Welcome to "Every Little Thing", a blog discussing all 214 songs released by the Beatles from 1962 to 1970....by Daniel Seth Levine.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

#116: Tomorrow Never Knows

Written by: John Lennon & Paul McCartney
Released: August 5, 1966
Appears on: Revolver
Lead vocal: John

Revolver comes to a close with John's "Tomorrow Never Knows", the first song recorded during the sessions, when it started out as "Mark I". It's easily one of the most complex songs by The Beatles up to this point and probably in their entire career. 
"Tomorrow Never Knows" is really just a trip through the stream of consciousness. (As a Disney fan, I can't help but be compelled to compare it to the "Toccata And Fugue In D Minor" sequence in Fantasia.) John said that it's from his "Tibetan Book Of The Dead period", which was influenced by his reading and understanding of Timothy Leary, Richard Alpert and Ralph Metzner's book The Psychic Experience: A Manual Based On The Tibetan Book Of The Dead. However, this song isn't about what it's about; rather, it's about what's behind John's echo-drenched voice that sounds as much as an instrument as the actual instruments. Aside from their usual stable of instruments (save a rhythm guitar part), all four contributed to the insane, droning tape loops. Paul contributed the most because, contrary to what everyone is made to believe, he was actually the first Beatle to get interested in the avant-garde. George Martin added piano and also helped out with the loops. John added organ and tambourine parts and George added sitar. Keep an ear out for Ringo's stand-out drumming, which makes his amazing performance on "Rain" sound amateurish.   
An entry on "Tomorrow Never Knows" without a mention of rookie engineer Geoff Emmerick would be a mistake. He made an incredible contribution to the track, all outlined in great detail in his book, Here, There And Everywhere.        
"Tomorrow Never Knows" is such an innovative, out-of-this-world track that really blew everyone out of the water and still does, I think. As an ending it's perfect. Hearing it outside of its context (that is, as an ending) is wrong and thankfully, it has never appeared outside of Revolver (aside from its interesting use in LOVE). 
Ringo's contribution of the title is probably one of his biggest contributions to the Beatles because tomorrow truly never knows, especially when it came to the Beatles.    

Phew! That does it for Revolver! What's next? Before we get to the incredibly ground-breaking year of 1967, we have some house cleaning to do.  

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