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Musically influenced by the introspective lyrics of Bob Dylan, "Norwegian Wood" is considered a milestone in the Beatles' progression as complex songwriters.
"Norwegian Wood" was influential in the development in raga rock and psychedelic rock, even though it was not the first song to feature an Eastern-inspired sound in a rock composition, and not even the first Beatles song to do so. Not long afterwards, Indian classical music became popularised in mainstream Western society, and several Western musical artists such as the Byrds, the Rolling Stones, and Donovan integrated elements of the genre into their musical approach. Accordingly, "Norwegian Wood" is recognised as a bona fide raga-rock song, as well as fundamental in the early evolution of the genre later regarded as world music. The song marked the first example of a rock band playing a sitar or any Indian instrument on one of their recordings. Although droning guitars had been used previously to mimic the qualities of the sitar, "Norwegian Wood" is generally credited as sparking a musical craze for the sound of the novel instrument in the mid-1960s. The song is often identified as the first example of raga rock, while the trend it initiated led to the arrival of Indian rock and formed the essence of psychedelic rock. "Norwegian Wood" is also recognised as an important piece of what is typically called "world music", and it was a major step towards incorporating non-Western musical influences into Western popular music.
Supposedly the song's lyrics are about an extramarital affair that John Lennon was involved in, as hinted in the opening couplet: "I once had a girl, or should I say, she once had me". Paul McCartney explained that the term "Norwegian Wood" was a sarcastic reference to the cheap pine wall panelling then in vogue. McCartney commented on the final verse of the song: "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? But it didn't, it meant I burned the fucking place down as an act of revenge, and then we left it there and went into the instrumental." (Wikipedia)
****REVISED July 25, 2019 - SR****