There was a mixing session today at EMI Studios for the version of “Across the Universe” that The Beatles had agreed to contribute to a benefit album for the World Wildlife Fund. George Martin and engineer Jeff Jarratt did the honors; in 1970 the song would be mixed again, very differently, by Phil Spector for the Let It Be album.

John always complained that The Beatles didn’t do the song justice, accusing Paul of subconscious sabotage.

It was a lousy track of a great song and I was so disappointed by it…. The guitars are out of tune and I’m singing out of tune ’cause I’m psychologically destroyed and nobody’s supporting me or helping me with it and the song was never done properly.

When David Bowie recorded “Across the Universe” in 1975, John — who contributed vocals and guitar — was one of the few who had nice things to say. “I thought, great,” he said, “because I’d never done a good version of that song. It’s one of my favourite songs, but I didn’t like my version of it.”

John is entitled to his opinion, but I think he was being hyper-self-critical. The extant versions of “AtU” may not be perfect, but they’re still great. Said Mr. Bowie: “It’s a portrait of the spiritual heart of where Lennon was at, really, the portrait of a spiritually confused but incredibly philanthropic man. Just a spectacular mind at work there.”

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