Cover of the Maclen Music sheet music
|Song by the Beatles|
|from the album The Beatles|
|Released||22 November 1968|
|Recorded||11–13 September & 10 October 1968|
|Studio||EMI Studios, London|
"Glass Onion" is a song by the English rock band the Beatles from their 1968 double album The Beatles (also known as the "White Album"). The song was written primarily 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.
Lennon wrote the song to confuse people who "read in" to Beatles songs, searching for a hidden meaning, which annoyed him. "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." With this in mind, the lyrics are intended 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". Lennon 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.
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". The Esher demo was first released on Anthology 3 (1996) and the 2018 deluxe edition of the "White Album". Anthology 3 also included an alternate version which contained various sound effects rather than the string arrangement.
Coinciding with the 50th anniversary of its release, Jacob Stolworthy of The Independent listed "Glass Onion" at number 10 in his ranking of the White Album's 30 tracks. He wrote of the song: "Lennon embraced his cheeky side with "Glass Onion", a self-referential track which parades as symbolic. Instead, it was designed to trick fans into thinking their songs meant more than they actually do."
- John Lennon – double-tracked vocals, acoustic guitar
- Paul McCartney – bass guitar, piano, recorder
- George Harrison – lead guitar
- Ringo Starr – drums, tambourine
- George Martin – string arrangement including:
Mike Watt and Sonic Youth (without Thurston Moore), renamed as "Lucky Sperms", covered the song on their 1991 single LUCKY SPERMS - "WALKING THE COW/TOMORROW NEVER KNOWS", recorded January 19th, 1987 at Fun City, and released by Ecstatic Peace! label.
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