Song: “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds” by Elton John
Reached #1: January 4, 1975 (his third, 2 weeks)
Elton John’s Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy album was probably the first album I played to death in my youth. But in 1975, I wouldn’t have found Elton’s cover of the Beatles’ “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds” on it – although if you get the album now, you will. The song was actually issued as a stand-alone single, and was grafted onto Captain Fantastic in a 1995 reissue.
With the obvious acronym (“LSD”) in the song title, everyone assumed this was a “drug song” when it appeared on the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album – the fact that Pepper was made under the influence of all kinds of substances may have had something to do with that. Over the years, the Beatles have both denied and admitted that the song was indeed a reference to LSD. While you probably know that John Lennon said the inspiration was his son Julian’s drawing of a classmate named Lucy, a few years ago Paul McCartney said that along with “Day Tripper”, they really did mean the drug inferences in both songs. Julian Lennon’s classmate really did exist – Lucy O’Donnell Vodden, who passed away in 2009 – but it’s not totally clear now whether the drawing was the inspiration, or became the “inspiration” later.
There’s also a famous parody/tribute… but we’ll be getting to THAT song later in January.
Unfortunately, you’ll probably never see Elton John do this song in concert again. He’s said it’s too painful a reminder of John Lennon for him to face – since the song was not only written by Lennon, but Lennon and Elton did a duet of the song at Madison Square Garden at Thanksgiving 1974, a time where Lennon had all but left the music business.
Tomorrow, we jump back to the aughts. See you then.
Other songs that reached #1 on January 4:
1960 – Marty Robbins, “El Paso” (his first, 2 weeks)
1964 – Bobby Vinton, “There! I’ve Said It Again” (his third, 4 weeks)