So what really happens in "Norwegian Wood" ?

Over in the “Your Mom’s Pornographic Song” thread, a mini-discussion got started about the meaning of the final lines of the John Lennon-penned Beatles song, “Norwegian Wood.”

The story: John is invited over to a young lady’s place, where she shows off her furniture and possessions. She has no chairs, being a mod sort of bird, so they sit on the rug drinking wine. John is anticipating nookie, but is instead sent off to sleep in the bathtub. When he wakes in the morning, the young lady has left for work.

“So I lit a fire/Isn’t it good/Norwegian Wood.”

RealityChuck and blessedwolf go for a literal interpretation…John gets pissed off and burns down her house (apartment).

This strikes me as a) a slight overreaction, and b) something that, if I’d actually done it, would not be so proud of that I’d immortalize it in song.

My take is that John finds himself alone, shrugs, says “The heck with it,” and lights up a joint. “Norwegian Wood” becomes a euphemism for a type of marijuana, like “Acapulco Gold” or “Panama Red.”

I did an informal poll of the baby boomers in my office (without any prompting; just asked what they thought the final lines meant).

Three said “He lights a joint.” One was rather vehement. “Of COURSE he lights a joint! What else could it be?”

One said “He’s a pyromaniac. He burned her place down.”

The last (and most creative) said “I always thought it meant he masturbated.”

Let’s get a lively discussion going here, guys. We have to remember the important things in life.

maybe he was actually cold, and lit a fire in the fireplace.

not everything has to be descriptive :wink:

Okay, you HAVE to be my bitch now, Twisty. Because I always thought the same thing. :smiley:

I had always understood “Norwegian wood” to be a euphemism for pot.

“Wood” is most certainly used by some as a euphemism for pot, so I just figured “Norwegian wood” referred to a specific variety of same.

I know that I have also read that explanation somewhere, but I can’t recall where.

That’s really the beauty of the song. Those not “in the know” can still appreciate the tune as a song about frustration and (taking the lyrics literally) arson. Those who get the reference can nod and smile to themselves.

Or how accurate their info might be. It’s close to the bottom:

At least they are sorta consistent:

Well, you DO know that “Rudolph, The Red-Nosed Reindeer” is actually a communist-era tribute to one of Russia’s nuclear prognosticators, predicting when the final “rain” of fallout would occur? It was really titled, “Rudolph the Red Knows Rain, Dear.”

Let’s not even get into the real meanings of “Gladly, the Cross-Eyed Bear.”

—“Lovely Rita”

I always figured that he picked her favorite piece of furniture and burned it. That would be consistent with John’s personality, because he could be rather spiteful when he wanted to.

According to Albert Goldman’s reviled little crap-o-rama The Lives of John Lennon, “Norwegian Wood” supposedly details John Lennon’s encounter with a reporter with whom he hooked up. She was very proud of her place, extolling the virtues of the Norwegian wood decor (think IKEA), and Lennon was underwhelmed. He just wanted to knock boots. She had other things in mind, and left him alone. When she left in the morning, he torched the place, breaking up all the Norwegian wood furniture and throwing it in the fire.

When asked the same question, Lennon himself once said that the Goldman story was reasonably close to the truth, except that he DID, in fact, get lucky, but he trashed the place anyway. And another time, Lennon said that nothing like that ever happened, and the last couplet was “I Am the Walrus”-style gibberish, not meant to be taken literally.

It is unknowable.

The story I hear is that the woman’s name was Ingrid, a former resident of Oslo where she worked in a kipper processing plant. John, being the spiteful bastard that he was, waited until she returned home and burned not only her house, but her at the stake as well, all the while saying “I’ll teach you to make me sleep in the tub you frigid, Scandinavian, fish-processing skank.” Whether there’s any truth to that at all, well, I just couldn’t say.

Apparantly Baby Boomers think everything is a reference to pot.

I’m weighing this between John Lennon being a Representive
of His Generation, or being a guy with his own black sense of humor…I think he burned her house down.

I must admit, the evidence is mounting against the marijuana interpretation.

I’ve heard for years that this was a reference to marijuana, but it’s never quite rung true for me.

“Panama Red,” “Colombian Gold,” “Maui Wowie,” - these are terms that make some kind of sense. They relate to the alleged country or area of origin. But honestly, “Norwegian Wood?” Was Norway reknowned as a producer of weed in the 1960’s?

If the song had been “Mexican Wood” or “Thai Wood” or “Morrocan Wood,” I’d buy the dope angle, but this just doesn’t hold water IMO.

May I inquire discreet, luv, when are you free to take some tea with me? :slight_smile:

–Mr. Kite

I thought it was his first encounter with Yoko, and he was cheating on his first wife, Cynthia.

My friend bought me the Norwegian Barbie doll one year for my birthday because she said it made her think of the song, “Norwegian Wood”…heehee…

I always figured it for an arson reference. It is, after all, on the same album (Rubber Soul) as “Run for Your Life” where he tells a woman, “If I catch you with another man that’s the end, little girl.” The whole song’s about a psycho stalker type. “I’d rather see you dead, little girl, than to be with another man…”

Arson seems pretty tame after that.

Guinastasia: It was written long before Yoko came along. After that, he wasn’t so subtle about his extra-marital relationship.

Another clue comes from “And Your Bird Sing” from Revolver, the next album after Rubber Soul.

When your prized possessions
Start to weigh you down
Look in my direction
I’ll be round
I’ll be round

Another suggestion to give up on materialism comes from the later “Imagine.”

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can

“Norwegian Wood” probably reflects a more proactive vision of this. Show off your house and not the guest inside it? Here’s your house. ::CRACKLE, CRACKLE::

Heh-heh, fire’s cool. What an arsonhole.

How’s this for f**k’ed up?

When I was a teenager in the early to mid '80s, I was big-time into the hard country scene. My introduction to Norwegian Wood was as album filler on “High Notes” by Hank Williams, Jr.

That’s right, boys and girls. I didn’t even know this was a Beatles Song until I started listening to classic rock in the early '90s. In fact, until that time, I doubt I could have named 5 Beatles songs.

To answer the OP (my unenlightened perspective, anyway), when ole’ Hank sang about the fire, I just assumed he was cold and lit a fire in the fireplace. It never occurred to me that pot or arson could have been the message.

Sounds a lot like the words speak for themselves.

He had a groupy on the Norwegian tour, presumably before they became famous.

He thought it was a cool memory and recorded it.
The wood refers to where he was and what reminds him of that night.

End of mystery.

I always thought He burned her lovely furniture because he was felt scorned.