Song facts: Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)

On October 12th 1965, The Beatles recorded a new song Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown) for their forthcoming Rubber Soul album. At this same session the band also recorded and completed Run for Your Life in five takes; another John Lennon song which appears at the end of Rubber Soul.

Norwegian Wood was the first Beatles' song to feature an Indian instrument. George Harrison became interested in the sitar while the Beatles were filming Help! - after hearing a group of session musicians playing a medley of Beatles' songs on sitar, this sparked his love affair with the complex Indian instrument.

Influence

Norwegian Wood is largely seen as a populariser of Indian classical music among influential western '60s artists like: Donovan, the Byrds and the Rolling Stones, who soon incorporated elements of Indian classical music into their songs. 

 Personnel - Norwegian Wood

  • John Lennon – double-tracked vocal, acoustic guitar
  • Paul McCartney – bass guitar, harmony vocal
  • George Harrison – 12-string acoustic guitar, double-tracked sitar
  • Ringo Starr – tambourine, maracas, bass drum, finger cymbals

Personnel - Run for Your Life

  • John Lennon – vocal, acoustic 12-string guitar, slide guitar
  • Paul McCartney – harmony vocal, bass
  • George Harrison – harmony vocal, lead guitar
  • Ringo Starr – drums, tambourine
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John and Cynthia Lennon in the Swiss Alps, January 1965. 

John and Cynthia Lennon in the Swiss Alps, January 1965. 

John Lennon, 1965. 

John Lennon, 1965. 

Origins

Norwegian Wood was written by John Lennon while on holiday in the Swiss Alps, with his wife Cynthia and producer George Martin. Martin broke his foot on January 26th 1965 and recalled John playing an early version of the song on guitar that same day.

"Norwegian Wood is my song completely. It was about an affair I was having. 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, 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." - John Lennon
John Lennon recording vocals, 1965. 

John Lennon recording vocals, 1965.