Pop & Hiss

The L.A. Times music blog

« Previous Post | Pop & Hiss Home | Next Post »

Fab Four Face-Off: What's Your Favorite Song From 'Revolver'?

September 14, 2009 |  6:45 am


With the official release of the Beatles' remastered catalog now a done deed, Pop & Hiss asks the musical question: What would go on your Beatles mix tape?

Continuing my arguments for the best track on each of the Fabs' freshly repackaged long-players, this entry considers "Revolver," the seventh album in the series.

Affirm or dissent when I nominate....

"Tomorrow Never Knows"

I came extremely close to a different choice on this one. Actually, three. "Revolver," which also happens to be one of three releases I'd put in the ring for the ultimate title of "Perfect Pop Masterpiece" (The others? One involves pets and sounds, and one names an odd color for rain), offers so much to Beatles fans that each could argue for a winner, no matter what her passion.

Ringophiles can stand up for "Yellow Submarine," the tune that opened the floodgates for the hip kids' music revolution. I'm sure John Flansburgh would support that campaign. If you're a George fan, "Revolver" offers three candidates -- the snidely political "Taxman," the sweetly tongue-tied "I Want to Tell You" and the simply cosmic "Love You To." And Team McCartney has so much to love, from the exquisite "Here, There and Everywhere" to the soul-sational "Got to Get You Into My Life" -- later updated for the disco era by Earth, Wind and Fire, in what would become a favorite Fabs interpretation  -- to "Eleanor Rigby," the churchiest argument against religious hypocrisy.

I thought I'd pick the sub, then decided upon George's Indian endeavor. Then I decided upon a dual designation of John's "And Your Bird Can Sing" and Paul's "For No One," two sides of the template for grown-up love songs that the Beatles created during this period. As usual, though, "Tomorrow Never Knows" presents the Beatles -- with John in the lead this time -- reaching the essence of a pop style within the gem-like structure of a pop tune. This song is mind expansion in its leanest, cleanest and most powerful form.

Even the lyrics, which often lead spiritual seekers of the songwriter variety down roads of terrifying treacle or nonsense, are more than bearable on "Tomorrow Never Knows." A little meditation instruction segues into some basic Zen: "the meaning of within / it is being." Lennon's final thought circles back to the existentialists as well as the Buddha: Life is a game, and we play it until the next round.

These relatively concise mental ramblings are set against a backdrop of tape loops, sound effects and wicked guitar drone that benefited from all four members' contributions. "Tomorrow Never Knows" presents the Beatles as a whole entity, four minds moving forward together in step with the culture the band was helping to shape. It's a strong argument for the power of music to change our minds and our times.

-- Ann Powers

Photo: Apple Corps