John Lennon was a man of many contradictions. On the one hand he hated people over analysing, and reading hidden meanings into, his songs. From intellectuals enraptured by his aeolian cadences, though 'Paul is Dead' stupidity, to the Manson Family's lethal interpretations. But on the other hand , for all his protestations, he was just as guilty as his audience - convincing himself that Hey Jude was REALLY about his love affair with Yoko rather than a song of comfort for his own abandoned son.
Arguably his attempts to ridicule and infuriate the obsessives DaVinci-coding their way through lyrics sheets only added more fuel to the fire. In Glass Onion, if you look closely, you can clearly see, not the Freemason's all seeing eye, but the Lennon's raised middle finger as he references five other Beatles songs - including one which references a song which references another song. Deep man!
1) Glass Onion - Strawberry Fields Forever
I told you about Strawberry Fields you know the place where nothing is real
Let me take you down 'cause I'm going to Strawberry Fields Nothing is real
2) Glass Onion - I Am The Walrus
I told you about the walrus and me/here's another clue for you all/the walrus is Paul
I am the egg-man, they are the egg-men, I am the walrus, goo goo a' joob
3) Glass Onion - Lady Madonna - I Am The Walrus – Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds
Lady Madonna trying to make ends meet
Lady Madonna, children at your feet/Wonder how you manage to make ends meet?
Lady Madonna - I Am The Walrus
Monday's child has learned to tie his bootlace/See how they run
See how they run like pigs from a gun
I Am The Walrus – Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds
See how they fly like Lucy in the sky
With your head in the clouds and you're gone/Lucy in the sky with diamonds
4) Glass Onion - Fool On The Hill
I told you about the fool on the hill
But the fool on the hill sees the sun going down
5) Glass Onion - Fixing A Hole
Fixing a hole in the ocean/Tryin' to make a dovetail joint
I'm fixing a hole where the rain gets in/And stops my mind from wandering
The song is another example of Lennon's trippy lyrical style aka 'stream of consciousness, free-association, psychedelic, nonsense literature, surrealism'. It's something that is often attributed to LSD use but was evident in his prose and poetry even from childhood. I think drugs receive far too much credit for inspiring the Beatles songwriting (something I plan to write about in more detail) - anyone who grew up on The Goon Show, Stanley Unwin & Lewis Carroll wouldn't need much chemical encouragement to bring the weird.
Like Happiness Is A Warm Gun most of the weird phrases are simply real life details made startlingly poetic. The bent back tulips were an unusual flower arrangements in a posh London restaurant called Parke's, a perfect place for 'seeing how the other half lives', a dovetail joint is something in carpentry (and a cheeky drug reference) and the Cast Iron Shore was a real place in Liverpool.
Next time we'll look at what Glass Onion does well from a songwriting point of view.