The Beatles flirted with India for a while and it showed – in their facial hair, their clothes, their fascination for Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and spiritualism, and yes, their music. I list here nine songs by The Beatles, that were in some way influenced by India – either the composition itself or the instruments used or the song lyrics.

Across the Universe Does have Indian influences, specially Lennon’s chanting of “Jai Guru Deva” Sitar, Tanpura Hard to decode the lyrics but the “Jai Guru Deva, Om” indicates that the song is about the spiritual strength the Beatles gained from their association with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi
Norwegian Wood (The Bird Has Flown) Not sure about Indian influence on the composition but it’s hard to ignore the sitar Sitar No
Within You, Without You It is an Indian composition with no Western influence. George Harrison arranged the song with Indian musicians. No other Beatle was involved. Tanpura, Sarangi, Jal tarang, Tabla, Sitar Does not apply since this is an instrumental piece
Love You To Very strong Indian influence. George’s vocal sounds like Indian chants. Sitar, Tabla, Tanpura No
The Inner Light Could easily be a song from a Hindi movie of the ’60s Sarod, Pakhavaj, Sehnai, Sitar, Sarangi, Dholak, Harmonium No
Lucy in the sky with diamonds None A hint of Tanpura No
Sexy Sadie None None Sexy Sadie” equals “Maharishi Mahesh Yogi” in this song. The Beatles express their disappointment with Maharishi when he was accused of sexual misconduct with a female disciple (Mia Farrow?).
I Am The Walrus None None A part of lyric goes ‘Elementary penguin singing Hari Krishna’. Interesting trivia about the genesis of this line in this John Lennon interview
My Sweet Lord A hint of Indian chants in the chorus None George Harrisson expresses his love for Indian Gods. “Hare Krishna…” chorus. “Guru Brahma…” chorus.
India, India None Tabla Lennon asks India for spiritual enlightenment…and goes on to say that he knows he can’t get it here (the song was written in India) because he left his heart in England and he needs to go where his heart is.
Tomorrow Never Knows A tanpura drone plays throughout the song. A sitar-type guitar is mixed. There’s also a brief Carnatic-sounding violin in the mix. Tanpura, Sitar-style guitar No

The last two are not technically Beatles songs – “My Sweet Lord” is a George Harrison solo and “India, India” a John Lennon home recording released as a solo. They still belong in this list in my opinion.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s