"Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" is a song credited to Lennon–McCartney that appears on the Beatles' 1967 album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. It was started by John Lennon, then Paul McCartney contributed to it in a songwriting session. Lennon's son Julian inspired the song with a nursery school drawing he called "Lucy—in the sky with diamonds". Shortly after the song's release, speculation arose that the first letter of each of the title nouns intentionally spelled "LSD". Lennon consistently denied this, insisting the song's fantastical imagery was inspired by Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland books, a claim repeatedly confirmed by Paul McCartney.
Despite persistent rumours, the song was never officially banned by the BBC, and aired contemporaneously on BBC Radio at least once, on 20 May 1967.
According to both Lennon and Ringo Starr, who witnessed the moment, Julian first uttered the song's title upon returning home from nursery school. Lennon later recalled of the painting and the phrase, "I thought that [it was] beautiful. I immediately wrote a song about it."
Lewis Carroll, and the title of Julian's drawing reminded him of the "Which Dreamed it?" chapter of Through the Looking Glass in which Alice floats in a "boat beneath a sunny sky":
It was Alice in the boat. She is buying an egg and it turns into Humpty-Dumpty. The woman serving in the shop turns into a sheep and the next minute they are rowing in a rowing boat somewhere and I was visualizing that.McCartney remembered of the song's composition, "We did the whole thing like an Alice In Wonderland idea, being in a boat on the river ... Every so often it broke off and you saw Lucy in the sky with diamonds all over the sky. This Lucy was God, the Big Figure, the White Rabbit." He later recalled helping Lennon finish the song at Lennon's Kenwood home, specifically claiming he contributed the "newspaper taxis" and "cellophane flowers" lyrics; Lennon's 1968 interview with Rolling Stone magazine confirmed McCartney's contribution.
Lennon's original handwritten lyrics sold at auction in 2011 for $230,000
Rolling Stone magazine described the song as "Lennon's lavish daydream" and music critic Richie Unterberger said "'Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds" was one of the best songs on the Beatles' famous Sgt. Pepper album, and one of the classic songs of psychedelia as a whole. There are few other songs that so successfully evoke a dream world, in both the sonic textures and words." In a review for the BBC, Chris Jones described the track as "nursery rhyme surrealism" that contributed to Sgt. Pepper's "revolutionary ... sonic carpet that enveloped the ears and sent the listener spinning into other realms." Hilary Saunders of Paste called the song "a perfectly indulgent introduction to psych-rock".
In later interviews, Lennon expressed disappointment with the Beatles' arrangement of the recording, complaining that inadequate time was taken to fully develop his initial idea for the song. He also said that he had not sung it very well. "I was so nervous I couldn't sing," he told journalist Ray Connolly, "but I like the lyrics."