August 5, 2016

It was 50 years ago today: The Beatles released "Revolver."

It's hard for me to express the brilliance of that moment. I feel helpless and tears come to my eyes, so let me turn this over to my wonderful son John Althouse Cohen, who didn't live through the Beatles era as I did, but came to appreciate and understand them much more that I ever could. He's put up a great blog post covering all the songs on the incredible album, full of details and video clips. I'll just embed my favorite song from the album...



... and thank John so much for putting that post together and for showing me the extent to which it is possible to care about The Beatles.

ADDED: John's blog post collects what were many individual posts at Facebook, where I commented on "For No One" (which he illustrates with a performance by Diana Krall and James Taylor). John wrote:
"For No One" is one of my very favorite Beatles songs. Paul perfectly fused lyrics to music here. The slow, methodical chord changes in the verse reflect the singer's dwelling on the breakup and trying to analyze things from every possible perspective. Then the emotional intensity is heightened by the shift to a minor key in the chorus ("and in her eyes you see nothing...").
I wrote:
When I hear this song and "She Said She Said," I think: Here are 2 men, each writing about a woman who is sad and lonely. Paul pulls us into the woman's mind and makes us feel for her. John shows us his point of view and makes us feel like sharing his revulsion for women like that. Paul got regarded as too sweet and sentimental, and John was celebrated as the more advanced character. These differences got ingrained in the minds of Baby Boomers in an unfathomable way.
And let the record show that John was named after John Lennon. We had a second son, and his name is not Paul.

CORRECTION: John says: "The woman in 'For No One' isn't sad and lonely — the singer is." And that wrecks my whole point.

THEN: Was my correction necessary? I reread the lyrics. The woman is the one crying. She is unhappy, and she cries "for no one." Isn't that the ultimate in loneliness? The man is sad too, but he feels love and is trying to understand the woman. I could defend my original statement. It's not completely wrecked!

67 comments:

mccullough said...

Definitely their best album

YoungHegelian said...

You know what's weird? "Eleanor Rigby" is considered a rock song.

It's solo male voice, male "chorus", & a string quartet.

If "Eleanor Rigby" is rock, is Schubert's Nachthelle? moaning the blues?

surfed said...

Bought a guitar and learned many of the songs on Rubber Soul. They were easily mastered on the six string acoustic. Relvolver was a differnt thing altogether. The best album ever recorded. I still have it in constant rotation these fifty years on. I'll stop there.

nina said...

Thank you for this post. I love this song more than any other.

Pugsley the Pug said...

Great album. The cover art is very beautiful. I have a copy of the album from 1966 that is monophonic, which sounds better than the stereophonic version. The UK version with the extra songs that the US didn't have is a bonus. Taxman is autobiographical by George - they found out that they were being taxed by the British goverment at 95% ("there's 1 for you, 19 for me")!!! They definitely felt the "Bern" under a Socialist system in 1966....

surfed said...

Addendum : I was just now watching "Free and Easy" a surfing movie from 1966. It's been scored in part to Rubber Soul and Revolver by way of a Hollywood Strings production. I also now remember that the seminal Australian "Hot Generation" by Paul Witzig of the same year was also scored to ersatz string arrangements from Revolver. Funny to hear the songs arranged that way to visuals from 1966.

virgil xenophon said...

I was still a 22 yr old sr @LSU about to graduate and get my AF commission on Aug 13th. LOTS of water under the bridge since then..

traditionalguy said...

1966 was the best year there ever was.

Ann Althouse said...

I've had the album cover framed and hanging in the living room for many years.

Archilochus said...

A very fine album, but I regard "Blonde on Blonde" as 66's finest.

sane_voter said...

The Beatles are in a class by themselves for their prolific high quality output and incredible musical evolution over the course of 8 years.

They are also the definition of the sum being worth more than the parts.

William said...

I think a child feels a special attachment to his parents' favorite songs and that that attachment stays with him throughout his life. That's the music from when his parents were young and strong and life was eternal.......I have a lot of Glen Miller songs on my playlist. He didn't make the posterity cut. I don't think anyone younger than sixty still listens to American Patrol, but I find the music reassuring, almost pacifying.

Laslo Spatula said...

William said...
I think a child feels a special attachment to his parents' favorite songs and that that attachment stays with him throughout his life. That's the music from when his parents were young and strong and life was eternal....

This really resonates with me. Thanks.

I am Laslo.

sane_voter said...

I think a child feels a special attachment to his parents' favorite songs and that that attachment stays with him throughout his life.

As a young lad I listened to my Mom's collection of 50s and 60s 45's on a cheap turntable with a built-in speaker.

readering said...

At the time it was released I was of an age where yellow submarine was my favorite track, but still old enough to appreciate Eleanor Rigby, if not Taxman. Have listened to the songs of the album a gazillion times since.

Popville said...

More of a Beatles '65 fanatic, as Revolver sounded like they were getting old.

BN said...

"and life was eternal."

...and revolving... forever and ever.

Till it stopped a couple years later and became "Yer Blues."

walter said...

Did the Beatles ever consider collaborating with..(60's) Dylan?
Ffftttttttttttt
"That's interesting Robert. But..do you ever bloody sing?"

walter said...

Hey Wisco-folk,
Here's Trump reading his way through McCain/Ryan endorsements:
http://www.nbcnews.com/politics/2016-election/trump-endorses-paul-ryan-john-mccain-wisconsin-rally-n624076

BN said...

"...they were getting old."

John was all of 25 at the time. Ringo, a couple months older, was 26!

Fucking fogies.

BN said...

The British version vs the American version is quite different. It's important to understand which one is being discussed.

Also, "Here, There, and Everywhere" is the type of McCartney song that made Lennon want to break up The Beatles.in the first place. It is indeed a good song however. I love John; but he could be a dick.

Unknown said...

> Did the Beatles ever consider collaborating with..(60's) Dylan?

They did, sorta. Never heard "4th Time Around"?

"And Your Bird Can Sing" is the most underrated Beatles song..

BN said...

"Did the Beatles ever consider collaborating with..(60's) Dylan?"

They didn't collaborate, but they were inspired:

- You've Got to Hide Your Love Away"

- "Here Comes the Sun"

- "Blackbird"

I can't prove it, except for the first, but I'm willing to try if you care to challenge me.

BN said...

'"And Your Bird Can Sing" is the most underrated Beatles song..'

A song that was on the British version but not on the American version of Revolver.

"Tell me that you got everything you want
And yer bird can sing
But you don't get me."

Do you?

M Jordan said...

I used to boast that I knew the key and most of the chords to every Beatles song ... but that was a lie. I had somehow missed the "Revolver" and "Rubber Soul" years. I knew only about half of their menu. A lot of commenters seem to think Revolver was their best work. For me it was always the White Album, hodge-podgy as it was. I just loved every song on it, from Rocky Raccoon to Julia. In recent years "Come Together" moved into my number one slot, an Abbey Road offering. "A Day in the Life" though is always pushing for the top slot.

When my wife and I went to London we did a walking Beatles tour. It was okay. Just okay. When we went to Liverpool we did a full blown guided tour, Penny Lane, Strawberry Fields, the works. That was a great tour. If you go, get "Phil." Great guy, great guide. His only flaw was he loved McCartney more than Lennon.

BN said...

The American version of 'Revolver' only has 2 Lennon songs--both of which are trite pschycodelica and neither of which would be considered awesome ("She Said She Said" and "Tomorrow Never Knows")--as opposed to 3 Harrison songs, and the rest by Paul.

If you're an American 'Revolver' fan from back in the day, you come down on the McCartney side of the only question that matters re the Beatles (John vs. Paul).

Just for the record, I am not a huge Revolver fan (though i might be quite more so of the British version). Nevertheless, I am still a huge McCartney fan, and he is growing on me more and more as I get older. A real craftsman. As opposed to Lennon, who was a true Worsdworthian. He had to feel it to sing it.

I am going to read John now. I will let you all be.

BN said...

From John Cohen's post:

"John was generally very critical of Paul, but they both agreed that "Here, There, and Everywhere" was one of Paul's best songs."

Look at that. John proves me to be a pretentious ass!

Ha! As if that were a secret!

BN said...

It's a good post. I liked it.

It's interesting how people like "Tomorrow Never Knows". it's not uncommon in the critical reviews forever. I think it's interesting and a good representation of the times, but I suggest comparing it to "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds". Which sells more? Hey, does that not matter?

The sound engineer wrote a book, I read it, but i'm not going to look it up right now, that provides interesting insights to Lennon's instructions on what sounds he was seeking for it.

Meanwhile, George was a little peeved he couldn't quite manage to play the solo on his own song ("Taxman"). McCartney was/is an awesome musician.

BN said...

My last post, i promise:

The Beatles last Album was "Abbey Road" (made after "Let it Be" but released before it). It ends, appropriately, with the song, "The End" (not counting the snippet toss-off of "Her Majesty"). Right before it gets to the vocals, there is a guitar solo extravaganza of all three guitar players, starting with McCartney, then Harrison, then John.

Pretty much explains the appeal of The Beatles.

walter said...

Never heard "4th Time Around"?

Nope

BN said...

L'esprit d'escalier: "Pretty much explains The Beatles."

Unknown said...

>Never heard "4th Time Around"?
>
>Nope

4th Time Around (some volume issues)

walter said...

So..sounds very Dylan..since..Dylan. How so a collaboration?
Listening to it..if before Norwegian Wood was written, a definite inspiration..or more.

gadfly said...

@walter said...
Hey Wisco-folk,
Here's Trump reading his way through McCain/Ryan endorsements . . .


Now I know why The Donald never apologizes. Nothing so ridiculous than an old man formally endorsing three politicians that he despised a couple of days ago when he said he would never endorse and never is forever.

It was so kind of him to suddenly endorse Ryan who has a 66% poll lead. And why would he endorse POW McCain who was not a hero and who has been voting with the Dems more often than with his own party of late.

But the talking heads are all happy because the intra-party fights are over until tomorrow when Trump opens his mouth yet again.

Tick, tick, tick - 94 days to go. "And the days dwindle down to a precious few" - but September Song was not sung by the Beatles.

walter said...

I can see Dyl-inspiration perhaps in
"You've Got to Hide Your Love Away"
but not in "Here Comes the Sun"

walter said...

gadfly said...And why would he endorse POW McCain who was not a hero
--
Hmm..compared to "deferred" Trump? The very model of physical health..according to..himself?
You are a fool to draw attention to his past and his statements regarding McCain's service.
At this atage, even Trump knows this.
As they say, get on the Trump train.
Woo-Woo!!

walter said...

(anyone know what Trump was doing while McCain was a prisoner?)

walter said...

(he could have gone after McCain regarding later selling out to politics..not for being captured)

walter said...

(he's still alluding today to "self-funding" his primary..though technically a loan)

walter said...

Trump sets up big tent, which ..well..at least audible, collapses

walter said...

"Bone spur"..that was it...

richardsson said...

In those days, I was more of a Rolling Stones Fan than Beatles. In the years 1964 1965, you didn't need to buy Beatles records, the radio stations in L.A. played them to death. In around 1990, I was a long way away from Rock music by then anyway, I listened mostly to old blues and jazz from the 20's and 30's. But, I walked past a record store that was liquidating their LP stocks, selling them for pennies on the dollar so I bought the whole lot of Beatles LPs and enjoyed them (except for "I Wanna Hold Your Hand") much more than I did when they were getting all that airplay. Their music holds up pretty well.

Laslo Spatula said...

Okay, I'm just going to say it.

Lennon did his best work after meeting Yoko.

It is only a coincidence if you feel it HAS to be.

I am Laslo.

walter said...

It was her wonderful singing voice.

Laslo Spatula said...

Without the Patriarchy Yoko Ono would be John Lennon to John Lennon's Yoko Ono.

I think that parses correctly.

I am Laslo.

Laslo Spatula said...

Yoko Ono song, covered by Galaxie 500.

So I DO like a Yoko Ono song.

Take that, America.

I am Laslo.

rcommal said...

JAC: Excellent.

rcommal said...

In other words: Good job.

CBCD said...

The Beatles were on their second, and final tour of the US when Revolver came out.

I saw The Beatles in DC on August 15. I was 12 years old, and it was my first "date."

My father had died suddenly earlier that year. But every day when I woke up that summer, my first thought was "I'm going to see the Beatles ... I'm going to see the Beatles ..."

Terry said...

Gadfly wrote:
"Nothing so ridiculous than an old man formally endorsing three politicians that he despised a couple of days ago when he said he would never endorse and never is forever."

Howzabout voting for a war, then changing your mind after thousands of people have been killed? Howzabout going from "marriage is between one man and one woman" to "anyone who opposes same sex marriage is a bigot"? Howzabout changing your mind on Keystone XL? TPP?

Terry said...

It is astonishing how many people believe that there is some integrity comparison that can be made between Trump and Hillary where one comes out better than the other.

Ann Althouse said...

"Also, "Here, There, and Everywhere" is the type of McCartney song that made Lennon want to break up The Beatles.in the first place. It is indeed a good song however. I love John; but he could be a dick."

As John's post says, "Here, There, and Everywhere" was a McCartney song that John expressed respect for.

Ann Althouse said...

"As John's post says, "Here, There, and Everywhere" was a McCartney song that John expressed respect for."

I mean my son John's post and John Lennon expressed respect.

Ann Althouse said...

There was something Paul tried to do and "Here, There, and Everywhere" is the best result of trying to do that, and there are many lesser songs. You could get tired of too much of that... just as you could get tired of John's "I'm So Tired" indulgences.

Ann Althouse said...

Why would anyone use this thread to talk about the presidential election? Pathetic.

Laslo Spatula said...

John was jealous of McCartney's seeming ease with musical creation.

This anger in John fueled him to compete.

Much of his music's energy is him clawing and scraping to beat Paul.

Lennon could claw and scrape.

I am Laslo.

Laslo Spatula said...

My 3:51 and 7;46 posts intertwine.

Yoko fed Lennon's desire to be better than Paul.

Yoko was not one to associate with second-best.

I am Laslo.

Laslo Spatula said...

"...just as you could get tired of John's "I'm So Tired" indulgences."

Listen to that song in the context of my 7:46 post.

The competition, and the constant pushing of Yoko, takes its toll.

I am Laslo.

Guildofcannonballs said...

"It is astonishing how many people believe that there is some integrity comparison that can be made between Trump and Hillary where one comes out better than the other."

Same for you and PolPot.

Everybody is, always has been, and always will be equal, absolutely, in all ways potentially possible.

Duh of course.

Guildofcannonballs said...

"Why would anyone use this thread to talk about the presidential election? Pathetic."

Raising awareness of the patheticness brings satisfaction to the raiser hence the raising in their/that instance.

Kassaar said...

Eleanor Rigby (sculpture)
Eleanor Rigby (headstone)

Fernandinande said...

Ann Althouse said...
Why would anyone use this thread to talk about the presidential election? Pathetic.


Ringo for President!
or you might prefer
Ringo for President!

Because Ringo played the drums.

Marc Snyder said...

Beautiful version of "For no one " by Emmylou Harris.

BN said...

AA: "As John's post says..."

Yes, I already admonished myself, but thanks for noticing me. And if your following remark re "So Tired" was directed also at me, my point was that John L often got annoyed by Paul's affection for show tunes, not that I didn't like the song "Here, There, and Wherever". I do like the song, I like the album, and I think John's 2 songs on the American version are inferior to most if not all of the Paul songs. Furthermore, I am in complete agreement, John and Paul complimented each other very well, and their solo albums weren't nearly as eccletic or enjoyable. And as you say, Paul wrote songs in a purposeful manner, he tried to do something and did it, usually very well. John too, of course, but he was more of the Romantic, spontaneous-overflow-of-emotion type.

Re competition, Paul was even more competitive. Besides competing with John, "Helter Skelter" was written in response to an interview where Pete Townsend was talking about writing "the perfect rock song," and "Back in the USSR" was aimed directly at the Beach Boys, one-upping their harmony and style, and with the extrat dig of having the title point to Chuck Berry's "Back in the USA" (since Brian Wilson was sometimes accused of having plagiarized CB, e.g., compare "Surfing' USA" to "Sweet Little Sixteen").

Tim said...

Anything by Emmylou Harris is great.

TML said...

Why is Judd Nelson playing the guitar and singing?

BN said...

Speaking of ripping off Chuck Berry, John Lennon was sued for "Come Together" which is an homage to "You Can't Catch Me." He made the cover album, "Rock and Roll," as the settlement. And of course, George's "My Sweet Lord" was a copy of "He's So Fine" by... somebody.