songs have been unpacked and analyzed and accused of everything under the sun — far too many times to count. You can’t talk about “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds” without someone mentioning the LSD.
We called on our biggest Beatlemaniacs to debunk and decipher some of the references and hidden gems peppered throughout the years. Take a look and a listen.
Even though Frank Sinatra dubbed this the “best Lennon/McCartney love song” while covering it at his shows, this is actually one of the rare songs that George Harrison penned. As one of the most famous love songs, it was inspired not by Harrison’s model wife at the time, Pattie Boyd, but by Harrison attempting to capture Ray Charles’ bluesy tone.
2. “Hey Jude”
Paul McCartney was always very close to John Lennon’s first son, Julian. While Lennon was dealing with the divorce of his first wife, McCartney was inspired to write this song in an effort to cheer up Jules (changed to “Jude” for lyrical aesthetic) up. However, the elder Lennon felt the lyrics were also reaching out to him and his budding relationship with Yoko Ono.
Lennon lost his mother, Julia, while he was a teenager, and the trauma continued to haunt his creative endeavors throughout his life. This song from The Beatles (a.k.a. The White Album) is a much softer homage to his loss than his later recording, “Mother,” on his solo album John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band.
4. “Dear Prudence”
While studying with the Maharishi in India, many famous faces joined The Beatles. Among them were Mia Farrow and her sister Prudence, who was notoriously shy, which inspired this ode to helping her break out of her shell.
5. “A Day in the Life”
This multi-layered song contains several references in the lyrics. Lennon drew inspiration from the death of Tara Browne, would-be heiress to the Guinness brewery fortune, as well as Timothy Leary’s “tune in, turn on, drop out” pro-LSD motto with the line “I’d love to turn you on.” In the verse beginning, “I saw a film today, oh boy…”, Lennon is referencing his short-lived acting career and the movie flop he starred in, How I Won the War.
6. “Martha My Dear”
The ladies in McCartney’s life inspired several classic love songs, but his muse in this cheerful ditty was actually his gigantic, fluffy sheepdog named Martha.
7. “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds”
Since its release, Lennon and die-hard Beatles fans have battled the assumption that the lyrics and title were used as code for LSD. Lennon attests the song was inspired by an innocent nursery school drawing by his son, Julian. The “Lucy” in question was Lucy Vodden, 43, who was at nursery school in Weybridge with Julian and passed away in 2009.
8. “Doctor Robert”
Despite the LSD controversy around “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds,” The Beatles didn’t shy away from the subject of drugs in their songs. Many theories debate who the titular doctor in this song refers to: Lennon and Harrison’s dentist laced their coffee with LSD one evening without telling them; or Bob Dylan, who earlier introduced them to marijuana; or possibly an infamous New York “doctor” known as Dr. Feelgood, who supplied his patients with anything they asked for Lennon also sometimes claimed to be the inspiration himself.
9. “She Said She Said”
This song could have been titled “He Said He Said,” since the person who actually inspired this song was actor Peter Fonda. While most of the band (sans McCartney) partied in Los Angeles, Harrison became uneasy on a bad acid trip and felt like he was going to die. Fonda consoled him by saying, “I know what it’s like to be dead” and explained his childhood near-death experience. As a result, Lennon was inspired to pen this eerie tune.
10. “Savoy Truffle”
The lyrics for this Harrison number come straight from a box of chocolates. Legendary guitarist and Beatles friend Eric Clapton had a bit of a sweet tooth and, after being warned by his dentist to cut back, Harrison wrote this song as a joke, claiming Clapton would “have to get them all pulled out” if he continued to indulge.
11. “Baby You’re a Rich Man”
In this song, Lennon asks The Beatles’ longtime manager, Brian Epstein, “how does it feel to be one of the beautiful people” following the band’s ultra-success. Epstein was always known for enjoying the finer things in life and sadly died not long after the release of this single.
12. “You Never Give Me Your Money”
After Epstein’s passing, there were several issues with finding a replacement manager. The bandmates disagreed over who should be chosen for the job but eventually settled on Allen Klein, who also co-managed The Rolling Stones. This did not sit well with McCartney, who vented in this song his frustration with Klein’s mishandling of their money.
For the complete list got mashable.com