“Glass Onion” by The Beatles
These days it’s somewhat common for songs to be overanalyzed, especially if it’s one with obscure lyrics that comes to us via an artist who is undeniably an A-lister. That’s sorta understandable considering that we’re living in the Information Age, being privy to more facts, theories and gossip about celebrities than ever before.
But even prior to the internet, such practices existed. In fact it can be said that music-based conspiracy theories (if you will) as we know them today actually began with The Beatles.
That was an aspect of their massive celebrity that the Fab Four were well aware of. But The Beatles – and John Lennon in particular – didn’t agree with listeners trying to derive meanings from their songs which weren’t actually there.
So one of his responses to that phenomena was penning “Glass Onion”. This is a track whose title itself may read deep but in actuality doesn’t appear to mean anything. But that said, of course some people still proceeded to read too deeply into this piece nonetheless.
Part of that is The Beatles’ own fault, as in this song they utilized their standard folklorish writing style. In other words the lyrics are presented as a narrative, as if John Lennon is relaying a tangible story.
But what has been definitively ascertained is that he’s basically playing with the heads of listeners. He is actually sending the over-analysts down the road to nowhere, since there’s not any type of coherent storyline going on here.
“Glass Onion” is a Shoutout Song
If anything, “Glass Onion” is more along the lines of what we may call a shoutout song. The Fab Four is essentially using the opportunity to cleverly namedrop a handful of their previous outings. Amongst those is the classic “Strawberry Fields Forever“. The lyrics also namedrop another song The Beatles put out in 1967, “I Am the Walrus“.
The interesting thing about it is that the latter was also written for the purpose of basically mocking listeners who took the band too seriously.
So all things considered, engaging in a bit of in-depth analysis ourselves, if “looking through a glass onion” is meant to be symbolic of anything, it would probably be akin to attempting to analyze, say a work of art like a song for instance, through one’s own self-prescribed perspective as opposed to that of its actual creator.
Song’s Date of Release
“Glass Onion” is a relatively-unknown Beatles’ track song on the Fab Four’s LP titled The Beatles, which some readers may alternatively recognize as being referred to as “The White Album”. This is a project which Apple Records made public on 22 November 1968. It stands as the only double album in The Beatles’ discography. And out of the 30 tracks found on this effort in total, “Glass Onion” appears as the third on its playlist.
Credits for “Glass Onion”
It is understood that this song was written primarily by John Lennon (1940-1980). However, Lennon-McCartney, i.e. a composite of Lennon and his bandmate at the time, Paul McCartney, is also credited as such.
Its producer was one of The Beatles’ most regular collaborators in the late George Martin (1926-2016).
All four Beatles participated on this track. John Lennon holding down the vocals. Paul McCartney played bass and piano. George Harrison (1943-2001) acted as lead guitarist. Ringo Starr rendered the drums and tambourine.
“Glass Onion” is not generally considered as a Beatles’ classic. However, it was the beneficiary of renewed interest in late 2022. This was after a movie starring Danielle Craig came out called “Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery”.
Other Interesting Facts
The aforenoted Apple Records is a label the Fab Four founded themselves in 1968, which technically is still extant to this day. Throughout the decades, the most-prominent act to actually emerge from this initiative would arguably be Badfinger, a group of The Beatles’ contemporaries from Wales. Originally they were known as The Iveys, and when in late 1969 it was decided that the group needed a name change, amongst those suggested was “The Glass Onion”.
As some readers may know, Jay-Z came out with his own “The Black Album” in 2003. The following year prominent behind-the-scenes’ musician Danger Mouse decided to remix it by combining songs from that LP with those from “The White Album”. At the end of the day, he named the project “The Grey Album”. In that regard, “Glass Onion”, alongside “Savoy Truffle”, another song from The Beatles, was mashed up with Jigga’s “Encore”.
Besides “Strawberry Fields Forever” and “I Am the Walrus”, the other Beatles’ tracks referenced in this song are:
- “Lady Madonna” (1968)
- “The Fool on the Hill” (1967)
- “Fixing a Hole” (1967)