Saturday, 6 August 2016

Revolver (Tomorrow Never Knows)

21:28:00 Posted by Steve Rowland , , , , 4 comments
It was fifty years ago today...
... the beginning of August 1966 that the Beatles released 'Revolver' upon an expectant world. England had just won the World Cup, the weather in the streets was summery and love was in the air.

Their 7th LP in less than four years, 'Revolver' was an album that perfectly captured the zeitgeist that was stirring from London to San Francisco. To this thirteen-year old it was both the fabbest and the coolest musical statement and I still consider it probably the finest album ever made by anyone, anywhere, anyhow (with Jefferson Airplane's 'After Bathing At Baxter's' a close second.)

Its fourteen tracks are all wonderful compositions in themselves; as a collection, I think they are unsurpassed. Combining an anti-establishment stance ("Taxman") with wry social observation ("And Your Bird Can Sing", "Doctor Robert") and existential questing ("I'm Only Sleeping", "She Said, She Said", "Got To Get You Into My Life", "Tomorrow Never Knows") plus some of the band's most vibrant love songs ("Good Day Sunshine", "Here, There and Everywhere") and moving statements on the human condition ("Eleanor Rigby", "For No One"), the Beatles really nailed the yin and the yang for us proto-hippies.

'Revolver' also took popular music to a new pinnacle of artistic achievement and to my mind was a greater advance of the medium than was made with its more lauded successor, 'Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.' For 'Revolver' was the album that changed everything (as the critics are wont to say), that turned pop music into rock music into art, no less. It was also the fanfare which heralded the dawn of a golden age and I still get an echoing sense of that boundless optimism whenever it is played.

The phrase "tomorrow never knows" is a runic Ringoism, a bit of colloquial phraseology in the same Scouse vein as "eight days a week" and "a hard day's night". John Lennon bagged it as the title to the song that closes out the album, a ground-breaking psychedelic raga that tilts at being the musical mimesis of a meditative trance.

Revolver Redux
When I was a boy,
Everything was right
But all those words they slip away.

I took a ride,
I didn't know what I would find there...
All the lonely people
Running everywhere at such a speed.

My head is filled with things to say:
A lifetime is so short,
A new one can't be bought.

To lead a better life,
Lay down all thought,
Surrender to the void.
Stay in bed, float upstream,
Listen to the colour of your dreams,
See the meaning of within...

Love is all
Love never dies
And love is everyone.
(Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!)

Love is all you need.
Thanks for reading. Have a groovy week, S :-)


Lady Curt said...

Well that ages me. I used to tape their songs and record them ( I still have the 4 track reel to reel Elizabethan in the loft ) then stop and start the recording in order to write down the lyrics...Oh happy days !

Christo said...

Thanks for recalling this, Steve.
REVOLVER was the first recording when I began to notice the huge contribution being made to music we liked by studio technicians.
The prime for me among them being George Martin who showed the eager sponges of Lennon and McCartney what was possible by using tapes and other recording equipment, Tomorrow... being their most obvious bit of trickery and the plainly obverse of Yesterday.
Of course there were others such as Phil Spector, but probably the one most influenced by REVOLVER was Brian Wilson who knew that to "last", The Beach Boys had to produce music for boy racers and Surfer dudes.
Without REVOLVER and Sgt. Pepper..., there would never have been Pet Sounds.
1966 was a great Summer, the one which produced the driving through France poem I read at Silantro on Friday evening.
So irrespective of England's World cup triumph, that Summer was so important to me.

Anonymous said...

Great blog. I totally agree about Revolver. Always thought Pepper was over-hyped. This was the Beatles at the top of their game. Thanks for the reminder.

Anonymous said...

I did the way you've made a poem out of exerts from the songs. Sums Lennon up nicely.