No, 'Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds' is not about LSD
Alexandra Pollard

15:15 6th January 2016

"Did you know 'Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds' is about LSD? It's right there in the title." If some know-it-all ever says this to you at a party, you can gently put them right. It's not about LSD. It's about a painting done by John Lennon's son. So there.

'LITSWD' (as it's referred to by... no-one) isn't the only song that's frequently misinterpreted, or whose real meaning might have escaped you - no matter how many times you sing it at karaoke, blissfully unaware that you're singing about an evil super-rat, or a sex position, or a vampire love story (these are all genuine examples of songs in this gallery).

Here's 11 more. 

  • Michael Jackson - 'Ben': Michael Jackson didn't write this song, Don Black and Walter Scharf did, for the 1972 film of the same name. The Ben in question was, in fact, a rat. And not just any rat, a rat that's befriended by a young boy with a heart condition (hence the touching lyrics) and then turns evil and becomes an enormous super-rat.

  • Aerosmith - 'Walk This Way': Suffering from writer's block, the band decided to clear their heads and go to see the Mel Brooks film Young Frankenstein. In the film, Marty Feldman's character tells Gene Wilder to "walk this way" - hobbling down some steps with a stick before handing the stick to Wilder indicating that he, literally, walk in the same way. The band found the joke so funny, they decided to use the phrase as the starting point for a song.

  • The Beatles - 'Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds': This one's widely accepted, thanks to the band's love of LSD and the fact that its title is a sort-of acronym for LSD, to be about the hallucinogenic drug. It's not though. "I swear to God," said John Lennon, "I had no idea it spelled LSD. My son Julian came in one day with a picture he painted about a school friend of his named Lucy. He had sketched in some stars in the sky and called it 'Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds.' Simple." In case you needed more proof, here is said painting.

  • The Beatles - 'Blackbird': Another Beatles song whose meaning might come as a surprise - this one was inspired by the Civil Rights Movement in the US. "I got the idea of using a blackbird as a symbol for a black person," said Paul McCartney in 2008. "It wasn't necessarily a black 'bird', but it works that way, as much as then you called girls 'birds' ... it wasn't exactly an ornithology ditty; it was purely symbolic." I'm sure female Civil Rights campaigners will be delighted with being referred to as "black birds."

  • Bryan Adams - 'Summer Of '69': To be honest, you can probably see this one coming from a mile away, but here goes. Adams recently admitted that the '69 in question isn't so much the year (he would have been ten in 1969) but about the sexual position. "It's about making love in the summertime," he said. Alright Bry, we've heard enough.

  • Semisonic - 'Closing Time': Though it's used by pubs and bars throughout the land to alert punters of, well, closing time, this song was actually a metaphor for childbirth. "My wife and I were expecting our first kid very soon after I wrote that song," said Dan Wilson. The closing time metaphor, then, is "about being sent forth from the womb as if by a bouncer clearing out a bar."

  • Van Morrison - 'Brown Eyed Girl': The song was about an interracial relationship, and was originally called 'Brown-Skinned Girl'. The fact that it changed to 'Brown Eyed Girl', Morrison insists, was a simple mistake: "It just slipped my mind. After we'd recorded it, I looked at the tape box and didn't even notice that I'd changed the title. I looked at the box where I'd lain it down with my guitar and it said 'Brown Eyed Girl' on the tape box."

  • Bonnie Tyler - 'Total Eclipse Of The Heart': This sprawling ballad, which became one of the biggest songs of the '80s, was actually about vampires. "Its original title was 'Vampires in Love'", said writer Jim Steinman, "because I was working on a musical of Nosferatu, the other great vampire story."

  • Beastie Boys - '(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party!)': This song was actually intended as a deeply ironic parody of laddish, party-themed songs, but the irony was lost on many of the song's fans. "The only thing that upsets me," said Mike D, "is that we might have reinforced certain values of some people in our audience when our own values were actually totally different. There were tons of guys singing along who were oblivious to the fact it was a total goof on them."

  • Ed Sheeran - 'The A Team': The lyrics make it fairly clear if you pay attention, but it might have passed you by that 'The A Team' is about prostitution and cocaine addiction. It's littered with references to "pipes" and "grams", not to mention the line, "Long nights, strange men / And they say / She's in the Class A Team."

  • East 17 - 'Stay Another Day': The classic pop ballad, played every Christmas without fail, might have been framed to sound as though it's a love song, but it was actually written by Tony Mortimer about the death of his brother. As such, the pleading refrain, "Won't you stay another day?" becomes a million times more heartbreaking.


Photo: WENN