NO ONE'S GONNA CHANGE OUR WORLD SRS 5013 (-69)
One night in 1967, the phrase "words are flowing out like endless rain into a paper cup" came to Lennon after hearing his then-wife Cynthia, according to Lennon, "going on and on about something." Later, after "she'd gone to sleep—and I kept hearing these words over and over, flowing like an endless stream," Lennon went downstairs and it turned into a song. He began to write the rest of the lyrics and when he was done, he went to bed and forgot about them.
In the morning, Lennon found the paper on which he had written the lyrics and took them down to his piano, where he began to play chords, and find pitches to match the words. The flavour of the song was heavily influenced by Lennon's and the Beatles' interest in Transcendental Meditation in late 1967 -- early 1968, when the song was composed. Based on this he added the mantra "Jai guru deva om" (Sanskrit: जय गुरुदेव ॐ) to the piece, which became the link to the chorus. The Sanskrit phrase is a sentence fragment whose words could have many meanings. Literally it approximates as "glory to the shining remover of darkness," and can be paraphrased as "Victory to God divine", "Hail to the divine guru", or the phrase commonly invoked by the late Maharishi Mahesh Yogi "All Glory to Guru Deva."
The song's lyrical structure is straightforward: three repetitions of a unit consisting of a verse, the line "Jai guru deva om" and the line "Nothing's gonna change my world" repeated four times. The lyrics are highly image-based, with abstract concepts with phrases like thoughts "meandering", words "slithering", and undying love "shining". The title phrase "across the universe" appears at intervals to finish lines, although it never cadences, always appearing as a rising figure, melodically unresolved.
In his 1970 interview with Rolling Stone, Lennon referred to the song as perhaps the best, most poetic lyric he ever wrote. He also expressed pride in the metre of the main verses, commenting on how unique it was to his compositions and how he could not duplicate it.
World Wildlife Fund version
In February 1968, the Beatles convened at the EMI Abbey Road studios to record a single for release during their absence on their forthcoming trip to India. Paul McCartney had written "Lady Madonna" and Lennon, "Across the Universe". Both tracks were recorded along with Lennon's "Hey Bulldog" and the vocal track for George's "The Inner Light" between the 3 and 11 of February.
Whilst the basic track was successfully recorded on 4 February, Lennon wasn't satisfied with the feel of the track. Several innovations were tried, including blowing through comb onto paper and humming to add texture to the track, and the addition of a pedal guitar and tambora. In the end, according to Lennon, McCartney persuaded Lennon to call in the services of Lizzie Bravo and Gayleen Pease, two of the so-called Apple scruffs (the female fans who collected outside the studio), to add harmony vocals.
The track was mixed to mono and put aside as the group had decided to release "Lady Madonna" and "The Inner Light" as the single. On their return from India the group set about recording the many songs they had written there, and "Across the Universe" remained on the shelf. In the autumn of 1968 the Beatles seriously considered releasing an EP including most of the songs for the Yellow Submarine album including "Across the Universe" and went as far as having the EP mastered. However, the recent trip to India had soured Lennon on transcendental meditation and eastern spiritualism, and the song's mantra-type refrain already seemed outdated. His more recent White Album contributions had an angrier, harder edge, reflective of his renewed personal assertiveness (which previously had been submerged with his heavy LSD use) and the growing political and social turmoil of 1968.
During the February 1968 recording sessions, Spike Milligan dropped into the studio and on hearing the song suggested the track would be ideal for release on a charity album he was organizing for the World Wildlife Fund. At some point in 1968 the Beatles agreed to this proposal. In January 1969 the best mono mix was remixed for the charity album. In keeping with the 'wildlife' theme of the album, sound effects of birds were added at the beginning and end of the track. The original (mono) mix from February 1968 is 3:37. After the effects were added the track was sped up; so that even with 20 seconds of effects the track is only 3:49. By October 1969 it was decided the track needed to be remixed into stereo. This was done by for the first time by George Martin immediately prior to the banding of the album. The song was first released in this version on the Regal Starline SRS 5013 album No One's Gonna Change Our World, in December 1969.