The modern day’s most popular psychedelic surrealists, the Flaming Lips, covered the Sixties’ most popular psychedelic song, “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds,” as part of The Late Show With David Letterman’s Beatles Week last night. Moreover, they did it with a little help from their friend Sean Lennon.
The Lips had previously shared their own, six-minute audio rendition of the song via frontman Wayne Coyne’s Instagram, but, as with every Flaming Lips song, the visual element makes it so much better. On Letterman, Coyne wore a frilly silver coat and stood atop a road case, waving his arms like a born-again prophet, with ribbons colored with pastel pink and green lights flowed from him.
Lennon, sporting the same hat and beard his dad wore on the album sleeve for Hey Jude, stood to Coyne’s left and swayed as he sang of “cellophane flowers.” When the chorus finally hit, so did the glitter, as thousands of tiny silver particles (diamonds?) rained over the musicians and Coyne’s ribbon light show flashed its way into an epileptic’s worst nightmare. By the time the group reached its final call-out to “the girl with kaleidoscope eyes,” Lennon and Coyne pulled out their own psychedelic visual twist on the line. “That’s all you need, right there,” Letterman said at the conclusion of the performance.
All week, the talk-show host has been offering up his stage – which just happens to be the same stage the Beatles played on 50 years ago for their first appearance in the U.S., on The Ed Sullivan Show – for artists to pay tribute to the Fab Four.
Earlier this week, Broken Bells played “And I Love Her” and “I Am the Walrus” with archival footage of Ringo Starr, Sting got behind the wheel of “Drive My Car,” and Lenny Kravitz offered up Billy Preston’s keyboard role to Letterman bandleader Paul Shaffer on “Get Back.” Tonight, Ms. Lauryn Hill will have her turn.
It all leads up to this weekend’s “really big shoe,” when CBS airs a two-hour special about the Beatles’ arrival in the States and appearance on Sullivan. That show, The Night That Changed America: A Grammy Salute to the Beatles, will air at a time coinciding with the day, date and time that the group appeared on the show, Sunday at 8 p.m. EST. It will include performances by Alicia Keys, John Legend, Gary Clark, Jr., John Mayer and a reunited Eurythmics.
Earlier this year, the Grammys awarded the Beatles with a long-overdue Lifetime Achievement Award. And the Grammys awards show reunited Paul McCartney with Ringo Starr, who together performed the former’s New track “Queenie Eye.”