Glass Onion

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"Glass Onion"
Glass Onion sheet music cover.jpg
Cover of the Maclen Music sheet music
Song by the Beatles
from the album The Beatles
PublishedNorthern Songs
Released22 November 1968
Recorded11–13 September, 10 October 1968, EMI Studios, London
GenrePsychedelic rock[1]
Producer(s)George Martin

"Glass Onion" is a song by the Beatles from their 1968 double album The Beatles (also known as the "White Album") primarily written by John Lennon and credited to Lennon–McCartney. This is the first track on the album to feature Ringo Starr on drums. Starr briefly left the group during recording sessions for the album and was replaced on drums by Paul McCartney on both "Back in the U.S.S.R." and "Dear Prudence". The title, "Glass Onion", was a name suggested by Lennon for The Iveys, a group who signed to Apple in 1968 and later became Badfinger.[2]


The song was written to confuse people who "read in" to Beatles songs, searching for a hidden meaning. This annoyed John Lennon, as he said: "...some intellectual would read us, some symbolic youth generation wants to see something in it. We also took seriously some parts of the role, but I don't know what Helter Skelter has to do with knifing someone. I've never listened to it properly, it was just a noise." [3] With this in mind, lyrics are supposed to confuse the listener. Most lines refer to earlier Beatles songs, including "Strawberry Fields Forever", "I Am the Walrus", "Lady Madonna", "The Fool on the Hill", and "Fixing a Hole". The song also refers to the "Cast Iron Shore", a coastal area of south Liverpool known to local people as "The Cazzy".[4]

The song's "the Walrus was Paul" lyric is both a reference to "I Am the Walrus" and Lennon saying "something nice to Paul" in response to changes in their relationship at that time.[5] Later, the line was interpreted as a "clue" in the "Paul is dead" urban legend that alleged McCartney died in 1966 during the recording of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band and was replaced by a look-alike and sound-alike. The line is preceded with "Well, here's another clue for you all".

Lennon himself dismissed any deep meaning to the mysterious lyrics:

I threw the line in—"the Walrus was Paul"—just to confuse everybody a bit more. It could have been "The fox terrier is Paul." I mean, it's just a bit of poetry. I was having a laugh because there'd been so much gobbledygook about Pepper—play it backwards and you stand on your head and all that.[6]


The song was one of several recorded as a demo at George Harrison's Esher home in 1968 before the recording sessions for the "White Album".[2] The Esher demo was first released on Anthology 3 (1996) and the 2018 Super deluxe edition of the "White Album".[2][7] Anthology 3 also included an alternate version, of which contained various sound effects rather than the string arrangement.[2]

Cover versions[edit]

When Mojo released The White Album Recovered in 2008, part of a continuing series of CDs of Beatles albums covered track-by-track by modern artists, "Glass Onion" was covered by Big Linda.[8]


Personnel per Ian MacDonald[9]


  1. ^ Jim DeRogatis, Greg Kot. The Beatles vs. The Rolling Stones: Sound Opinions on the Great Rock 'n' Roll Rivalry. p. 79.
  2. ^ a b c d ""Glass Onion"". Beatles Bible. Retrieved 8 December 2018.
  3. ^
  4. ^ allertonOak 2009.
  5. ^ Wenner 2000, p. 87.
  6. ^ The Beatles 2000, p. 306.
  7. ^ "The Beatles (White Album) – The Tracklisting". Retrieved 8 December 2018.
  8. ^ "The White Album Recovered 1 – Track Listing – Mojo Cover CDs – The Definitive List". Archived from the original on 2 February 2014.
  9. ^ MacDonald 2005, pp. 311–14.


External links[edit]