The Beatles, the greatest and most influential band in the history of music, continue to fascinate and captivate their fans even after more than five decades of their breakup. One of the band’s mysterious yet intriguing songs that have always piqued fans’ curiosity is “Glass Onion.” What makes this song so special and enigmatic? Let’s delve deep into the world of “Glass Onion” and explore its history, meaning, and relevance to pop culture.
What is Glass Onion?
Origin and Meaning
“Glass Onion” is a song from The Beatles’ self-titled album, also known as “The White Album.” The song was written by John Lennon and credited to Lennon-McCartney as per their agreement. The origin of the title is often cited to be Lennon’s visit to Greece, where he heard the locals refer to something that had multiple layers as “like an onion.” He thought the phrase was intriguing and decided to use it as an inspiration for the song. “Glass Onion” is a term Lennon coined that means something that is transparent but has many layers beneath it.
The lyrics consist of various references to The Beatles’ previous songs, characters, and people in their lives. Lines such as “The Walrus was Paul” refer to the song “I Am The Walrus,” where McCartney plays the role of The Walrus. Since the song’s release in 1968, fans have attempted to decipher the meaning of every line and connect the dots between the references.
Relevance to Beatles Fans
For Beatles fans, “Glass Onion” is like a treasure trove of Easter eggs and insider jokes. It invites and encourages fans to read between the lines, connect the dots, and go on a musical scavenger hunt. It’s also a testament to the band’s playful and experimental nature, where they weren’t afraid to break the conventional norms and have fun with their craft.
Intertextuality in the White Album
“Glass Onion” is not the only song on “The White Album” that references another Beatles song. The entire album is a showcase of the band’s intertextuality, where they refer to their earlier works and incorporate them into their current songs. This interplay of their songs and themes adds layers of complexity and depth to their music, making it more than just a collection of songs but a cohesive and intricate literary work.
How Did Glass Onion Come to Be?
Writing and Recording Process
“Glass Onion” was recorded at Abbey Road Studios in September 1968, along with the rest of “The White Album.” The song features Lennon’s vocals and acoustic guitar, McCartney’s bass guitar, George Harrison’s lead guitar, and Ringo Starr’s drums. The song’s psychedelic sound and backwards effects were achieved by the band, along with producer George Martin’s expertise.
Influence of Lennon’s Personal Life
Lennon’s personal life and experiences were in turmoil during the making of “The White Album.” He was undergoing personal issues with his marriage to Cynthia Lennon, and his drug use was increasing. This turmoil and chaos are evident in the lyrics of “Glass Onion,” where Lennon seems to be questioning and revisiting his past experiences and people in his life.
Anecdotes and Stories Behind the Song
The recording process of “Glass Onion” was not without its share of funny and bizarre incidents. According to Miles Bron, the band’s personal assistant, Lennon asked him to peel an onion for the song’s recording. Bron obliged and handed him the peeled onion, but Lennon just threw it across the room and laughed. When Bron asked Lennon about it, he replied, “I just asked for a glass of water, and they brought me an onion.” This incident further adds to the song’s enigmatic and playful nature.
What is the Knives Out Mystery Connection?
Rian Johnson’s Inspiration from Glass Onion
One of the most unexpected connections to “Glass Onion” came in the form of the 2019 movie “Knives Out,” directed by Rian Johnson. Johnson, a self-proclaimed Beatles fan, took inspiration from “Glass Onion” to craft the movie’s central mystery and its detective character Benoit Blanc’s (Daniel Craig) quest to uncover it.
The Use of Glass Onion in Knives Out
The song features prominently in the movie’s end credits, and Johnson has revealed that it was the song’s playful and mysterious nature that inspired him to create the movie’s similar tone and mystery. He has even compared “Glass Onion” to Agatha Christie’s novels, where nothing is what it seems, and the clues are hidden in plain sight.
Mystery and Symbolism in the Song
The use of “Glass Onion” in “Knives Out” further emphasizes the song’s enigmatic nature and the mysteries that it holds. Just like in the song, the movie’s plot unfolds like an onion’s layers, each revealing something new and unexpected. The song’s use in the movie is proof of The Beatles’ everlasting legacy and their influence on pop culture.
Who are the People Behind Glass Onion?
Rian Johnson’s Interpretation
Rian Johnson’s love and admiration for The Beatles and their music are evident in his work, and his interpretation of “Glass Onion” is just one of the many examples. He has compared the song’s layers to the complex plotlines and characters in his movies, and his use of the song further solidifies its importance and relevance.
Janelle Monáe’s Cover Version
The song has also been covered by contemporary artists, including Janelle Monáe, who recorded a version for the 2019 documentary “The White Album” by the BBC. Her cover’s powerful rendition adds a new dimension to the song, highlighting its timeless nature and its impact on music.
Contributions of Daniel Craig and Edward Norton
“Knives Out” wouldn’t be complete without the talented actors who brought their characters to life. Daniel Craig, who played the eccentric detective Benoit Blanc, and Edward Norton, who played the famous mystery writer Harlan Thrombey, added their own nuances and quirks to the movie. Their inclusion in the movie further emphasizes The Beatles’ legacy and its impact on popular culture.
What Makes Glass Onion a Classic Beatles Song?
Lyrics and Music Analysis
“Glass Onion” is a perfect example of The Beatles’ ability to blend various musical genres and styles to create something unique and timeless. The song’s psychedelic sound, along with Lennon’s introspective lyrics and the band’s experimental approach to music, is what makes it a classic Beatles song. The song’s tempo, chord progression, and use of unusual musical effects make it stand out in their repertoire.
Impact on Pop Culture and Music Industry
“Glass Onion” has had a lasting impact on pop culture and the music industry, inspiring generations of artists to experiment and push their boundaries. The song’s influence can be heard in various contemporary artists’ music, and its timeless nature makes it just as relevant today as it was back then.
The Beatles’ Legacy and Importance
“Glass Onion,” along with the rest of The Beatles’ music, is a testament to their legacy and importance in the music industry. The band’s music and influence continue to inspire and captivate audiences worldwide, and their music’s impact will be felt for generations to come.