Across the Universe
Across the Universe is a composition by John Lennon appearing on the Beatles' last album, Let it Be. An earlier version was released in December of 1969 as part of a charity fundraising album with various groups and artists, called No One's Gonna Change Our World. John later recalled that he wrote the lyrics in 1967 after a difficult conversation with his wife, Cynthia, and he thought of words "flowing out like endless rain into a paper cup." He worked this phrase into a song and went to bed. The next day, he started with the chords and melody. The influence of the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and Transcendental Meditation led him to add a mantra to the song, leading from verses to chorus. The Maharishi meant by this mantra to convey "All glory to Guru Deva" (Jaiguru deva om), with the "om" representing the inherent sound of the universe according to Buddhist tradition. The song has three verses, linked by the mantra to a chorus that repeats "Nothing's gonna change my world" several times. The lyrics also reflect the abstract imagery that came to mark Lennon's later compositions, together with , rising melodic phrases that do not resolve to the tonic base. Personally, Lennon regarded it as his best lyric work, unique among all the songs he ever wrote. The song was recorded during Abbey Road sessions between February 3 and 11 of 1968, together with McCartney's Lady Madonna, Harrison's The Inner Light, and John's Hey Bulldog. This song was not used for any releases, and after returning from India, somewhat disillusioned by TM, Lennon did not push for publication. He agreed to release it as part of a charity album for the World Wildlife Fund, and the song was thus re-mixed in January of 1969. By December, the WWF album came out with a title reflecting John's chorus: No One's Gonna Change Our World.
The Beatles rehearsed Across the Universe throughout 1969 in the sessions for Get Back and Let it Be, and then was released in 1970 in a modified form on the Let it Be album. A very early take of the song from 1968, with heave tambura and sitar backing, appeared in 1996 on Anthology 2. In the Let it Be version, John sings lead and overdubs a harmony. He is also heard playing lead guitar and acoustic rhythm. Paul sings harmonies and plays the piano. George provides harmonies and plays sitar and tambura. Ringo plays maracas, and George Martin's Hammond organ can be heard as well. Two Beatles' groupies, Lizzie Bravo and Gayleen Peese, were recruited on the spot to provide backup vocals for the February, 1968 base track, and have been credited ever since. An orchestra and choir were added to the mix in 1970.
The song first appeared on a charity compilation called No One's Gonna Change Our World in December 1969.