bernard king: 50
quakes 2013

music friday: the beatles, "across the universe"

I know a few regular readers out there are big Beatles fans, so I’m hoping in the comments I’ll learn something about this song. It has a lovely melody and a beautiful vocal by John. It gently evokes a mystical, even psychedelic vision: “images of broken light” and “limitless undying love … call me on and on across the universe”. I hear this as a movement towards … everything moves “on and on across the universe”, and the singer is at one with that movement and that universe. For me, the movement implies change, a new understanding of the universe that requires leaving behind the past.

Which is why I’ve never understood the chorus: “Nothing’s gonna change my world”. It is sung in the same gentle voice as the rest of the song, but the words sound like they come from an old guy who insists on living in the past. The universe is calling, but nothing’s gonna change his world.

Like I say, if someone out there can explain how the chorus fits, I’d be very interested in your take.

The song was released twice by the Beatles during their time together. The first turned up on an anthology put together for the World Wildlife Fund … it included backup singing by a couple of girls who were big Beatles fans:

Later, the best-known version, from Let It Be, this time with the assistance of Phil Spector:

Then, 25 years after their breakup, another version appeared on Anthology 2:

And finally, after another decade, came the “Naked” version:

And, just because, here’s a cover version: