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