♫ Norwegian Wood ♫

I’m betting this is one you haven’t heard, or likely even thought of for a few years, at least.  I felt like dusting off something different tonight, and this was the first thing that popped into my head.

A bit of interesting history accompanies this one …

This was the first pop song to use a sitar – George Harrison played it. Harrison was new to the sitar and took many takes to get it right. He bought the instrument, which he described as “crummy,” and taught himself to play. It was David Crosby of The Byrds, and Crosby, Stills & Nash who had introduced Harrison to the sitar shortly after the folk musician Shawn Phillips had shown him the basic steps. A few months later, Harrison studied the sitar with Indian musician Ravi Shankar, who helped Harrison explore Eastern music and religion.

John Lennon, who wrote the song, explained why it was decided to use the sitar on this song …

“I think it was at the studio. George had just got the sitar and I said ‘Could you play this piece?’ We went through many different sort of versions of the song, it was never right and I was getting very angry about it, it wasn’t coming out like I said. They said, ‘Well just do it how you want to do it’ and I said, ‘Well I just want to do it like this.’ They let me go and I did the guitar very loudly into the mike and sang it at the same time and then George had the sitar and I asked him could he play the piece that I’d written, you know, dee diddley dee diddley dee, that bit, and he was not sure whether he could play it yet because he hadn’t done much on the sitar but he was willing to have a go, as is his wont, and he learned the bit and dubbed it on after. I think we did it in sections.”

Paul McCartney said he came up with the title, inspired by the Norwegian Wood furniture in the Asher household, where he was staying.

But the trivia I thought the most intriguing was what John Lennon said about the writing of the song …

“I was trying to write about an affair without letting my wife know I was having one. I was sort of writing from my experiences – girl’s flats, things like that. I was very careful and paranoid because I didn’t want my wife, Cyn, to know that there really was something going on outside of the household. I’d always had some kind of affairs going on, so I was trying to be sophisticated in writing about an affair, but in such a smoke-screen way that you couldn’t tell. But I can’t remember any specific woman it had to do with.”

Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)
The Beatles

I once had a girl
Or should I say she once had me
She showed me her room
Isn’t it good Norwegian wood?

She asked me to stay
And she told me to sit anywhere
So I looked around
And I noticed there wasn’t a chair

I sat on a rug biding my time
Drinking her wine
We talked until two and then she said
“It’s time for bed”

She told me she worked
In the morning and started to laugh
I told her I didn’t
And crawled off to sleep in the bath

And when I awoke I was alone
This bird had flown
So I lit a fire
Isn’t it good Norwegian wood?

Songwriters: John Lennon / Paul Mccartney
Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown) lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

27 thoughts on “♫ Norwegian Wood ♫

      • Haha! They add up quickly when you have albums. My parents were both music lovers (50’s) as were my sisters (60’s) and four sons who always keep me up to date with the best Indie music. Then there was hugh school (70’s) and who could pass up anything from the 80’s?

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  1. Reblogged this on It Is What It Is and commented:
    Love the song … learned the history about it; didn’t know!!
    ‘This was the first pop song to use a sitar – George Harrison played it. Harrison was new to the sitar and took many takes to get it right.’ … one of my favorite Beatles’ album!! AGAIN, GF!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. One of my favourite Beatles Tunes… Some others include ‘While my guitar Gently Weeps, ‘Octopus’ s Garden,’ and ‘Eleanor Rigby.’ My all time favourite though, is ‘Blackbird’ sung by Paul McCartney (also one of Stella McCarney’s favourites).

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  3. I have listened to Norwegian Wood in the past moth also. Rubber Soul is my favourite Beatles’ album, and while this song is not my album favourite it is right up there. George’s songs are always my favourites, I love his gentleness.

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    • I’m surprised by how many have listened to or been singing the song recently … I hadn’t heard it in years, and figured nobody else had either. I am a cultural outcast, though. I’m glad you enjoyed it … there is something about it that I love, but I can’t quite put my finger on it. Perhaps it is the sitar.

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      • Certainly not the story, at least I presume you would be upset to come home after a day at work to find your furniture broken and burnt. You give a guy your wine, your bed, and your body, and how does he repay you? It wasn’t your fault he was feeling guilty for cheating on his wife…
        Yup, must be the sitar…

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  4. It was in my head straight away, not one of my favourtie of their tunes, but the sitar made me recall this fantastic concert I watched on TV last year.
    ‘ In the mid-1960s a rising star of Western classical music met the ‘Godfather’ of the Indian classical tradition. The result was a collision of musical worlds and – some 25 years later – a studio album that combined Glass’s American Minimalism with Shankar’s sitar and the traditions of Hindustani classical music.

    A hypnotic flow of sound, blending cello, saxophone and other Western instruments with the glittering pulse of the sitar, Passages is presented here in its first complete live performance. The Britten Sinfonia and Karen Kamensek are joined by Shankar’s daughter, sitar virtuoso Anoushka Shankar
    Broadcast on BBC Four, 18 August’
    No wonder the Beatles were enraptured with Shankar’s sitar. His daughter is equally talented and sat elegantly on a mat looking gracefully beautiful.
    https://www.bbc.co.uk/events/e8c3d4

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  5. Jill, thanks for the background on this very intriguing song. I have always enjoyed the story in the song, although sleeping in the bath does not sound very comfortable. Keith

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks Keith! I’m glad you liked the song and its background, and I’m with you … sleeping in the bathtub doesn’t sound comfortable at all. But, perhaps when we were much younger it might not have seemed so bad. At my age, if I slept in he bathtub, it would require a can of WD40 to oil my joints and get me moving again!

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