Beatles: Across the Universe Meaning
Song Released: 1969
Covered By: Fiona Apple (1998)
Across the Universe Lyrics
endless rain into a paper cup
They slither while they pass they slip away
Across the universe
Pools of sorrow waves of joy
are drifting through my opened mind
Possessing and caressing me
Jai guru deva...
anonymous Dec 17th, 2005 12:03am report
JOHN 1980: "I was a bit more artsy-fartsy there. I was lying next to my first wife in bed, (song originally written in 1967) you know, and I was irritated. She must have been going on and on about something and she'd gone to sleep-- and I kept hearing these words over and over, flowing like an endless stream. I went downstairs and it turned into a sort of cosmic song rather than an irritated song-- rather than 'Why are you always mouthing off at me?' or whatever, right? ...and I've sat down and looked at it and said, 'Can I write another one with this meter?' It's so interesting. 'Words are flowing out like endless rain into a paper cup/ They slither while the pass, they slip away across the universe.' Such an extraordinary meter and I can never repeat it! It's not a matter of craftsmanship-- it wrote itself. It drove me out of bed. I didn't want to write it... and I couldn't get to sleep until I put it on paper... It's like being possessed-- like a psychic or a medium. The thing has to go down. It won't let you sleep, so you have to get up, make it into something, and then you're allowed to sleep. That's always in the middle of the night when you're half-awake or tired and your critical facilities are switched off."
Many people think "Jai Guru Deva Om" means "nothing's gonna change my world" because that is the following lyric.
In all actuality, a loose translation of "Jai Guru Deva Om" is "Thank you teacher," referencing the Guru Dev, the Maharishi's teacher. The "Om" is the sound of the universe settling.
anonymous Mar 24th, 2008 3:08pm report
Of course not everything you think is "trippy" when you are actually on drugs..i convinced myself on evening that justin timberlake specifically designed his music videos for people who did acid...
On the other hand, a lot of the beatles later songs made subtle and not-so-subtle references to drugs so its not that far-fetched to assume that the song is based on that idea.
In the 60's everything was about being free and expressing yourself and seeing the beauty in everything. the song was probably more about those themes than drugs specifically. many people chose to use drugs to experience the freedom and beauty of the 60's but many people didn't. I don't think the song is meant to revert specifically back to a "trip" but more to an experience of seeing beauty in the ordinary, however you do it.
Furthermore, as fun as acid and shrooms are, don't be stupid, they do not "open your mind" they cause a chemical reaction that makes your brain fire random signals that confuse your senses and in extreme cases cause realistic hallucinations. It is fun, funny, and mind-bending, but there is openness to truth in it. It is, by nature, a deception. so stop thinking you are so cool.
Jai (Praise to) Guru (followers of Yoga - One of several different Hindu philosophic methods of yoking [this is what yoga means - to yoke] the individual soul with the universal or cosmic soul that is God or the Holy Spirit (or both depending upon one's views). Followers of Yoga have a teacher or Guru (means teacher). The Beatles at one time studied Yoga under the Guru Maharishi in India. George in particular was influenced and remained a Hindu throughout his life, although I think he shifted from Yoga to mainstream Hinduism (where the people pray to God and meditate without a Guru. Deva means Godess. In particular the Mahadeva or Greatest Godess is Parvati (the female energy of the universe and of God almighty) Parvati is the wife of Shiva, both symbolize universal energy, inner peace, nature and aceticism. In short, John was being nagged by his wife who was annoyed with him. Rather than reacting to her emotions he withdrew into himself and decided not to allow his emotions or the negativity around him to control him and create conflict, but to let go of them and meditate instead on the peace that is within and without (George Harrison - Within you and without you) eternal and universal - The great soul, Holy Spirit, God Almighty, Love eternal or whatever you choose to call it. We can find it in ourselves, see it in others if we look for it, and connect to it if we give our hear sincerely to it. Thank you teacher Parvati for teaching me of how to be free of being controlled by life as it goes on around me.
Andreisdaman Mar 28th, 2013 3:19am report
As a married man it is easy to see what this song is about...John here is basically writing a song about ignoring his wife's constant nagging...instaed of focusing on what his wife is saying and the content of her arguments toward him, he is sitting there, ignoring her and just letting her words flow past him and out the window into the universe...meaning that it means nothing to him and her arguing is a waste of time because it's not going to change how he feels or what he does at all...sort of like how men continue reading the newspaper even when their wife is trying to engage them in a conversation they don't want to hear
anonymous Jun 20th, 2011 6:53pm report
It seems like, J.L. is in a completely different realm, and describing the most,unique, beautiful, and dramatic tale with him as the main character, also at the same time being influenced by Maharishi's teachings.
anonymous Jun 18th, 2011 6:15pm report
When the beatles were learning classical eastern sanskrit music in inda probably they must have learn this terms "Jai guru deva Om" it is a hindu religious term which refer as jai(great), guru(teacher), deva(lord) and Om(related to the lord shiva/inner peace)
anonymous Mar 24th, 2011 3:29pm report
The song is about the act of writing. He feels connected to the universe when he is involved in the act of writing, in his case a song. The words come out of him and literally escape into the universe where they go one forever. he is describing the trance-like state he is in when writing. I don't think drugs have anything to do with it. Haven't you ever created something and while you do it you are in touch with something deeper within yourself?
anonymous Dec 31st, 2010 12:59pm report
I think this song is about, him writing about how he feels, which is unknown, and the words going nowhere just out into space basically.Even though he's attempting to get relife it doesnt work, nothings ever gonna change his world. Writing down his feeling emotions, writing A new song, whateverhe's attempting to do to get rid of these bad feelings, its not working. nothings ever gonna change the world.
As JR1419 wrote on September 19th, 2009, "a loose translation of "Jai Guru Deva Om" is "Thank you teacher," referencing the Guru Dev, the Maharishi's teacher. The "Om" is the sound of the universe settling." Following this with, "Nothing's gonna change my world" suggests that Lennon, or the singer of the song is feeling at peace and has established a solid, unshakable peace of mind or state of mind that the world cannot alter.
Unfortunately, it would seem that five bullets to the body did cause a significant change.
Meanwhile, one of the many beauties of this song is the shifting meter, whereby Lennon adds an extra beat here and there to create occasional bars of 5/4, such as just before the second verse, beginning with 'Pools of sorrow". This phrase is balanced by the following one: "waves of joy", suggesting that an equilibrium is achieved between these two extreme and opposite emotions.
While engaging in creative rhyming, presenting things such as "possessing and caressing me", Lennon offers a rich harmonic variation by way of the IV minor6th chord under the phrase 'caressing me'. Here, he is simultaneously balancing minor vs. major, paralleling the emotional balance in the lyrics with harmonic balance in the chords.
It's all very balanced. I recommend the Fiona Apple version.
anonymous Oct 22nd, 2008 10:37pm report
I don't really have an interpretation, but I hate how a lot of people will probably immediately relate this songs to drugs, LSD, and all that.
anonymous Aug 25th, 2008 8:04am report
In my honest opinion, the song (aside from the spark that gave birth to it, I mean John's wife words) deals with the idea of "Unity". John just wants to talk to us that Brahman and Atman are the same, that all the different things we feel or see are, in fact, just one. The divine resides in us and in every little thing we can observe, in the sweet noise of the rain on in the sound of the wind in a letter box. John gets aware of that and wishes to thank his Guru.
anonymous Mar 13th, 2008 3:00pm report
Ok first off, I've done shrooms many many many times. and everything that you listen to or watch while on shrooms is about tripping and makes oh so much sense. I watched finding nemo on shrooms and thought it revealed some deep dark life secrets at the time lmao...but just because the song makes sense to people when they are tripping does NOT mean the song is about tripping or any psychedelic experience.
anonymous Feb 25th, 2008 2:31am report
The "Jaia guru deva om" line came from when John was meditating with monks. I don't know why he incorporated it into this song, but that is its origin. There are interviews explaining the rest if the song from what John had to say.
anonymous Jan 17th, 2008 1:40am report
The song is about the mind empty state, and I believe John was referencing TM when it was written, though there was certainly no shortage of tripping going on at the time. Ultimately, it doesn't matter whether you get to that state through meditation or drugs, the message is about the awareness one gains in that state.
More Beatles song meanings »
Submit Your Interpretation
Related Blog Posts
|Burn It Down||anonymous|
|Kill the Poor||anonymous|
|Never Too Late||anonymous|
|Lost in Paradise||anonymous|
|Fire and Fury||anonymous|
|Castles Made of Sand||anonymous|
|Saviors of the World||anonymous|
|This Summer's Gonna Hurt...||anonymous24|
|This Summer's Gonna Hurt...||anonymous24|