One song by The Beatles was inspired by George Harrison’s mind-altering LSD trip
George Harrison had found his feet by 1969 and had begun to shine through the shadow the songwriting partnership of Lennon-McCartney had cast over The Beatles. After meeting with Bob Dylan and The Band in 1968, Harrison was empowered to start writing in earnest and he drew from personal experiences for his inspiration.
It was a skill he had already begun to hone in 1967, as one of those personal experiences may not have been as relatable as some of Harrison’s other tracks. While he was certainly more keen as a songwriter to play around with spirituality than John Lennon or Paul McCartney on one Beatles song Harrison drew from a particularly intense LSD trip and the experience of coming back down to reality.
Harrison was starting to find his rhythm in regards to his songwriting when The Beatles sat down to put together the songs for Yellow Submarine, released in 1969 the album had a few happy-go-lucky songs—the title track alone feels like a nursery rhyme. But one was written in “a childlike manner”, back in 1967, for different reasons.
In his autobiography I, Me, Mine written in 1980, Harrison pointed to the Fab Four song ‘It’s All Too Much’ as being directly inspired by tripping on acid: “‘It’s All Too Much’ was written in a childlike manner from realisations that appeared during and after some LSD experiences and which were later confirmed in meditation.”
Speaking with Billboard in 1999, Harrison went in deeper on the track and expanded on his vision: “I just wanted to write a rock ‘n roll song about the whole psychedelic thing of the time— ‘Sail me on a silver sun/ Where I know that I am free/ Show me that I’m everywhere/ And get me home for tea.’ (laughs) Because you’d trip out, you see, on all this stuff, and then whoops! you’d just be back having your evening cup of tea!”
It was a unique feeling which is accurately captured in the song. Some Beatles aficionados have dismissed the song as aimless but it’s hard not to see it as the pinnacle of the acid-rock scene in Britain. Harrison first took acid along with John Lennon and their wives and has described the experience as “gaining hundreds of years of experience within twelve hours.”
Speaking with Billboard, Harrison shared his recollection of the recording process: “‘Your long blond hair/ And your eyes of blue’ –that was all just this big ending we had, going out. And as it was in those days, we had the horn players just play a bit of trumpet voluntarily, and so that’s how that ‘Prince Of Denmark’ bit was played (in the fade-out). And Paul and John just came up with and sang that lyric of ‘your eyes of blue.'”
Those ideas pre-date John Lennon’s use in ‘All You Need Is Love’, the song he wrote for the Our World television broadcast. It has therefore seen the songs paired up as sisters of the same family—The Beatles presenting their collective experience of drugs and their mind-expanding findings.
Listen to ‘It’s All Too Much’, George Harrison’s letter to LSD.