Tomorrow Never Knows: All Together Now!

In one of my favorite books on The Beatles and Liverpool, Liverpool: The 5th Beatle, author P. Willis Pitts says, “If The Beatles had not been from disparate cultures, they might not have survived. Ethnically, the four Beatles represented four very different facets of Liverpool in a microcosm. And this not only kept them together for so long, but was what made their music so juicy and colorful.”[1]

 

Never is that more obvious than in “Tomorrow Never Knows.”

 

Ringo, the earthy boy from The Dingle who unpretentiously coined remarkable idioms, gave us the clever title, “Tomorrow Never Knows.” When asked for the fourteen millionth time what the future would hold for The Beatles, Ringo (the actual working-class hero) shrugged and said, “Tomorrow never knows.” And instantly John logged the phrase in, just as he did with Ringo’s earlier wry observation about “a hard day…er, day’s night.” Like any author worth his salt, Lennon captured le mot juste (the best phrase) from his Scouse friend and eventually used it. (As John always said, “When you steal, steal from the best!”)

 

Furthermore, in the musical web that is “Tomorrow Never Knows,” Ringo’s drumming guided the group expertly through the complicated, interlocking sound. As Willis-Pitts so astutely observes, “Ringo laid it down, and unlike most drummers of the modern era, did not blend with Paul in that symbolic marriage of drummer and bassist…Ringo laid it down for the whole group.”[2] In “Tomorrow Never Knows,” Starr’s sound formed the unshakeable foundation upon which this otherwise unfettered and mystical song was constructed.[3]

 

Paul – the prim Allerton row house PR man for the group – provided the friendly introductions that propelled John to write the song. In 1966, Paul introduced John to Barry Miles and John Dunbar who ran London’s Indica bookstore. Here, John (initially in search of Nietzsche’s works) was handed a copy of Timothy Leary’s The Psychedelic Experience: A Manual Based on the Tibetan Book of the Dead.[4] Glomming hungrily onto this Cliffs Notes version of the Tibetan Book of the Dead, (Tim Riley refers to it as “a shortcut” to the ancient practice, a “trip guide”[5]) John conceived the idea of writing a musical equivalent to Leary’s work.

 

Paul’s part as “co-inspirator” for the song isn’t his only role, however, in the life of “Tomorrow Never Knows.” As Riley wisely observes in Tell Me Why, “Ringo and Paul…lay down a feverish groove beneath the chaos as noises, backwards guitars, and birds swoop all around them.”[6] Furthermore, the sixteen tape loops made by The Beatles which fill the song’s entirety were made in Paul’s home on his Grundig recorder. Paul introduced the others to his technique (as Sir George Martin explained it) of “moving the erase head and putting on a loop [so that] he could actually saturate the tape with a single noise. It would go round and round, and eventually the tape couldn’t absorb any more…”[7] McCartney’s technique was adopted by the others; The Beatles were given an assignment to create their own, and voila![8]

 

Though we are told that the spirited boy from Speke, George Harrison, did not play a large role on this track (other than performing guitar on his loops), “Tomorrow Never Knows” would have been virtually impossible without George. It is George who first dragged his mates into Eastern mysticism. In fact, in The Beatles Anthology, George questioned whether John truly understood the immensity of the lyrics in “Tomorrow Never Knows.” George said, “I am not too sure…John actually fully understood what he was saying. He knew he was onto something when he saw those words and turned them into a song. But to have experienced what the lyrics in that song are actually about? I don’t know if he fully understood it.”[9] And then George went on to explain the song in great detail. The philosophy behind the song was Harrison’s wheelhouse.

 

Whether or not John grasped the fullness of Leary’s words or the philosophy housed in The Tibetan Book of the Dead, our Woolton upper-middle class intellectual – John Lennon – penned a tribute to both that is accurate, poetic, and moving. With a wisdom that knew what to include and what to leave out, John lifted up the most pertinent points and linked them logically and artistically. From that opening line that initially fascinated him,

 

“Turn off your mind, relax, and float downstream; this is not dying…”

 

to the magnificent conclusion of the song, John walked the listener carefully through the process of 1) eliminating all conflicting outside thoughts, 2) focusing solely upon meditation, 3) allowing spiritual healing to occur, and finally, 4) facing death with the certainty of a new beginning, not a sad ending.[10]

 

Furthermore, without ever allowing the melody to become laborious or monotonous, John created a true Indian song, based upon one unvarying chord. As George Harrison observed, “Indian music doesn’t modulate…you pick what key you’re in, and it stays in that key…[and] “Tomorrow Never Knows” was the first [song] that stayed there; the whole song was on one chord.” Creating a song in this manner and yet making it palatable and memorable for non-Indian listeners was, in itself, a musical coup. Once again, John Lennon proved himself the equal of any songwriter. His work is brilliant.

 

P. Willis Pitts points out that “[The Beatles’] songs worked, more or less, because each piece was only part of a fragment, part of a whole. Like an exploded diagram of a functional machine, these separate productions were an indication of how Beatles’ songs worked.”[11] No part could function without the other, and it took the amalgam to make a classic.

 

Nowhere is this more obvious than in the final song on Revolver, “Tomorrow Never Knows.” Working together as The Boys gradually began to face “an ending” which will be “the beginning” for their solo careers, they all created a masterpiece and faced the hard days’ nights to come with a faith that whispered, “In the universe as a whole, all will eventually be well.”

 

[1] Willi-Pitts, Liverpool: The 5th Beatle, 117.

[2] Willis, Pitts, 118.

[3] In The Beatles Anthology, p. 210, Ringo comments, “I was proud of my drumming on ‘Tomorrow Never Knows,’…I was quite proud of my drumming all the way through, really.”

[4] Miles, Many Years from Now, 290-291 and Riley, Lennon, 303.

[5] Riley, Lennon, 304.

[6] Riley, Tell Me Why, 199.

[7] Turner, A Hard Days’ Write, 116.

[8] In The Beatles Anthology, 210, George says, “Everybody went home and made a spool, a loop.”

[9] The Beatles, The Beatles Anthology, 210.

[10] See George Harrison’s brilliant explanation of the song’s lyrics in The Anthology, 210.

[11] Willis-Pitts, 118.


Jude Southerland Kessler is the author of the John Lennon Series: www.johnlennonseries.com

 

Jude is represented by 910 Public Relations — @910PubRel on Twitter and 910 Public Relations on Facebook.

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Paul McCartney: Into His Life

As we continue looking at Side Two of Revolver, we thought it might be fun to compare and contrast two of Paul’s love songs…we’d love to hear from you about the similarities and differences you perceive!

 

Revolver is a Paul-centric LP. No doubt about it. It is the first of The Beatles’ LPs in which Sir Macca (and not the former “Leader Beatle,” John Lennon) dominates,  singing, and thus having composed, six of the 14 tracks. (Really, seven, if you count his predominate influence on “Yellow Submarine”).

 

John Lennon was the real-life “Ancient Mariner.” Like Coleridge’s weathered protagonist, Lennon always grabbed you by the elbow, and began to tell you his tragic life’s story. In “I’ll Cry Instead,” his BBC cover of Smokey Robinson’s “You Really Got A Hold On Me” (to which John adds the telling word, “Mother”), “If I Fell” or “I’m A Loser,” John is consistently bemoaning about Julia’s absence in his life and his consuming heartbreak over her loss…or perhaps, as he sees it, his inability to keep her.

 

“Beatle Paul” is just as thematically consistent. From early on, he composes songs about his struggling (and later, failing) relationship with Jane Asher. On Side One of Beatles For Sale, he reminds Jane in “I’ll Follow the Sun” that:

 

“One day, you’ll look to see I’m gone,

But tomorrow may rain, so I’ll follow the sun.

One day, you’ll know I was the one,

But tomorrow may rain, so I’ll follow the sun.

And now the time has come,

And so my love, I must go…

And though I lose a friend, in the end you will know…”

 

Then, on Side Two of Beatles for Sale, he tries a tougher tack, saying in “What You’re Doing”:

 

“You got me running…and there’s no fun in it…

Why would it be so much

To ask of you what you’re doin’ to me!?”

 

Over and over, in “We Can Work it Out,” “You Won’t See Me,” and “I’m Looking Through You,” Paul sings to Jane Asher of his frustration, of  his need for her to “be there” for him. In fact, our Fest Blog examined that theme earlier this year when we studied the lovely “Here, There, and Everywhere.

 

Now, here on Revolver’s Side Two, Paul speaks to Jane again, first in the uplifting “Good Day Sunshine” where he praises her for being with him on a sunny day, and then in the dark and poignant ballad, “For No One” and finally, in the brass-accompanied riot that is “Got to Get You Into My Life.” All three Side Two songs express Paul’s longing, in meter and verse, for his lady.

 

“Got to Get You Into My Life” – though admittedly a double entendre – a crafty nod to Paul’s use of marijuana – is in a basic, literal sense his mission statement.

 

“And then, suddenly, I see you!

Did I tell you I need you?

Every single day of my life!”

 

Song after song, ballad after ballad, Paul has been telling Jane (and hence, all of us) one thing: “Got to get you into my life.” And, the fact that Jane has justifiably resisted and sought her own very successful theatrical career has only inspired Paul to continue penning attention-getting poems set to music for her.

 

By 1966, however, it has become fairly obvious to them both that the relationship isn’t working. In fact, when Paul begs her to come home, “she takes her time and doesn’t feel she has to hurry…she no longer needs him.”  They’re at irreconcilable odds, really.

 

Perhaps, a clue to their unresolved issues is to be found in the way in which “For No One” was recorded. Because the entire song is Paul and only Paul. George and John are not needed. Ringo will play percussion…but Paul alone – the center of attention – will sing and perform his composition on the Steinway grand. Perhaps that is why for Jane Asher:

 

“… in her eyes, you see nothing,
No sign of love behind the tears
Cried for no one…

A love that should have lasted years.”

 

With the wrong instruments, “For No One” could have come off as “whiny and cheesy.” Instead, the composition (with the phenomenal clavichord work of Sir George Martin and the breath-taking French horn touches of Alan Civil) is elegant and deeply tragic on several levels. Because not only are Paul and Jane falling apart, but The Beatles are beginning to unravel as well.  When we hear those last words: “There will be times when all the things [they] said will fill your head. You won’t forget [them],” we somehow flash to the eroding friendship between John, Paul, George, and Ringo. We sigh.

 

And so, in the guise of his former, chipper self, Paul makes one last attempt on Revolver to woo Jane back again. Not discounting the very popular “marijuana theory” (which certainly exists on one level), in “Got to Get You Into My Life,” Paul expresses undiminished determination to get Jane into his life. He jauntily and emphatically speaks to her in hopes that the visions prevalent in “For No One” will never come to be. McCartney sings:

 

“What can I do, what can I be?

When I’m with you, I want to stay there!

And you know I’ll never leave…and if I do,

I know the way there!”

 

Here interestingly, Paul speaks his soul to Jane in an ear-catching new way, via a SOUL song! As Dr. Kit O’Toole, author of Songs We Were Singing: Guided Tours Through The Beatles Lesser Known Tracks has stated:

 

“The horns [in “Got to Get You Into My Life”] were a remnant of the band’s original idea to record Revolver at Stax Records in Memphis. They had long emulated the bass and drum sounds found on American soul records, and they wanted to extend that. So they recruited guitarist Steve Cropper of Booker T. and the MG’s to produce Revolver, and they asked Brian Epstein to “make it happen.” But all the Memphis studios wanted exorbitant fees to host The Beatles, so the boys ended up back in Abbey Road. But the soul sound still intrigued them, so “Got to Get You into My Life” is their interpretation of the genre.”  

 

“Got to Get You Into My Life” is one of Paul’s final attempts to catch Jane’s ear and to express his soul’s need for her lifelong companionship.

 

“You want her, you need her…

And yet you don’t believe her

When she says her love is dead:

You think she needs you.”

 

Both “Got to Get You Into My Life” and “For No One” are the swan songs for a love that could not survive. However, on 15 May 1967, when Paul met Linda Eastman in London’s Bag O’Nails, his long-deferred dream became reality. He got her into his life, and in that moment, everything changed.


Jude Southerland Kessler is the author of the John Lennon Series: www.johnlennonseries.com

 

Jude is represented by 910 Public Relations — @910PubRel on Twitter and 910 Public Relations on Facebook.

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Something We Can Smile About

Over the last few months of 2016, we began taking a look at the songs on Revolver…and reminding ourselves why it was such a pivotal LP for the lads. Together (combining our Fest blog and your comments) we scratched beneath the surface of the music and lyrics to uncover new insights. Just as the year ended, we neatly completed our examination of Side One.

 

Now…

 

…perfect for the beginning of a brand-new year with myriad possibilities is “Good Day Sunshine.” Wisely selected to kick off Side Two of Revolver, this buoyant ditty expresses all the optimism contained in every “chance to begin again.” Martin employed its bright melody and uplifting lyrics to woo Beatles fans into the second half of the LP. After the anger rife in “Taxman,” the loneliness pervading “Eleanor Rigby,” and the deeply somber nature of “She Said She Said,” Paul McCartney’s “Good Day Sunshine” offered listeners something heartening, something upbeat, something to laugh (or smile) about.

 

Furthermore, for those fans who (by the close of Side One) were despairing that The Beatles they knew and loved had vanished – morphing into Revolver’s highly-engineered group of complex musicians – this song provided a return to The Beatles of yore. This is the way young John and Paul used to sound when they performed in Liverpool College of Art’s Room 21 at lunchtime. This is the sound of The Beatles, live at the BBC. This is the unplugged sound of The Beatles of old. And fans were glad of it.

 

Although both John and Paul admitted that Paul wrote 95 percent of “Good Day Sunshine,” the number is, without a doubt, highly influenced by John. But not John Lennon this time: the inspiration came from John Sebastian.

 

Over in America, Sebastian, the Greenwich Village-based lead singer and songwriter for The Lovin’ Spoonful, was hitting America for six! In 1965, he’d scored with “You Didn’t Have to Be So Nice” and swiftly followed up with “Do You Believe in Magic?”  Then in ’66, he had another big, big, BIG hit: “Daydream.” So, the very observant James Paul McCartney handily employed Sebastian’s easy-does-it, lazy-days techniques in his new composition, “Good Day Sunshine.”

 

In keeping with the Spoonful genre, the Revolver song’s lyrics were lighthearted and happy-go-lucky:

 

“She feels good! She knows she’s lookin’ fine!

I’m so proud to know that she is mine!”

 

That’s about as simple and content as a lyric line can get. Spoonful-esque! But remembering Russell Reising’s caveat that on Revolver, “there are no silly love songs,” savvy listeners long suspected that somewhere in this McCartney number, there was a deeper, hidden meaning. In the volume, All the Songs, the collaborative authors suggested that when Paul sang, “I feel good in a special way,” he might have been slyly alluding to his Revolver era fascination with marijuana. If this is true, then “Good Day Sunshine” was the predecessor to “Got to Get You Into My Life,” and both songs boasted a second level of meaning. (“More here than meets the eye!”)

 

But honestly, for original, old-time Beatles fans, added incentives to enjoy “Good Day Sunshine” were not necessary. All of the traditional “fab” ingredients were already present in the mix. The Beatles’ winning love song formula was there. George Martin’s honky-tonk piano lead was expert. The Lennon/McCartney backing vocals were spot on. And, as Robert Rodriguez pointed out in his insightful book, Revolver: How The Beatles Re-Imagined Rock’n’Roll, Ringo’s “cymbal splashes and added percussion touch-ups, such as handclaps” were welcome custom. Finally, the entire offering was infused with McCartney magic.

 

Sometimes less truly is more. And this unadorned, joyful ditty proves that rule. Fans who were bewildered and confused by “She Said She Said” were – after singing or toe-tapping along with “Good Day Sunshine” – pulled back into the fold. They leaned in once again, hovering over the turntable and listening…just as George Martin had predicted they would. They reconnected.

 

Then…the second selection on Side Two began and Revolver, once more, took a dark and unexpected turn! What was it? And to whom was that next song written?

 

See you next time for “And Your Bird Can Sing.”


1. For those unfamiliar with this British phrase, “hitting someone for six” means making an impact. It originate in cricket when a player hits six off the bowling.

2. Turner, Steve, A Hard Day’s Write, 112-113.

3. Reising, Russell, “Vacio Luminoso,” 127.

4. Rodriguez, Revolver: How The Beatles Re-Imagined Rock’n’Roll, 144.


Jude Southerland Kessler is the author of the John Lennon Series: www.johnlennonseries.com

 

Jude is represented by 910 Public Relations — @910PubRel on Twitter and 910 Public Relations on Facebook.

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I Know What It’s Like…

“I know what it’s like to be dead…I know what it is to be sad…”

 

John Lennon was the master of understatement. In a few, simple words, he could summarize a powerful idea, minimizing the emotion behind it. (To wit, “All we are saying is ‘Give peace a chance.'”) He could present a great concept unobtrusively, giving it a chance to be mulled over and accepted.

 

And that is exactly what John is doing in “She Said, She Said,” the compelling closer song to Side One of Revolver.

 

Possibly no one who ever lived better understood “what it’s like to be dead” and “what it is to be sad.” At age 4½, his parents bitterly wrangled over which of them was to have custody of John. Fred Lennon wanted to take his son away to New Zealand to live with him, and Julia Lennon wanted her son to be reared in Liverpool.

 

Whether Fred and Julia put the boy in between them and made him choose one or the other (the traditional point of view, and the version John always recited) or whether Fred and Julia came to an amicable agreement about John’s care (as Fred’s friend, Billy Hall told Mark Lewisohn…though admittedly, Hall was not actually in the room when this discussion took place), the fact of the matter is, Fred exited John’s life. And Julia – for extremely complicated reasons of her own – did return John to Liverpool but dropped the boy that afternoon at her sister Mimi’s house, where John was to live permanently. And, Julia reluctantly walked away to live a life of her own.

 

Over the next few years, as John struggled to adapt (and was – no wonder! – expelled for misbehavior from Mosspits Infant’s School), he thought quite a bit about his vanished parents. Fred’s frequent letters to his son were destroyed by Mimi, who claimed (and perhaps truly believed) that she was creating stability for the child.

 

Therefore, John – in essence – thought his father was, at first, angry with him. And then later, missing in action. And finally, perhaps dead. Even though John reveled in the love that his wonderful Uncle George provided – clung to that love like a life raft – the boy still longed for his father. And with each silent, passing year, John understood better and better what it was like to be dead. What it was to be sad.

 

Similarly, John’s mother, Julia, – though living only a couple of miles away, in Spring Wood – honored Mimi’s request to minimize intervention into John’s life. Julia was rarely seen, and even when she was, the reunion was brief. But it was enough for John. As Fred’s memory slowly faded, Julia’s did not. He ached for his mother. And John tried everything he could think of (good behavior, bad behavior, wit, talent, and imagination) to reach her…to no avail.

 

The only constants in John’s young life were his decorous Aunt Mimi and his beloved Uncle “Ge’rge.” But the summer before John turned 15 years old – when he most needed a male role model and a best mate – kind, funny, gentle Uncle George was taken from him forever. And, as John roared and flailed in the throes of unstoppable hysteria, he knew once again what it was like to be dead…what it was to be sad.

 

You probably know the rest of the story: how Julia returned at this crucial moment in her son’s life and offered herself as his best friend (not his mum, of course…he already had a mother in Mimi). Julia became his constant companion and John, her shadow. She encouraged the teenager to “sag off school” and bike to her house for ginger beer, sweet cakes, and rock’n’roll. She taught her son to play guitar; she spun her Buddy Holly and Elvis records for him. She gave him the gift of extemporaneous laughter. And in the magic of the moment, Julia whispered to the boy that he had “music in bones.” She said, she said that he was destined to form a band – to see his name in lights, to shine on. And for a time, all was well.

 

But on 15 July 1958, Julia was hit by a drunk off-duty policeman and killed. And in that instant, John changed. He had lost his father, his uncle, and now his mother – twice. And now, in a deep, violet darkness of the soul, John came to understand intimately what it was like to be dead…what it was to be sad.

 

That, of course, explains August of 1960: The Beatles, happily en route to Hamburg, stop at the Arnhem War Memorial for a snack and a smoke. Manager Allan Williams urges all of the boys out of the minibus for a roadside picnic and photograph. But John will not exit. He refuses to “muck about” in a graveyard…to smile and chit-chat in the presence of death. And so, alone, John broods on the bus, shaken by his surroundings. And though Williams berates the boy for his obstinacy, John turns a deaf ear. Because even on his best of days, John remembers what it’s like to be dead, what it is to be sad. And he does not take it lightly.

 

Now…substitute the name “Peter Fonda” for “Allan Williams.”
Substitute “Hollywood gala” for “Arnhem War Memorial.”
Substitute “August 1965” for “August 1960.”
And having made those few changes, the backstory for “She Said, She Said” emerges:

 

At an August 1965 Hollywood gala, John blanches when Peter Fonda “rambles on” about his first-hand knowledge of death. Rattled, John flash-fires at the American film star and silences him forthwith…not because Fonda is downing John’s drug-induced mellow, but because Fonda is trampling on sacred ground. Introducing the topic of death as party prattle – as idle chatter – is not, to John’s way of thinking, simply “irritating.” The American star has been grossly inappropriate. He has opened old wounds, and John is left panting for air.

 

John swiftly quells the subject, and the party moves on. But the damage has already been done, and in the months that follow, John can never shush the lingering, whispering memories that Fonda’s casual party boast (“I know what it’s like to be dead!”) engendered. The phrase haunts Lennon. And so, just as John in the past had transformed many other wounds and torments into music, he begins to weave Fonda’s hellish echo into something unforgettable as well. John begins to write “She Said, She Said.”

 

But this time, however, John isn’t writing just for himself and about himself. He begins to compose the tragic tale of all four Beatles in the year of our Lord, 1966. And the story isn’t easy to convey…

 

You see, in 1966, The Beatles were living under a dome of stress that would have collapsed most organizations and failed most friendships. The beleaguered boys were getting ready for yet another World Tour, despite the fact that they’d grown bitter and cynical about the grueling experience. Brian Epstein’s heavy-handed influence. which had always held them on course was slipping away, and the boys were arguing with one another – heavily involving themselves in drugs as pressures all about them were mounting.

Unfeeling “takers” were attacking them from all sides: screaming fans who didn’t hear them when they sang; journalists and paparazzi who didn’t see how very bored and tortured the boys were, and unfeeling powers-that-be at Capitol, EMI, and Northern Music who didn’t care that The Beatles were utterly exhausted. To all of these users and shakers, the four boys were virtually invisible. It was a harsh reality.

 

Indeed, John, Paul, George, and Ringo began to feel as if they “had never been born,” as if only “The Collective” – the band known as The Beatles – really mattered. The four unique individuals who had once comprised the group had, somewhere along the line, been sacrificed (in true Help! fashion), “jolly with a knife!”

 

This is John’s message in “She Said, She Said.” In simple terms, he conveys each of The Beatles’ feelings. He speaks in muted understatement, presenting his friends’ great hopes and even greater fears as they face the end of touring and the beginning of “the yet-to-come.”

 

This anguished song is pure performance art, a vivid medium through which John can offer listeners the graphic opportunity to see, hear, feel, and experience what he and Paul and George and Ringo were enduring. As the song swirls up and up to confusion and clamor, each of us is given the chance to ride out the mania, to understand. We are privy to madness.

 

“She Said, She Said” is a rare sortie into the most intimate emotions of The Beatles in 1966…and into the solitary, broken life of John Lennon, for whom death and sadness were familiar escorts. Of this John sings, as Revolver finds the playout grooves and Side One concludes. Of course, on the flip side, there was more to come.


Jude Southerland Kessler is the author of the John Lennon Series: www.johnlennonseries.com

 

Jude is represented by 910 Public Relations — @910PubRel on Twitter and 910 Public Relations on Facebook.

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It’s just a Submarine, dammit! (or is it?)

The Beatles were very lenient with the public’s interpretations of their songs.

 

In fact, only one or two times did the lads insist that the public’s comments about their lyrics was “dead wrong.” Toward the end of his life, John Lennon was adamant that “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” was not about LSD! (And Paul McCartney backed him up on this). Similarly, Paul once said, “Personally, I think you can put any interpretation you want on anything! But when someone suggests that “Can’t Buy Me Love” is about a prostitute, I draw the line! That’s going too far.” (1)  But other than these two exceptions, as a rule, The Beatles welcomed the public’s multi-colored explanations of Beatles lyrics. In fact, they came to expect it.

 

I can just imagine Paul “laying in bed in the Asher’s garret,” (2)  working on the lyrics for “Yellow Submarine.” I can almost see the glimmer in his eye as he imagines what the “average Jill or Joe,” the scholarly professor, and the protester are going to make of his “simple children’s song.” It must have amused him.

 

The thing is…every single Beatles LP included a song for Ringo. And this is Ringo’s Revolver song, written in his tight vocal range and fitted for his “down-to-earth,” genuine personality. Ringo possessed a gentleness that appealed to many people, including children. (Hence, his work as Mr. Conductor on Shining Time’s (Series One) Thomas the Tank Engine show and his I Wanna Be Santa Claus CD years later). Paul’s placing of Ringo in the classic role of storyteller for “Yellow Submarine” was ideal. It worked.

 

But almost as soon as the LP was released, critics began to offer up far-flung, complex explanations of the magical song’s “deep and hidden meanings.” Here are just a few:

 

  • 1.) Sir Paul’s Explanation – Paul says he was trying to create “a story, a sort of [tale of] an ancient mariner, telling the young kids where he’d lived.” Tim Riley points out that Paul wanted to create a song “suited to the drummer’s humble charm,” (3) an enchanted story of a lovely life beneath the sea. To accomplish this, Paul’s original tale was populated by many submarines of vivid colors, but as McCartney honed the story, it became the narrative of one yellow submarine and the magical people aboard this legendary vessel. (4)

 

In fact, Paul told author Barry Miles, “I was thinking of it as a song for Ringo, which it eventually turned out to be…I quite like children’s things; I like children’s minds and imagination. So it didn’t seem uncool to me to have a pretty surreal idea that was also a children’s idea. I thought also, with Ringo being so good with children—a knockabout-uncle type—it might not be a bad idea for him to have a children’s song, rather than a very serious song. He wasn’t that keen on singing.” (5)

 

In short, on Side One of Revolver – a highly complex, intense compendium of thought-provoking songs – Paul’s concept was to offer up a simple ditty with “short words…which would be picked up quickly and sung by children.” (6) It was to be a breath of fresh air, as it were.

 

  • 2.) Donovan’s Story – During the writing of Revolver, Donovan and McCartney were close friends, in the habit of dropping in on one another at a moment’s notice to share their latest compositions. Donovan says, “One of the songs Paul played for me was about a yellow submarine, but he was missing a line or two. He asked me if I’d like to make a contribution. I left the room and came back with ‘sky of blue and sea of green.'” (7) And with an insider’s eye on the song’s composition, Donovan goes on to say that he felt Paul was using “Yellow Submarine” to convey the story of The Beatles.

 

Indeed, on the 2 May 2014  Howard Stern Show, Donovan stated: “It’s not really a submarine; it’s really about the life that [The Beatles] had been forced into living inside their own lives in the white tower called ‘Beatle fame’ and not really having any contact with reality out there anymore…you know, we are insulated from the outer world.” Donovan believed that “the friends aboard the submarine” were The Beatles’ entourage and close friends/associates, and that the sea was the protective bubble surrounding the group, encasing them while at the same time, cutting them off from life at large.

 

  • 3.) The Drug Innuendo Theory – In the summer of 1966, a popular drug had been released in New York: Nembutal capsules which were large, elongated, bluntly-rounded, and yellow – thus acquiring the nickname “Yellow Submarines.” But McCartney – who had no problem admitting that he used marijuana and enjoyed it – resisted the implication that his song celebrated the new drug. Paul insisted that the only “yellow submarines” he’d ever tasted were sugary Greek sweets that had to be dropped into water to be consumed. (8)  As the drug culture loudly contended that The Beatles were giving them a “secret nod of approval,” Robert Christgua of Esquire magazine vehemently refuted this claim. He wrote:  “I can’t believe that The Beatles indulge in the simplistic kind of symbolism that turns a yellow submarine into a Nembutal or a banana—it is just a yellow submarine, dammit!” 

 

  • 4.) The Political Statement Philosophy – Because a submarine is, as Robert Rodriguez has aptly pointed out, “a piece of military equipment,” (9) it was only moments after the song’s release that radicals began applauding The Beatles for the strong anti-Vietnam statement espoused in “Yellow Submarine.” In fact, one imaginative reviewer wrote: “The Yellow Submarine may suggest, in the context of The Beatles’ anti-Vietnam War statement in Tokyo this year, that the society over which Old Glory floats is as isolated and morally irresponsible as a nuclear submarine.” (10) Jumping on the bandwagon in droves, various 1966-1967 protest groups embraced “Yellow Submarine” as their anti-war anthem. But none of The Beatles seconded this notion or gave it credence.

 

Naturally, there are other wild-eyed theories out there, some as far-fetched as the notion that the song proves John Lennon’s obsession with phallic-symbols (echoed by John’s submarine bath scene in A Hard Day’s Night). But since John had nothing to do with the writing of “Yellow Submarine,” this argument rather collapses under its own weight, doesn’t it?

 

So…what say you? Which theory do you believe? Paul proclaimed, “I knew ‘Yellow Submarine’ would get connotations, but it really was a children’s song.” (11) Or was it? Send us your thoughts, opinions, and ideas, and we’ll share them with one another. Furthermore, if you have a theory we haven’t discussed, send that along as well! We’d love to hear from you!

 

The measure of a great work of literature is that decades after its creation, the work’s depth of meaning is still being debated and discussed. Paul might have set out to create a unpretentious, light-hearted song, but for The Beatles, a masterpiece was always the final destination. And so it is here as well.   


1. The Beatles, The Anthology, 114.
2. Turner, A Hard Day’s Write, 198, and Riley, Tell Me Why, 187.
3. Riley, Tell Me Why, 188.
4. Turner, 108.
5. Miles, Many Years from Now, 286-287.
6. Turner, 108.
7. Turner, 108.
8. Turner, 109.
9. Rodriguez, Robert, Revolver: How The Beatles Re-Imagined Rock’n’Roll, 140.
10. Doggett, Peter, There’s a Riot Going On: Revolutionaries, Rock Stars, and the Rise and Fall of the ’60s, 107–108.  
11. Turner, 109


Jude Southerland Kessler is the author of the John Lennon Series: www.johnlennonseries.com

 

Jude is represented by 910 Public Relations — @910PubRel on Twitter and 910 Public Relations on Facebook.

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Love You To…????

This phrase I understand: “Love you, too!” (Meaning: “Love you, also.”)

 

And yes, I grasp the vaguer meaning of this phrase: “Love you two.” (As in: “I love John first, but I love you two”).

 

But now, consider the curious phrase: “Love you to…” — It’s a quandary! It’s an unfinished preposition waiting for a following noun. (As in: “Love you to death!” or “Love you to pieces!” or “Love you to the end of time!”)

 

Or… it could be an unfinished infinitive waiting for a following verb. (As in: “Love you to love me.” Or “Love you to listen.” Or “Love you to comprehend what I’m saying”).

 

But as George Harrison’s title stands – without any other nouns, verbs, or explanations to complete it – the phrase is incomplete, unclear, and ambiguous. And really, that is where George Harrison was when he penned this 1966 song. Recently returned from a trip to India where he had begun sitar studies under Ravi Shankar and the study of the Hindu religion, George was an excited newbie. He was completely enthusiastic, but green – an amazed young man muddling through the murky waters of a complex, new faith and an equally complex mode of musical expression. George was a bit overcome.

 

Recently married to Pattie Boyd, George wanted to make this song a love ballad for his wife. He really did! But the tenets of his new faith kept pulling at him, sternly reminding him that:

 

A lifetime is so short,
A new one can’t be bought…

The brevity of existence kept bothering George, niggling at him – and those beliefs transformed his love song into a serious warning refrain: a song about living not only for today, but also living a life worthy of the hereafter.

 

George tried to shrug off his feelings of impending doom: of death at his back, of time running out, of life slipping away, but in “Love You To,” he failed to escape that weighty influence. Even when employing his famous, droll Harrison humor to minimize the song’s grim overtones, the boy’s wit was still dark:

 

Love me while you can,
Before I’m a dead old man!

 
he said. Despite his best efforts, George’s love song kept slipping into a sermon. No matter what George tried to say (or sing), his bride’s ballad kept circling back around to one all-important message: Life is short; time is limited; live prudently! Or in George’s adaptation:

 

Each day just goes so fast
I turn around, it’s past…

 
It was a bit depressing. As the song neared its close, George struggled to find something to smile about, to celebrate.

 

Well, a bit before The Beatles’ time – when the poets of the Middle Ages felt death pressing down upon them, they decided that the wisest thing to do was to carpe diem…to “seize the moment!” They decided to make hay while the sun shines! To quote Medieval poet Robert Herrick’s words, “Gather ye rosebuds while you may!”

 

And in 1966, George reached the same conclusion. He decided the very same thing. At the end of his song, he advised Pattie (and all of us) to go for the gusto! To grab happiness while you can! To smile while you still have teeth!

 

Make love all day long!
Make love singing songs!

 

he advised us. It was the only viable solution to mortality that George could offer.

 

By The Summer of Love (1967) when George released “Within You, Without You” as the opener for Side 2 of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, both his faith and his acumen on the sitar had reached a higher plane. By then, he was able to speak with more depth and wisdom. But here on Revolver, George is clearly grappling with a vast belief system and an intricate musical genre, so he falls back on immediate gratification as a ready, easy solution.

 

Or maybe…maybe George’s answer was, in fact, the very best solution anyone could offer.

 

In 1967, John Lennon would so famously tell the world that, “Love is all you need.” And here, George is voicing the exact same sentiment. In light of death, aging, and fleeting existence, the youngest Beatle turns to Pattie and to us, advising everyone to cling tightly to love. Sage advice, I think. Perhaps our kid wasn’t such a newbie after all.

 


Jude Southerland Kessler is the author of the John Lennon Series: www.johnlennonseries.com

 

Jude is represented by 910 Public Relations — @910PubRel on Twitter and 910 Public Relations on Facebook.

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Only Sleeping?

Anyone who considered John Lennon lazy didn’t know John well. John “worked smart, not hard,” but he worked without ceasing. Even while piled up in bed with his many pillows and guitar, John was never indolent. He was composing songs, listening to the telly for ideas, reading and scribbling notes on a sheet of paper — discovering concepts that he would later put to use.

 

His Aunt Mimi had taught the boy to create: to “Do something productive, John!” (whether that “something” was writing, composing, meditating, reading, listening, or absorbing). And the place where John was most creative was in his room. In his early Hamburg days, John wrote about this topic in There’s A Place. He sang:

 

“There’s a place, where I can go,

when I feel low, when I feel blue…

and it’s my mind…”

 

So where did he retreat to live inside the mind, to be inspired? Well, for John, that place where dreams could translate into beauty was always found in bed. Even as a little boy, John sat on his bedspread above the Mendips’ glassed-in porch and cut out dancing paper skeletons, illustrated his “Sport and Speed” serial stories, and sadly, sang himself to sleep. Bed was his retreat, the place where he could imagine.

 

So, in 1966, when he penned “I’m Only Sleeping” for Revolver, John created not a bored and listless throw-away number but a powerful and ironic song. The irony falls upon the word, “ONLY.” John cheekily saying to us, “I’m only writing a great poem.” “I’m only building something magical.” “I’m only composing.”

 

What Lennon is doing in his room – in his bed – is bigger than “running everywhere at such a speed.” He’s chosen the higher road; he’s chosen to stop, breathe, think, and create. And wonderfully, John’s letting you and me into his half-awake, half-asleep realm: The Land of Incredible Ideas.

 

For the first time in a long time, John turned to “our kid,” to his little brother (as it were) George, to help him bring this dream realm to life. In EMI Studio 2, John and George began the song’s recording, softly playing acoustic guitars in the key of E minor. They performed a bit faster than John wanted the song to be recorded, making it possible for George Martin to slow and mellow the sound, post-recording. (1)

 

But that wasn’t all…George Harrison had something special up his sleeve. He announced that he had composed a lead melody line intended intentionally to be played backward. More specifically, Harrison composed this line so that the tape could be run backwards and then and then only, the tune that George wanted to hear would emerge. (2)

 

But there’s more: Not only did Harrison play this line once on his guitar, but George played it again using his Gibson SG run through a fuzz box – varying the lines very slightly so that when they were played together they produced a blurry, ethereal sound. Dreamlike, unreal.

 

So if we’re being totally honest here, “I’m Only Sleeping” isn’t just a John Lennon creation, it’s a Lennon/Harrison composition…a superb collaboration that well exceeds their early endeavor, “Cry for a Shadow.”

 

For those out there who still see this complex song as a nod to the escape world of sleep, you’re also right! In 1966, John was suffering from what today we would diagnose as “clinical depression.” He had all the symptoms. He had gained weight; he was lashing out at Cynthia, the other Beatles, and the EMI staff. He was bored with everything and recklessly displeased with everything. John seemed to have lost interest in the world around him. Therefore, he retreated more and more often into the altered world of drugs and the magical, shadow world of sleep.  On a literal level, that explanation of his mood does exist in this song.

 

But “I’m Only Sleeping” is about so very much more. The key to its depth and meaning can be found in the lyrics.  In “Tomorrow Never Knows,” when John is singing about merely escaping reality, he “turns off his mind, relaxes, and floats downstream.” But in “I’m Only Sleeping,” he intentionally says,

 

“When I’m in the middle of a dream
Stay in bed, float up stream…”

 

Float up stream? Notice here that John’s fully-engaged and actually moving against the current. He’s willing himself to progress, to achieve, to be inspired…and to turn inspiration into music. Surely, that’s not escape, is it? No, this is something else.

 

“I’m Only Sleeping” mattered to John. He was very particular about the way he wanted it to be recorded. When he heard the initial playback of the song, John asked that Paul be taken off the vibraphone. Instead, John wanted Paul returned to his Hofner bass, to render that mellow, soft, wistful quality that you hear between the lines. John wanted to “make it dreamier and more mystical sounding.” (3) Paul was even instructed to yawn around Minute Two.

 

What John was trying to recreate was “the place” where he could go when he was low, when he was blue. He was, uncharacteristically, inviting us in. John Lennon was admitting us into his inner sanctum. That was and still is quite a privilege.

 

But instead of being honored, many music critics and fans criticized the song and the singer. They pointed fingers at him and called him slothful.

 

“No good deed goes unpunished,” John often smirked. Then, he retreated to bed, to the kingdom of imagination. And glaring, he closed the door.


1. Guesdon, Jean-Michel and Margotin, Phlippe, All The Songs, 328 Rodriguez, Robert. Revolver: How The Beatles Re-Imagined Rock’n’Roll, 101. The voice was over-dubbed and sped up while the rhythm track was slowed down.

2. Emerick, Geoff. Here, There, and Everywhere, 124 and conversation with Geoff Emerick, May 2016. Emerick is very clear about the fact that George really struggled to record this bit for the song making the recording session “one hard day’s night.”

3. Guesdon, Jean-Michel and Margotin, Phlippe, All The Songs, 328 and Rodriguez, Robert. Revolver: How The Beatles Re-Imagined Rock’n’Roll, 130. Rodriguez’s work is a “not to be missed” book on Revolver.


Jude Southerland Kessler is the author of the John Lennon Series: www.johnlennonseries.com

 

Jude is represented by 910 Public Relations — @910PubRel on Twitter and 910 Public Relations on Facebook.

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All The Lonely People

Revolver: It was a serious LP about solemn issues, and no song expressed the theme of this album better than “Eleanor Rigby.”

 

Ah, look at all the lonely people!

 

That formal “Greek chorus” opening the song boldly announced to us all the “grand motif” of the songs that would follow (and repeated the theme of “Taxman,” which had just preceded it). “Ah, look at all the lonely people!” It was Revolver’s seven-word synopsis, in all its intricacy and creative glory.

 

So why is “Eleanor Rigby” not the opening song on the LP, then? Why is it placed as the second track on the record?

 

For the listener, “Taxman” is the equivalent of a novel’s “hook,” that exciting chapter that draws the reader into the book at large.  But then, in Chapter Two – in “Eleanor Rigby” – the reader settles into the narrative and begins the book in earnest. He or she takes a breath, sits back, and listens…begins to pay attention and absorb the theme of what is to come.

 

“Taxman” immediately grabs our attention, but in “Eleanor Rigby” (to the moving, poignant sound of a string octet [1]), we are given a quiet moment to stop, think, and preview every single issue to follow on this album: isolation, loneliness, love desired, love denied, and finally, death. In the storied lives of Eleanor Rigby and Father McKenzie, we get a glimpse of all this is to come: the irreparable heartbreak in “For No One,” the aching need and hunger in the seemingly jaunty “Got to Get You Into My Life [2],” the anger in “And Your Bird Can Sing,” and even the deep depression of “She Said She Said.” It’s all there.

 

For The Beatles, this song couldn’t have come at a better time. A fissure was on its way to becoming a cleft (bass and treble), and the cleft would eventually become a split. But right now, it was only a fissure. Barely there, and yet, still a problem. But magically, this lovely song about isolation and loneliness, for a time, bridged that fragile gap and brought The Beatles close together again. If only for a short time.

 

They met at John’s Kenwood and began tackling “Eleanor Rigby” as a team. Paul had already developed the basic melody, but many of the lyrics still eluded him. The central character (eventually Eleanor) had inadequately evolved from “Ola Na Tungee” to “Miss Daisy Hawkins” without Paul’s feeling that this was right [3]. And similarly, he was searching for a story about the parish priest. And so, he left London behind and went out into the night, in search of a little help from his friends.

 

According to Pete Shotton, when Paul arrived at John’s “Kenwood,” John, George, Ringo, and Pete were all there [4]. John, bored with the telly, suggested they all go up to his recording studio “’n play a bit of music [5].” And that is when Paul offered up “this little tune here [that] keeps poppin’ into me head, but I haven’t got very far with it [6].” And so the lads listened…and began to offer suggestions.

 

Pete pointed out that the fans would “think that’s your poor old dad” in the song “left all alone in Liverpool to darn his own socks [7].” And alarmed, Paul quickly agreed: they needed a new name for the lonely cleric. So Pete, thumbing through a phone book, began to call out Mc-names to the gathered group. “McVicar?” he shouted. Hilarious…and so, not appropriate for the song’s disposition. “McKenzie?” Right. It fit the melody’s patter, and besides, they’d once known that Northwich Memorial Hall compere, Tommy McKenzie. “Good man – Tommy!” one of them said. “Yeah, right, give the lad a nod!”

 

So Father McKenzie it was…a holy man wholly alone, solitary, and brooding. But doing what exactly? “Darnin’ his socks in the night,” Ringo suggested. “Yeah, right!” “That!” And it was adopted on the spot.

 

“Writin’ sermons that no one will hear,” John claimed to have added later, in a room alone with Paul [8]. And that, too, became part of the song.

 

It was George, however, who suggested the most memorable line of all: “Ah, look at all the lonely people [9].” A simple phrase. Perfect. It spoke eloquently of solitary Eleanor, unloved and unlovely, picking up not her bouquet, but fallen rice littering an empty church where a wedding had been. It captured the spirit of the devoted, solitary man of God whose entire life’s work had (alas) saved no one. It was the quintessential line of hopelessness that hovered over this beautiful song of longing.

 

The Beatles: each one of them added something. (Even Pete, who’d once been a QuarryMan and their mate in the Jacaranda [10]). For several hours, the lads worked together, standing close – shoulder to shoulder, as it were – and in that small bit of time, the fissure closed.

 

In days to come, Paul would record the song alone, with John and George only brought in to sing harmony. No other contribution needed.

 

In years to come, they would argue about who had contributed what that seminal night.

 

Paul would say he had most of the song written before he even visited Kenwood. John would say, “Of course there isn’t a line of theirs [Ringo’s, George’s and Pete’s] in the song because I finally went off into a room with Paul, and we finished the song [11].” Pete would continue to insist that McKenzie was entirely his, but others would deny it vehemently. The Beatles would forget the night they came together as the cleft widened to a split, and they would go their separate ways.

 

In the summer of 1966, The Beatles lived in a dream, but it wasn’t always a pleasant one. And that night, when they all said, “T’rah” and motored away, John stood at the window, wearing a face that seemed content, yet was anything but. Dousing the light and trudging upstairs did he hum, “All the lonely people, where do they all come from? All the lonely people, where do they all belong?”

 

It’s possible that he did. And the fissure ran.


1. Rodriguez, Robert. Revolver: How The Beatles Re-Imagined Rock’n’Roll, 132.

2. Of course, Paul famously stated that “Got to Get You Into My Life” was a sly reference to his new fascination with marijuana, but like all Beatles’ songs, “there’s more here than meets the eye.” We’ll discuss the complex levels of meaning in this song soon!

3. Guesdon, Jean-Michel and Phillipe Margotin, All the Songs: The Story Behind Every Beatles Release, 326.

4. Shotton, Pete, John Lennon: In My Life, 123. Note that Guesdon and Margotin state the Mal Evans and Neil Aspinall were also there. Pete does not include them in his account of the evening.

5. Shotton, 123.

6. Shotton, 123.

7. Shotton, 123 and Rodriguez, 82. Pete says that he was the one consulting the phone book. Rodriguez tells us that Paul was the one consulting the phone book. In any event, a phone book was consulted and the group conferred on last names.

8. Guesdon, Jean-Michel and Phillipe Margotin, All the Songs: The Story Behind Every Beatles Release, 326. This information was gleaned from David Sheff’s Playboy Interviews with John and Yoko.

9. Shotton, 123.

10. Pete’s contribution might have been quite significant indeed. We are told in Rodriguez’s book that “It was Shotton that came up with the key development of having these two lonely people cross paths, only in death.” (p. 82)

11. Sheff, The Playboy Interviews.


Jude Southerland Kessler is the author of the John Lennon Series: www.johnlennonseries.com

 

Jude is represented by 910 Public Relations — @910PubRel on Twitter and 910 Public Relations on Facebook.

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The Fest for Beatles Fans Dialogue on Revolver, Part 1

It was the blistering and bewildering summer of ’66. The Westinghouse air conditioner humming in my bedroom window provided more noise than relief as Emily Moss, Emily Wofford, and Patty Dalme waited impatiently as I carefully removed Revolver from its strange black and white cardboard sleeve.

 

I placed it on the turntable. Moss ate sliced lemons, dipped liberally into a saucer of fine sugar -– a dentist’s daydream of potential cavities. Patty and Emily smacked their Double Bubble and lazily thumbed through the latest Datebook. And, gauging my audience, I adjusted the volume on my new Magnavox record player as the count-in to “Taxman” began. That was the blistering part.

 

The half-hour or so that followed was the bewildering part…as if the summer of 1966 weren’t upsetting enough to four conservative girls from North Louisiana: boys in paisley shirts! Moms in vinyl raincoats and Mary Quant caps! The endless Vietnam War protests…the violent race riots! Our idyllic, happy days, we thought, were all but gone. Life had become bizarre and complex.

 

As we listened to “For No One” and “She Said, She Said” and finally, “Tomorrow Never Knows,” Revolver seemed the strangest part of that odd, pogo stick summer. For a few uncomfortable moments, as the needle found the scratchy play-out grooves, we were afraid to say anything. It took all the courage I could muster to even look at my friends.

 

“Well…” I had recently taken up swearing as an emblem of adult independence, “what the hell has happened to The Beatles?
“Yeah, what was that?” Emily Wofford shook herself the way a cat does when you’ve been holding it closely and set it free.
“That reeeeeeked!” Patty always knew her mind and spoke it.

 

Woffie and I nodded and shook our heads, agreeing but completely disgusted. But there was one in every crowd, or so they said.

 

“Ah, I don’t know,” Emily Moss sprawled out full-length on the bedspread, the way my Mother had told us never to do, “I thought it was pretty damn cool!” That was Moss. Her brother, Donald, was in a real band. He wore fringed, knee-length, moccasin boots, had long hair and colored beads that draped the doorway to his bedroom. If we had a “cutting edge” in our junior high foursome, Moss was definitely the one.

 

“Pffft! Define cool if that’s cool!” Woffie demanded.
“Yeah, well, I hated it,” I cut across the cool issue. “John didn’t even sound like John! And he was hardly on the record anyway! What’s the use of the record if John’s not there?” It was, after all, the Capitol version.

 

And so the discussion went in many bedrooms and family rooms and cars and soda shops and A&W Root Beer Stands and striped-awning Water Ice shops and narrow-laned hamburger joints across America. Was Revolver the most innovative, ground-breaking, breath of fresh air LP that The Beatles had ever created? Or was it junk? Was it art or was it a piece of “The Emperor’s New Clothes?” Was it brilliance or pure nonsense?

 

Over the next few months, I hope you’ll join me as we discuss these things together and share insights into each song on the Revolver LP. Every two weeks, I’ll post established research about Revolver from Beatles music scholars such as Robert Rodriguez, Walter Everett, Bruce Spizer, Anthony Robustelli, Aaron Krerowicz, Tim Riley, and many others. I’ll also propose a few of my own new and original ideas about the tracks.

 

I hope you’ll join in and share your facts and opinions and help us create The Fest for Beatles Fans Blog Dialogue on Revolver. We need YOU (Yeah, you! You in the paisley shirt!) to supplement what I’ll be sharing with additional and interesting information in our Comments Section.

 

There are so many controversial theories about the meanings of these songs and about the ways in which they were created and performed. So at times, we may disagree. That’s wonderful as long as we all disagree politely. All respectful opinions will be posted for everyone to enjoy. We want you all to be a part of this collaborative project and to jump in with your thoughts and information. Let’s work together to examine Revolver 50 years later and to find out what we’ve learned since the Summer of 1966!

 

To kick it all off, tell us your story!!! Where were you when you heard Revolver for the first time? And what, pray tell, did you think about it?

 

Hey, wait a sec…let me grab a cold Fresca and unwrap my Moonpie. Okay, there we go! Now I’m ready. Do tell!

 


Jude Southerland Kessler is the author of the John Lennon Series: www.johnlennonseries.com

 

Jude is represented by 910 Public Relations — @910PubRel on Twitter and 910 Public Relations on Facebook.

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Lure of the Old, need for the New

Revolver played out in the last clicking grooves of the album, and I turned to Emily Moss with a sigh. “John Lennon has lost his mind,” I shivered, quite mournfully. And we sat in silence.

 

Trying desperately to find something to like on the new Beatles LP, we played it over again – Emily and I latching on to “For No One” and “Eleanor Rigby,” even though we were dyed-in-the-wool “John girls.” We felt like traitors. We felt abandoned. “Tomorrow Never Knows” and “She Said, She Said” were train wrecks.

 

“Bloody awful,” Emily feigned in a British accent, pretending to be one of the Beatlettes. And I gulped and nodded.

 

Forty years later, I read Robert Rodriguez’s insightful book, Revolver: How The Beatles Re-imagined Rock’n’Roll, and at last, I got it!! I finally, finally understood the necessity for Revolver – the need for change and growth, the imperative for The Beatles to move beyond the “yeah, yeah, yeah’s” into a wider dimension of creativity. At last, I understood and accepted everything that happened, post-Rubber Soul.

 

People despise change. And I’m one of them.

 

Recently, Campbell’s Corporation changed the label on their “Pork’n’ Beans”…after 40 full years. I almost wept…although how that label affects me personally, I’m not quite sure.

 

And when I saw the utter remodel of The Grapes in Liverpool (it looks NOTHING like The Grapes that The Beatles frequented…nothing at all), I flew into a Mimi Smith swivet of the first order. Furious!

 

But without change, only one thing is certain: decay, death. We have to keep growing.

 

The Fest for Beatles Fans in New York and Chicago changed this past year. We added the Apple Jam Stage, the Faboratory, the skipping club, Beatles nap time, the Beatles hike, and more. We moved into new territory. Some people “read the Rodriguez book” (as I now say when I’m talking about coming into a new understanding of something), and they were on board with the additions to our standard fare. Others are still sitting at the turntable with Emily Moss, completely dismayed.

 

What The Beatles became with the advent of Revolver was a new band, a band with colors where their grey suits had once been, a band with foreign instruments where once there had only been harmonicas, drums, and guitars (with an occasional George Martin piano or two). The Beatles beat the box all to hell. They pushed away the boundaries of “same ole, same ole” and strode boldly into tomorrow.

 

And in pushing, experimenting, trying new things, and reaching out, they grew.

 

The usual is comfortable, and we still have much of that at The Fest. I’m solidly in the camp that still wants Mark Hudson to sing “Working Class Hero.” I LOVE it!!!! I still love the Marketplace, Liverpool’s concerts every night, Bob Abdou and the puppets, and the singing of “Hey Jude!” I cherish tradition. It frames me.

 

But “havin’ read the [Rodriguez] book,” I’m open to the possibility that the future may be better if we add, accept, adopt, and embrace more. Want to try? Anyone with me? Yeah? (yeah, yeah…)

 

 Jude Southerland Kessler is the author of the John Lennon Series: www.johnlennonseries.com

 

Jude is represented by 910 Public Relations — @910PubRel on Twitter and 910 Public Relations on Facebook.

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