How David Bowie and John Lennon Remade a Beatles Classic

It appeared on Bowie's album "Young Americans"

David Bowie, Yoko Ono and John Lennon
David Bowie, Yoko Ono and John Lennon.
Ron Galella Collection via Getty

Over the course of his long career in music, David Bowie collaborated with a host of prodigiously talented musicians ranging from Nile Rodgers to Trent Reznor. The man had a knack for finding interesting cohorts to work with, including the jazz quartet heard on Blackstar and Brian Eno, with whom he collaborated on a trio of beloved records. There’s another name that stands out in the annals of Bowie collaborators: John Lennon, who worked with Bowie on 1975’s “Fame.”

That wasn’t his only time working with Bowie, however. The two also worked on a cover of The Beatles’ “Across the Universe,” which — like “Fame” — appeared on the album Young Americans. According to Bowie’s account of the recording process, covering a Beatles song with a Beatle along for the ride had its own challenges.

A new article in Far Out looked back on Bowie’s comments about the song and the process that led him to record it. According to one of the quotes cited from Bowie, he considered it “a flower power sort of thing John Lennon wrote.”

“I always thought it was fabulous, but very watery in the original, and I hammered the hell out of it,” Bowie added. “Not many people like it. I like it a lot and I think I sing very well at [the] end of it.”

In the same interview, Bowie had good things to say about his collaborator on the cover. “John [Lennon] just came and played on it,” Bowie said. “He was lovely.” And the result was a fine take on a beloved song.

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