May 22, 2017

The Beatles - Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown) (1965)

In George Harrison’s autobiography, I Me Mine, Harrison mentions that although he played the sitar on “Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown),” adding the sitar to the song was more of an after-thought and the song hadn’t really been written with the sitar in mind. Regardless, the inclusion of the sitar (and The Beatles’ immense, global popularity at the time) resulted in widely introducing Indian instruments to all of Western society. After “Norwegian Wood” had been released on The Beatles’ Rubber Soul in 1965, Indian and other Eastern instruments soon started appearing in music by other mainstream acts such as The Byrds, The Rolling Stones, and Donovan. By the following year, “raga rock” was common and the inclusion of Eastern instruments remained popular until it eventually faded out of popularity in the very late 1960s.

The song below was credited to Lennon-McCartney, but the majority of the song is believed to have been written by John Lennon. The lyrics tell an autobiographical story of Lennon having an extra-marital affair behind the back of his then-wife Cynthia Lennon née Powell. When Paul McCartney was asked for his interpretation of the lyrics, he said that the Norwegian wood mentioned in the song was the wood paneling found on the walls of homes, which was popular at the time, and that the last line, “So, I lit a fire // Isn’t it good Norwegian wood?” indicated that the singer set the house on fire as an act of revenge.

album art

The Beatles - Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown) (1965)

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I once had a girl
Or should I say she once had me?
She showed me her room
Isn't it good Norwegian wood?

She asked me to stay
And she told me to sit anywhere
So I looked around
And I noticed there wasn't a chair

I sat on a rug, biding my time
Drinking her wine
We talked until two and then she said
“It’s time for bed”

She told me she worked in the morning
And started to laugh
I told her I didn't
And crawled off to sleep in the bath

And when I awoke I was alone
This bird had flown
So I lit a fire
Isn't it good Norwegian wood?

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