“Glass Onion” is a song by the Beatles from their 1968 double-album The Beatles (also known as the “White Album”) primarily written by John Lennon and credited to Lennon–McCartney. This is the first track on the album to feature Ringo Starr on drums. Starr briefly left the group during recording sessions for the album and was replaced on drums by Paul McCartney on both “Back in the U.S.S.R.” and “Dear Prudence”.
The song refers to several earlier Beatles songs, including “There’s a Place”, “Strawberry Fields Forever”, “I Am the Walrus”, “Lady Madonna”, “The Fool on the Hill”, and “Fixing a Hole”. The song also refers to the “Cast Iron Shore”, a coastal area of south Liverpool known to local people as “The Cazzy”.
The song’s “the Walrus was Paul” lyric is both a reference to “I Am the Walrus” and Lennon saying “something nice to Paul” in response to changes in their relationship at that time. Later, the line was interpreted as a “clue” in the “Paul is dead” urban legend that alleged McCartney died in 1966 during the recording of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and was replaced by a look-alike and sound-alike. The line is preceded with “Well, here’s another clue for you all”.
Lennon himself dismissed any deep meaning to the mysterious lyrics:
I threw the line in—”the Walrus was Paul”—just to confuse everybody a bit more. It could have been “The fox terrier is Paul.” I mean, it’s just a bit of poetry. I was having a laugh because there’d been so much gobbledygook about Pepper—play it backwards and you stand on your head and all that.
John Lennon – double-tracked vocals, acoustic guitar
Paul McCartney – bass guitar, piano, recorder, vocals
George Harrison – lead guitar
Ringo Starr – drums, tambourine
George Martin – string arrangement including:
Henry Datyner – violin
Eric Bowie – violin
Norman Lederman – violin
Ronald Thomas – violin
John Underwood – viola
Keith Cummings – viola
Eldon Fox – cello
Reginald Kilby – cello