THEY SAID, THEY SAID

Continuing a track by track spin through The Beatles Revolver which began here.

Revolver Side Two

SIDE TWO

1. GOOD DAY SUNSHINE

I’m in love and it’s a sunny day

McCartney blithely chirps about how wonderful it is to be in love [Kozinn, p. 144]

Superbly sung by McCartney and exquisitely produced by Martin and his team, ‘Good Day Sunshine’ displays The Beatles at their effortless best [Macdonald, p. 167].

This song was praised, particularly for its construction, by Leonard Bernstein [Dowlding, p.141].

2. AND YOU BIRD CAN SING

You tell me that you’ve heard every sound there is

And your bird can swing

But you can’t hear me, you can’t hear me

Distinguished by a fabulous electric guitar obligato multitrack in thirds by Harrison to create a running chordal effect [Kozinn, p. 142]

More lucid Lennon nonsense [Norman, p. 274].

A message of sheer defiance [Kozinn, p. 144].

Another of my throw aways [John Lennon, cited in Dowlding, p. 141]

3. FOR NO ONE

You stay home, she goes out

She says that long ago she knew someone 

But now he’s gone

She doesn’t need him

Some discussion as to exactly what was needed for this song had been underway between Paul and George Martin, both men feeling that a harpsichord, used the year prior on the Yardbirds chart-topping ‘For Your Love’, wasn’t exactly it. Martin suggested a clavichord, a Baroque-era keyboard associated with the work of Georg Friedrich Handel; furthermore, it just so happened that he owned one and was happy to lug it down the studio—for a fee, of course. (AIR, George’s production company, billed EMI five guineas.) [Rodrigeuz, p. 136]

A curiously phlegmatic account of the end of an affair [Macdonald, p. 164]

4. DOCTOR ROBERT

If you’re down he’ll pick you up, Doctor Robert

Take a drink from his special cup, Doctor Robert

Concerning a New York doctor who habituated his socialite clients to narcotics by mixing methedrine with vitamin shots, the song shifts key evasively, stabilising only in its middle eight – an evangelical sales-pitch backed by pious harmonium and warbling choirboys [Macdonald, p. 158].

5. I WANT TO TELL YOU (Harrison)

But if I seem to act unkind

It’s only me, it’s not my mind

That is confusing things

Revolver was not presented in the usual patchwork album style but as a continuous, cohesive performance, as if they had chosen Abbey Road Studio two as a substitute stage… There was George’s ‘I Want To Tell You’, with its wonderful message to pampered, un-harassed and fully-employed 1966 teenagers that it was still OK to feel flat and dissatisfied (or ‘hung up’) the way George did [Norman, p. 274].

If not the most talented then certainly the most thoughtful of the songwriting Beatles, Harrison was regarded by Lennon and McCartney as a junior partner, and ‘I Want To Tell You’ was despatched swiftly compared with the time lavished on their material’ [Macdonald, p. 166].

6. GOT TO GET YOU INTO MY LIFE

I was alone, I took a ride

I didn’t know what I would find there

Another road where maybe I

Could see another kind of mind there

A bold, brassy slab of American-styled R&B, fulfilling what the title of their last album merely suggested. The finished track would feature an overlay of horns, something previously unheard on a Beatles record [Rodrigeuz, p.84].

Paul’s ‘exuberant’ vocal was, Rodriguez reports, a celebration not of a particular girl, but of marijuana:

He set the record straight (sic) in Many Years from Now, stating: “It’s actually an ode to pot, like someone might write an ode to chocolate, or a good claret” [ibid, p. 84].

7. TOMORROW NEVER KNOWS

Turn off your mind, relax and float downstream

It is not dying, it is not dying

Lay down all thought, surrender to the void

It is shining, it is shining

From the verbose but confused ‘I Want To Tell You’ to the eerie omega that was ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’ there exuded evidence of half-understood Eastern mysticism and the ‘psychedelic’ inner landscapes of LSD. With an electronically warped vocal, quotes from The Tibetan Book Of The Dead, a monotonous percussion rataplan and an aural junk-sculpture of tape-loops, ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’ defied adequate categorisation and stood little chance of superseding ‘Yesterday’ as the most recorded song of all time.

‘Everyone, from Brisbane to Bootle, hates that daft song Lennon sang at the end of Revolver,’ declared horrified (teen schoolgirl magazine) Mirabelle [Clayson, p. 202].

The cosmic scramble of the track seems to land on the album like an alien spacecraft [Du Noyer].

Paul McCartney had been checking out Stockhausen’s Gesang der Jungelinge, with its electronic layering of voices, and Kontakte, with its swirling tape-loop patterns. At his request, engineers at Abbey Road Studios inserted similar effects into the song [Ross, p. 515].

The tape-loop—a length of taped sound edited to itself to create a perpetually cycling signal—is a staple of sound-effect studios and the noise-art idiom known as musique concréte. Pop music, though, had heard nothing like this before, and the loops The Beatles created for ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’ were especially extraordinary… The soundscape of ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’ is a riveting blend of anarchy and awe [Macdonald, p. 152].

THE COVER

For the album cover, the Beatles commissioned their old Hamburg friend Klaus Voorman, who was then playing bass with the British singer Manfred Mann. Voorman provided a telling collage that contrasted the 1965 Beatles with the Moptops of the past. The current Beatles are captured in spare line drawings, with photographs of their eyes inset. Their hair is long and shaggy, and poking out of it, standing and lying in it and crawling through it, are the early Beatles, represented by photographs taken between 1962 and 1965 [Kozinn, p. 144].

Once The Beatles were fab and gear; now they oozed self-assurance. It is there in the mysterious black-and-white cover, a line drawing-cum-collage created by Klaus Voorman [MacDonald, p. 84].

Grammy Revolver Klaus Voormann

Klaus Voormann has published a new book on the Revolver cover story. Check it out here

THE TITLE

The album was originally to be called Abracadabra but that had already been used as the title of an album. Other titles considered: Beatles on Safari, Bubble and Squeak, Free Wheelin’ Beatles, and Magic Circles [Dowlding, p. 132].

Revolver… so much cooler than the mooted (titles) [MacDonald, p. 84].

We suddenly thought, ‘Hey, what does a record do? It revolves. Great!’ You know— and so it was a Revolver.’ Paul McCartney [http://www.thebeatles.com/album/revolver]

Clinton Heylin - Robert Rodriguez - Beatles

REFERENCES

Clayson, Alan (2001) George Harrison. Sanctuary, London, UK

Dowlding, William J (1989) Beatlesongs. Simon & Schuster, NY, USA

Heylin, Clinton (2007) The Act You’ve Known For All These Years. Canongate, Edinburgh, Sco

Kozinn, Allan (1995) The Beatles. Phaidon, London, UK

Lewishon, Mark (1992)  The Complete Beatles Chronicles. Pyramid Books, London, UK

MacDonald, Bruno in Dimery, Robert (General Editor) (2005) 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die. ABC Books, Sydney, Aus.

Macdonald, Ian (1994) Revolution in the head: The Beatles Records & The Sixties. Pimlico, London, UK

Norman, Philip (2003, Revised and updated ed.) Shout! The True Story of the Beatles. Pan Books, London, UK

Rodriguez, Robert (2012) Revolver: How The Beatles Reimagined Rock ’n’ Roll. Backbeat Books, Milwaukee, USA

Ross, Alex (2007) The rest is noise. Picador, NY

Du Noyer, Paul (1991) Q Magazine – The Q Sleevenotes: The Beatles Revolver. UK

Beatles Revolver vinyl

19 comments

  1. So here we are, and Tomorrow Never Knows. When I first heard that song I thought, “Wow, it’s 1996 right now and this song sounds exactly like current bands such as Chemical Brothers”. I still think it’s current sounding.

    David Lee Roth covered it and changed the title to “That Beatles Tune”. What an ass!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It is indeed a key song. That’s very funny about Roth customising it. Ass indeed.
      Cheers Mike.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Ass in assless chaps.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. Been so waiting on your look upon the second side of ‘Revolver’. Once again, us poor Yanks ignorantly thought “And Your Bird Can Sing” and “Doctor Robert” were part of the ‘Yesterday and Today’ LP released a couple of months earlier and hadn’t associated at all with this. Yet, it was this side was where my psychedelia of the decade began to take shape. All those splendid songs in this short shrift set built upon one another to culminate in that song “‘Everyone, from Brisbane to Bootle…” hated.

    Me? I just loved it. If I had played side one more than a few times before turning that platter over to finally giving side two a chance, it was nothing compared to ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’. Yes, “Good Day Sunshine” started it blithely enough, yet this was like completing a puzzle…musically. All of it began to fall in quickly together, the glee intensifying with each track. Really thought McCartney had outdone himself as a Pop singer with “Got To Get You Into My Life” with those horns, which harkened me back Pet Clark and Tony Hatch’s arrangements in their part of the British Invasion, but not like this.

    Then “Tomorrow…” began and I was dropped down the rabbit hole, where I’ve stayed ever since with The Lads. Loved this two-parter, Bruce. Kudos, my friend. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Down the rabbit hole into a bigger, technicolour universe. Who’d live anywhere else?

      Thanks for sharing your memories, Michael. Really enjoyed the thoughts and memories you shared.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Arguably my favorite Beatles album. It stands as a singular piece of rock and roll not to be equaled. An absolute game-changing record.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. …AND it was fifty years ago today (almost)!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Bruce, I’m late on my homework assignment!
    But I have a valid excuse about a dog eating homework or the like?
    If I could have an extension until Friday? 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Of course Geoff. All the best music homework has an extended mix. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Probably my favourite Beatles’ album, thanks for your comments on all the songs and on the cover. Voorman recently spoke to The Guardian about his artwork. https://www.theguardian.com/music/2016/jul/23/beatles-revolver-cover-klaus-voormann

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Glad you enjoyed it, Paul. Thanks for the link. I suspect Klaus is doing the rounds promoting his book. There’s a link to his web site wiht the photo, above.

      Like

  6. Amazing album of course, but not quite flawless for me. Yellow Submarine can’t decide between being a child song and a psych one so the results end up being awkward. Love You To is good but pales in comparison to the next Indian George songs – the truly transcendental Within You Without You and The Inner Light. Compared to those, Love You To still sounds like an allright pop-rocker with sitar added over it. I think Sgt. Pepper, White Album and Abbey Road also work much better as a whole; Revolver still sounds like a collection of random ideas more than a cohesive album. Having said that, it contains my two all-time favorite Beatles songs in Tomorrow Never Knows and Here, There and Everywhere.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for contributing your thoughts, Mr O B. It’s true that developments can be tracked throughout the Beatles career and folk will have their different views on where the peak was reached. In Revolution in the Head Ian Macdonald, for instance, mounts a persuasive argument for three chronological phases: ‘Going Up’, ‘The Top’, ‘Coming Down’. Revolution ends phases two.

      The infusion of George’s spiritual quest into his music is a rich topic that deserves its own post (or a series, or a bespoke blog!), that’s for sure. Finally, I must thank you for making me smile; I’ve never ever heard the White album described as cohesive before. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I see your point; on White Album I get a “let’s-do-everything” feeling and then it makes much more sense to have all that styles and shapes and forms mixed in. It somehow works much more as an album for me than Revolver, despite being more diverse. I love listening to it from top to bottom, no break, no skipping (even Revolution #9 makes sense within the album), whereas with Revolver I listen to individual tracks more than the album.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Wonderful, timeless music worthy of the accolades here in these comments and elsewhere in its 50th year. Within that “relative” reality though, I never really liked the sunny dispositions of Good Day Sunshine or Got to Get You Into My Life, two of my least favorite Beatles tunes. I really like And Your Bird Can Sing on this side; the sloppyish multitracked guitar, the busy bass, and great singalong lyrics. Dr. Robert remains special because it is about my uncle (smile), and as for the gloriously daft, cosmic scramble that is Tomorrow Never Knows, what great drums!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Great piece! I wish that they’d used Paperback Writer from the early Revolver sessions instead of flaming Yellow Submarine though. Even so, its still their best album by a long and a winding country mile.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Paul. I, too, find it the most satisfying overall. And when I listen to the effects and Ringo’s wonderful ‘everyman’ voice, I even enjoy ‘Yellow Sub’!

      Liked by 1 person

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