Tomorrow Never Knows – The Beatles

TheBeatles11adTheRevolverPhotoSessi

Psychedelia was one of the strong factors in the enduring popularity of The Beatles. Fans love how the boys embraced it, lived it and drew influence from it. They were a product of their times and they painted pictures, wrote poetry, invented lifestyle about these. Everything The Beatles touched turned into gold literally and that’s their genius. Their album Revolver, arguably, is the best for me. It is sandwiched by Rubber Soul and Sgt. Peppers. Many analysts including their contemporaries at that time like Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys consider Rubber Soul the defining album of the group, while many others including Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead lean on Sgt. Peppers. But not a few, in fact equally many, pick Revolver as their fave.

Rubber Soul set the standard for a transitional album. From Please Please Me, With The Beatles, A Hard Day’s Night to Beatles For Sale and Help, all five earlier albums, the boys proved themselves to be pop great songwriters and performers. Beatlemania peaked out in 1965 and all these albums were produced from 1963-1965. Rubber Soul came out at the end of 1965, which demonstrated the quick transition of the group from being pop to serious rock stars; with the introspective In My Life, experiential Norwegian Wood, which introduced sitar as an instrument by the most popular group at that time, bluesy ballad Michelle, influential If I Needed Someone. Two albums later, Sgt. Peppers surprised the fandom, at the time critics were already saying The Beatles were drying up, which changed the landscape of pop music forever.

But Revolver furthered the transition much more than Rubber Soul did. With the opening track Taxman, The Beatles became political critics overnight. Even if they have been politically inclined in their interviews before, Taxman put them at the fore. This is followed by Elanor Rigby a social criticism about alienation, then the instrospective I’m Only Sleeping. Two ballads from Paul set him off as the foremost love song writer churning out Here There and Everywhere and For No One, both songs earned the respect of John.

But not only that. This album also set Paul as the emergent leader of the band minus the drama. Not that there was a leader before, a claim that John himself did not make but if there was one then it would be him. John simply started to drift; the fire in the belly was still very much there, but the pressure of fame and public attention must have weighed heavily on him and it already lost its luster for him I reckon.

Despite this, John still wrote songs that forever set the tone for the direction of the music in the future. Not necessarily technically, but that very restless spirit of creativity manifested in the endless experimentation, and the fusion of anything with depth in the song structure. Tomorrow Never Knows is the testament to this. Inspired by the Tibetan Book of the Dead, John worked out the lyrics that seem to reflect his need for inner peace at the time. Melodically, he infused tape loops to add the psychedelic feel to it. No wonder it’s voted by Ultimate Classic Rock site as the most psychedelic song of the band notwithstanding Sgt. Pepper tracks.  John wanted to sound like Dalai Lama atop a hill and George Martin obliged, the echoing voice John provides that feel.

Years ago a close friend heard this song being played in a car stereo and could not get it. Precisely probably the reason for its value; it is unsettling and disconcerting. Or simply, bad tune out there for my friend. Opinions like that matter of course, but that’s just the way it is. As for me it remains a landmark in Fab Four’s history and fans like us just continue writing about it because the feeling about it just comes back from time to time just like what I felt about it this morning.

Here’s the mono version of the song – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tisjsgsgtZU

Here are some insights from The Beatles and George Martin on the song – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RkirE9uH5SE

Turn off your mind, relax

And float down stream

It is not dying
It is not dying

Lay down all thought
Surrender to the void
It is shining
It is shining

That you may see
The meaning of within
It is being
It is being

That love is all
And love is everyone
It is knowing
It is knowing

That ignorance and hate
May mourn the dead
It is believing
It is believing

But listen to the
Color of your dreams
It is not living
It is not living

Or play the game
Existence to the end
Of the beginning
Of the beginning

Of the beginning
Of the beginning
Of the beginning
Of the beginning
Of the beginning

 

 

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