This week we have one of Gripweed’s favorite Beatles songs. It’s the mesmerizing “Tomorrow Never Knows” from Revolver. As the last song on the album it seems to mark the departure of the younger, poppier Beatles and signaled the emergence of the more introspective, psychedelic Beatles (even though John, George and Ringo had been taking LSD since late 1965). But what it lacks in catchiness it more than makes up for as a piece of art. Here are some fun facts about one of the coolest Beatles songs ever.
Fact: John Lennon did, in fact, take most of the lyrics directly from Timothy Leary’s LSD guide, The Psychedelic Experience.
Fact: John wanted to record the song first with 100 chanting Tibetan Monks behind him, then with himself suspended from the studio ceiling by a rope (a decision most likely made not long after finishing the Leary book, if you know what I mean).
Fact: There were six tape loops constantly running while the song was being mixed (the “bird” sound is one of them). The Beatles “played” the faders live during the mix and faded the loops in and out of the song as you hear it on the track. And since different mixing sessions were held for the mono and stereo mixes, the mono mix had a different “performance” of the effects.
Fact: This was the first song recorded for Revolver. It was recorded in April, 1966 a week before “Paperback Writer.”
Fact: This is the first song The Beatles recorded using ADT. It can be heard quite clearly in the first three verses. The fourth features John’s voice wired through a rotating Leslie organ speaker.
Fact: The song’s title did come from Ringo. In a 1964 interview, in a moment of profundity Ringo told an interviewer “tomorrow never knows,” followed by laughter from John.
We included this video for the song because it features a mix that even Beatles megabuff Gripweed had never heard. It’s a mono mix that was only included in the first pressing of the mono version of the album (before it was pulled and replaced with a different one). It illustrates what we mention above about how the sound effects were played “live.” Listen to it followed by the familiar album version and notice the differences.