5 Beatles Songs Inspired by Indian Music

The Beatles‘ songs took inspiration from numerous genres, including reggae, psychedelic rock, vaudeville, and children’s music. In addition, they took quite a bit of inspiration from Indian classical music. Here’s a look at five of the best Fab Four song influenced by Indian music.

5. ‘Baby, You’re a Rich Man’
The South Asian sounds in “Baby, You’re a Rich Man” might be easy to miss upon first listen, but they’re part of the track. The book All We Are Saying: The Last Major Interview with John Lennon and Yoko Ono features an interview from 1980. In it, John was asked about “Baby, You’re a Rich Man.”

“That’s a combination of two separate pieces, Paul’s and mine, put together and forced into one song,” he said. “One half was all mine. ‘How does it feel to be one of the beautiful people, now that you know who you are, da da da da.’ Then Paul comes in with ‘Baby, you’re a rich man,’ which was a lick he had around.”

4. ‘Love You To’
The Beatles’ Revolver contains many famous songs, including “Yellow Submarine,” “Eleanor Rigby,” and “Got to Get You Into My Life.” “Love You To” doesn’t get nearly as much attention as the other tracks from Revolver. That’s a shame.

“Love You To” is a stirring call to seize the day. The riff makes the song work. George Harrison’s vocals could have been more energetic, given the subject matter, but perhaps he wanted to sound authoritative when he performed the song.

3. ‘Within You Without You’
With “Love Me To,” George took a common concept — carpe diem — and put it in an Indian context. In “Within You Without You,” he embraced both Indian music and spirituality. The lyrics of “Within You Without You” are basically a Hindu sermon on the interconnectedness of all things.

In All We Are Saying, John discussed his opinion of “Within You Without You.” “One of George’s best songs,” he opined. “One of my favorites of his, too. He’s clear on that song. His mind and his music are clear. There is his innate talent; he brought that sound together.”

2. ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’
Revolver is a fantastic album and its ending song — “Tomorrow Never Knows” — is really a beginning. “Tomorrow Never Knows” is a call for the listener to “surrender to the void” and embrace love as the spiritual center of the universe.

John does a good job of sounding otherworldly on “Tomorrow Never Knows.” It’s ironic he sang on this supernatural journey of a song only to decry religion in his later tracks “God” and “Imagine.”

1. ‘Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)’
Unlike other songs on this list, there’s nothing mystical about “Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown).” It’s just an amusing song about an affair, but it’s one of the best of its kind.

“Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)” doesn’t display the sonic sophistication of “Tomorrow Never Knows,” but it paved the way for it with its mix of Eastern and Western sounds. Without that willingness to experiment, The Beatles and the entire 1960s would have been far less interesting.

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