The Beatles’ ‘Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds’: Paul McCartney Felt William Shatner Was High When He Covered It

William Shatner has recorded covers of many popular songs, including The Beatles’ “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds.” Interestingly, he combined the track with a spoken-word piece called “Spleen.” During an interview, Paul McCartney discussed his feelings on the cover. 

A closeup of William Shatner in the 1960s, around the same time he covered The Beatles' "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds"
William Shatner | CBS via Getty Images

Why William Shatner combined songs by Bob Dylan, Frank Sinatra, and The Beatles with spoken-word pieces

In 1968, Shatner released his debut album: The Transformed Man. The album included covers of popular songs like Frank Sinatra’s “It Was a Very Good Year” and Bob Dylan’s “Mr. Tambourine Man” alongside spoken word renditions of texts by famous authors like William Shakespeare and Edmond Rostand.

During an interview with Fireworks, Shatner explained the point of The Transformed Man. “The concept was to take great pieces of literature with music behind it and have it segue into a piece of music which had the opposite feeling or philosophy,” Shatner said. “For example, I took Hamlet’s ‘To be or not to be…’ and had it segue into ‘It Was a Very Good Year,’ a song that was popular during that time, to demonstrate the opposing view of how important it is to live life. The contrast was ‘should I die or should I live,’ that’s what I had in mind.

“For the same reason, I took the theme from Cyrano de Bergerac with the ‘I may climb perhaps to no great heights, but I will climb alone’ section, which segues into ‘Mr. Tambourine Man,’ which is a drug song all about how you can’t live alone,” Shatner said. On The Transformed Man, Shatner’s version of “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds” is preceded by a spoken word piece called “Spleen.” “Spleen” is dark and apocalyptic, while “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds” is a lot more pleasant.

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What Paul McCartney said about William Shatner’s ‘Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds’

During an interview with Friday Night with Jonathan Ross, Paul discussed Shatner’s cover of The Beatles’ “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds.” Paul said Shatner must have been “on drugs” when he sang the song. Paul still loved Shatner’s rendition, saying it was one of his favorite versions of “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds.” He sang part of “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds” while mimicking Shatner’s unique vocal stylings.

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How the public reacted to The Beatles’ ‘Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds and William Shatner’s cover

The Beatles didn’t release their version of “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds” as a single. Because of this, it didn’t chart on the Billboard Hot 100. On the other hand, the song’s parent album, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, was a massive hit. It topped the Billboard 200 and stayed on the chart for 233 weeks. 

Shatner didn’t release his cover of “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds” as a single either, so it wasn’t a hit. In a similar vein, The Transformed Man didn’t reach the Billboard 200. None of his albums reached the Billboard 200 until 2011’s Seeking Major Tom. Shatner’s “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds” wasn’t a hit; however, Paul loved it.