Tomorrow Never Knows

Revolver is perhaps the watershed album not only in The Beatles’ career, but also of rock history. The album was the beginning of many things, foremost among them being Psychedelia or Psychedelic Music. Tomorrow never knows which was the beginning of all the Psychedelia is perhaps the best example to show the genius of Beatles at work in the album. Beatles have always been good. In the lyrics, the music, the recording, they have been brilliant. But rarely have they got the combination of all the stuff that goes into the recording of a song as they got it here. This is an exemplary piece of art by the Fab Four.

Lennon writes the lyrics like only he could ever do, he was perhaps trying to pose a threat to the numero uno writing status of Dylan. The lyrics of the song were an inspiration from the book, The Psychedelic Experience: A Manual Based on the Tibetan Book of the Dead by Timothy Leary, Richard Alpert, and Ralph Metzner, which in turn was adapted from the Tibetan Book of the Dead. (Sashidhar has a copy of the book so any budding Lennons know whom to contact). Rock music has had various songs which have taken psychedelia to whole different levels but the lyrics of this song written 45 years ago make it one of the most sought after LSD trip partner.

Music, has always been as important for The Beatles as their lyrics and the drumming by Ringo in this one shows why he is rated so highly as a drummer in all circles. Throughout the length of the song, he has managed to maintain a beat, a rhythm going through, a sound which to my very untrained ears also seem like the sound a drum set would make if played like a tabla. May be the fact that the songs harmonic section is derived from Indian music could have something to do with it.Ringo has had many drum solos in Beatles, and this one will always rank alongside them.
Revolver is as much a story of their lyrics and music as the unconventional innovations they did to the recording techniques producing an assortment of sounds using the primitive recording instruments of that times. This is one of the reasons why Beatles sound is still fresh today. A list of improvisations are there, but the best one is the use of a Leslie speaker, which is used to create that effect in Lennon’s voice. Leslie, is just a rotating speaker which gives the effect of sound coming from different directions. Lennon’s idea to implement this was rather uncoventional tying him by rope to the roof and them him singing. Then there are the sounds of seagulls produced by playing a tape of McCartney laughing backwards. Music recording had never really seen innovation of the levels seen in the song  [For a complete list go Here]

Ringoism, is another aspect of Beatles’ music at work in the song. Terms like A hard Day’s Night, Eight Days A Week are some of the phrases which Ringo regularly used and were converted to songs. Again Tomorrow never Knows is something Ringo spoke in a BBC interview in 1964 and that’s where the song get its title.
This song used 16 tape loops. Several people remember standing around the room holding pencils for the tape to loop around and back into the recording machine as the various sound effects and instrumentation were faded in and out.


2 thoughts on “Tomorrow Never Knows

  1. very few songs are as good as this song in the psychedelic genre. I sometimes try to recollect how I felt when I first heard this song. Difficult to remember since I’ve heard this song so many times 😀 Also, the lyrics of this song were so different (the biggest reason why I got that book :P)

    From Ringo’s drummimg to McCartney’s reverse screaming to the speakers… awesome review of a kickass song!

    1. I discovered this song, only when you showed me that list with this song as no1 in the list of most psych Beatles songs and I can with some conviction say, the place is not unjustified at any counts.

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