The song opens with a sweepingly catchy acoustic melody that seamlessly evokes sense of nostalgic longing. This feeling of sadness and reflection permeates throughout the piece. While the arrangement is actually quite complex, the music appears stripped down to the casual listener; the song is centered around a mall lick performed simultaneously on acoustic guitar and sitar, which Is Introduced at the beginning and decidedly does not evolve into anything beyond this. The simplistic structure brings to mind a sensation of loneliness, which is heightened by Lemon’s yearning vocals.
The soothing melody can be described as dreamlike, and the petition is used to almost hypnotic effect, succeeding in ministering the concentrated listener into a peaceful, contemplative daze. The short length of the song Is somewhat Jarring (It ends just after two minutes) because Just as the listener has been subdued by the Infectious melody, they are abandoned by It just as quickly. It feels as though there should be more; as if there is something missing. I would argue, however, that this is exactly the effect The Battles intended, as it adds to the ambiguous nature of the song. The production of the song, courtesy of George
Martin, succeeds in bringing the contagious melody to the forefront of the experience, all the while allowing the rest of the Instruments sufficient clarity. Ambiguity Is also achieved through the song’s lyrics, which describe a seemingly clandestine love affair between Lennox and an unnamed woman. The song opens with the line: “I once had a girl, or should I say, she once had me”, suggesting that not only is the relationship mysterious to the listener, but also inconclusive to the man involved in it. The lyrics continue to outline a strained evening of the couple talking, ranking wine, and eventually going to bed in separate rooms.
Much speculation has been made as to what the song Is actually about, especially the final lines; “And when I awoke, I was alone, this bird had flown / So 1 11th a fire, Isn’t It good, Norwegian wood. ” Some believe that the fire being lit is a joint of marijuana, or that the man burns the house down after the woman makes him sleep in the bath. In The Battles Anthology, Lennox says of the lyrics: ‘Norwegian Wood’ was about an affair I was having. I was very careful and paranoid because I didn’t want my wife, CCNY, to know that there really was something owing on outside the household.
I’d always had some kind of affairs going, so I was trying to De sophisticated In writing auto an tall, out In sun a smokescreen way that you couldn’t tell. (196) Like many of The Battles’ innovations in sound, the incorporation of the sitar came from spontaneous experimentation. In The Battles Anthology, George Harrison recalls: I went and bought a sitar from a little shop at the top of Oxford Street called Antiaircraft – it stocked little carvings, and incense. It was a real crummy-quality one, actually, but I bought it and mucked around with it a bit.
Anyway;ay, we were at the mint where we’d recorded the ‘Norwegian Wood’ backing track (twelve-string and six- string acoustic, bass and drums) and it needed something. We would usually start looking through the cupboard to see if we could come up with something, a new sound, and I picked the sitar up – it was Just lying around; I hadn’t really figured out what to do with it. It was quite spontaneous: I found the notes that played the lick. It fitted and it worked. (196) “Norwegian Wood” is the second track on Rubber Soul, following the upbeat “Drive My Car” and is followed by the also light-hearted muff Won’t See Me”.
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