- Paul McCartney said he added violent lyrics to The Beatles’ “Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown).”
- He explained the “bird” in the song.
- John Lennon’s memories of the song contradicted Paul’s.
The Beatles‘ “Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)” has one of the most unusual titles of any 1960s song. Years later, Paul McCartney explained the meaning of the title. In addition, he said he added a violent element to the track’s lyrics.
Paul McCartney said The Beatles’ ‘Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)’ is about arson
In the 1997 book Paul McCartney: Many Years From Now, Paul discussed the relationship between the man and the woman in “Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown).” “So she makes him sleep in the bath and then finally in the last verse, I had this idea to set [the the woman’s home] on fire as revenge, so we did it very tongue in cheek,” he recalled.
“She led him on, then said, ‘You’d better sleep in the bath,’” he continued. “In our world, the guy had to have some sort of revenge. It could have meant ‘I lit a fire to keep myself warm,’ and ‘Wasn’t the decor of her house wonderful?’”
Instead, the last lines of the song are supposed to imply the narrator committed arson to get revenge on the woman for not sleeping with him. Paul said the song transitions into an instrumental piece instead of making its violent ending clear.
Paul McCartney explained the title ‘Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)’
Paul explained the “bird” in the title. “It’s [John] trying to pull a bird, it was about an affair,” Paul said. For context, “bird” was British slang for a woman.
Paul discussed what John said about the track in retrospect. “John told Playboy that he hadn’t the faintest idea where the title came from but I do,” Paul said. “[Singer] Peter Asher had his room done out in wood, a lot of people were decorating their places in wood. Norwegian wood. It was pine really, cheap pine. But it’s not as good a title, ‘Cheap Pine,’ baby.”
The “Silly Love Songs” singer said John was behind 60% of the song, as he came up with its tune and concept. Meanwhile, Paul said he was behind the other 40% of the tune, as he added some lyrics, including the line about the narrator setting the woman’s home ablaze.
Years after The Beatles broke up, John Lennon said the song was entirely his work
The book All We Are Saying: The Last Major Interview with John Lennon and Yoko Ono features an interview with John and Yoko from 1980. In it, John was asked about “Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown).” He said the tune was entirely his work.
John made no mention of the song having violent, misogynistic elements. He said it was influenced by a real affair he had. Despite this, he couldn’t remember which woman inspired the track.
“Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)” is a song with an interesting title and some disturbing elements.