Been away for a while and will probably be away for a while longer, but I have a brief window to advance this now-glacial series a little further. So then, Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds:
William Shatner’s version, given a little extra ‘treatment’ for the YouTube generation by videoist Paul Heriot. I remember Lee and Herring describing this as Shatner believing that he had to be on LSD in order to sing the song, and Heriot certainly seems to be running with that ball (and also the Star Elephant that will forever be in any room Shatner inhabits). Personally, I love Shatner’s vocals and I think this might be the perfect song for his somewhat unique stylings… but this is a series about Beatles Rock Band and not Shatner Session Band so we’ll move on.
According to the factoids, this is not about drugs. It’s in fact about a child’s drawing, which just happened through a cosmic coincidence to refer to Lucy being in a Sky with some Diamonds, which spells LSD. Which is a drug. Obviously some people might draw a link there but not Harmonix. They point up the Beatlebots’ sobriety by having their sleepy, chortling, hippy-moustached faces lit up with pink, the colour of innocence, before they ‘come up’ on something – up into SPACE, on a TELEPORTATION BEAM, of course! No wonder Johnbot is screaming AAAAAAHHH he is plunging into a wormhole. Obviously this interstellar jaunt, during which the Beatles sing merrily about things growing ‘incredibly high’, represents a straight-laced career in the astronaut field, astronauts being kept on a tight rein and not allowed to stuff their faces with blotting paper.
Bravo, Beatles Rock Band! Say no to drugs!
(Although if you were out of your head on something you’d likely have no problem here as this is one of the easiest tracks in the entire game. Difficulty is zero or close to it across the board, so much so that my guitar ran out of batteries in the last verse and stopped working, and I still finished it with four stars. Is this a case of Harmonix tailoring the difficulty for the potential audience of stoners? Surely not.)
So anyway, some people think this song might be about drugs and the video would, to be fair, probably not disillusion them.
If anything, this video seems restrained to me, though. I’ve never taken LSD myself, and I don’t think I’d even heard of it when I first heard this song, so I took it completely at face value – as a disturbing dream/nightmare landscape where the singer seemed to be trapped without hope of escape, following/being followed by a girl whose eyes have been replaced by multifaceted lenses filled with bits of coloured paper and glass. The whole thing seemed at the time to ring with the dream logic of books like the Phantom Tollbooth or the Magician’s Nephew or the Oz books or Roald Dahl, or TV series like the Box Of Delights or the Magic Roundabout. A lot of kid’s TV and fiction was of that nature as I was growing up – filled with the idea that there were other worlds close to this one, and the wrong step could take you into them. Mr. Benn had his costume shop, Conrad walks through a wardrobe on the 35th of May, the celebrities on The Adventure Game take the wrong path and end up floating in the void, Turlough enters the TARDIS, John Lennon traps you in his world for the length of a song.
Listening to this, I would obediently picture it in my head, imagining something strange and colourful, dangerous, with rules I understood even less than those of the ‘real’ world – a world extrapolated from the cover of the album, rich and strange, a magical world I could almost see. Part of me was thinking I’d get something like that from the Rock Band video, a way back into that experience especially after the Pepperland vibe of the last one, and the mystery march of monsters in the intro sequence. Instead… well, these things are never just handed to you on a plate.
We got a starfield.
Well, all those old kids shows were on drugs anyway, right? Jimmy Carr said so! That reading of things is well funny ‘cos drugs are funny, yeah? They’ve been funny since I was 14 and they’re funnier than ever! Thank you Jimmy Carr! Plus it lets us call all these old things that don’t fit in cool in a kind of ironic way that doesn’t need us to look into ourselves and realise that we’ve lost something essential and indefinable, some way of looking at things, and we don’t know where it’s gone or how to get it back and we’re stuck like this. And that’s mint and that.
I mean, drugs, right? Will Shatner must have been off his face!
NEXT: Getting better, although not getting better at putting these out in a regular fashion.