Revolution 1

Written by Lennon - McCartney

Album This song officially appears on the The Beatles (Mono) LP.
Timeline This song has been officially released in 1968

Master album


Related sessions

This song has been recorded during the following studio sessions






Related songs


Revolution 9

Officially appears on The Beatles (Mono)


Revolution

Officially appears on Hey Jude / Revolution

Related articles


The Beatles in India

From mid-February to March 1968

Spread the love! If you like what you are seeing, share it on social networks and let others know about The Paul McCartney Project.

Song facts

From Wikipedia:

“Revolution” is a song by the English rock band the Beatles, written by John Lennon and credited to the Lennon–McCartney partnership. Three versions of the song were recorded and released in 1968, all during sessions for the Beatles’ self-titled double album, also known as “the White Album”: a slow, bluesy arrangement (titled “Revolution 1”) that would make the final cut for the LP; an abstract sound collage (titled “Revolution 9“) that originated as the latter part of “Revolution 1” and appears on the same album; and the faster, hard rock version similar to “Revolution 1”, released as the B-side of “Hey Jude“. Although the single version was issued first, it was recorded several weeks after “Revolution 1”, as a remake specifically intended for release as a single.

Inspired by political protests in early 1968, Lennon’s lyrics expressed sympathy with the need for social change but doubt in regard to the violent tactics espoused by members of the New Left. Despite his bandmates’ reservations, he persevered with the song and insisted it be included on their next single. When released in August, the song was viewed by the political left as a betrayal of their cause and a sign that the Beatles were out of step with radical elements of the counterculture. The release of “Revolution 1” in November indicated Lennon’s uncertainty about destructive change, with the phrase “count me out” recorded instead as “count me out – in”. Lennon was stung by the criticism he received from the New Left and subsequently espoused the need for Maoist revolution, particularly with his 1971 single “Power to the People”. In one of the final interviews he gave before his death in 1980, however, he reaffirmed the pacifist sentiments expressed in “Revolution”.

The song peaked at number 12 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the US and topped singles charts in Australia and New Zealand. The Beatles filmed a promotional clip for the single version, which introduced a new, leaner and more direct public image of Lennon. “Revolution” has received praise from several music critics, particularly for the intensity of the band’s performance and the heavily distorted guitar sound on the recording. In 1987, the song became the first Beatles recording to be licensed for a television commercial, which prompted a lawsuit from the surviving members of the group. The song has been covered by numerous artists, including Thompson Twins, who performed it at Live Aid in July 1985, and Stone Temple Pilots.

Background and composition

In early 1968, media coverage in the aftermath of the Tet Offensive spurred increased protests in opposition to the Vietnam War, especially among university students. The protests were most prevalent in the United States, and on 17 March, 25,000 demonstrators marched to the American embassy in London’s Grosvenor Square and violently clashed with police. Major protests concerning other political issues made international news, such as the March 1968 protests in Poland against their communist government, and the campus uprisings of May 1968 in France. The upheaval reflected the increased politicisation of the 1960s youth movement and the rise of New Left ideology, in a contrast with the hippie ideology behind the 1967 Summer of Love. For these students and activists, the Maoist philosophy of cultural revolution, purging society of its non-progressive elements, provided a model for social change.

By and large, the Beatles had avoided publicly expressing their political views in their music, with “Taxman” being their only overtly political track thus far. Viewed as leaders of the counterculture, the band – particularly John Lennon – were under pressure from Leninist, Trotskyist and Maoist groups to actively support the revolutionary cause. Lennon decided to write a song about the recent wave of social upheaval while the Beatles were in Rishikesh, India, studying Transcendental Meditation. He recalled, “I thought it was about time we spoke about it, the same as I thought it was about time we stopped not answering about the Vietnamese war [in 1966]. I had been thinking about it up in the hills in India.” Lennon began writing the song there and completed it in England in May, inspired especially by events in France.

Despite Lennon’s antiwar feelings, he had yet to become anti-establishment, and expressed in “Revolution” that he wanted “to see the plan” from those advocating toppling the system. In author Mark Hertsgaard’s description, the lyrics advocate social change but emphasise that “political actions [should] be judged on moral rather than ideological grounds”. The repeated phrase “it’s gonna be alright” came directly from Lennon’s Transcendental Meditation experiences in India, conveying the idea that God would take care of the human race no matter what happened politically. Another influence on Lennon was his burgeoning relationship with avant-garde artist Yoko Ono and her espousal of sexual politics as an alternative to Maoist doctrine and other hardline philosophies adopted by the political left. Lennon credited Ono with awakening him from his passive mindset of the previous year.

Around the fourth week of May 1968, the Beatles met at Kinfauns, George Harrison’s home in Esher, to demonstrate their compositions to each other in preparation for recording their next studio album. A recording from that informal session released in the White Album’s Super Deluxe version shows that “Revolution” had two of its three verses intact. The lines referencing Mao Zedong – “But if you go carrying pictures of Chairman Mao / You ain’t gone make it with anyone anyhow” – were added in the studio. While filming a promotional clip later that year, Lennon told director Michael Lindsay-Hogg that it was the most important lyric in the song. By 1972, Lennon had changed his mind saying “I should have never said that about Chairman Mao.”

Recording – “Revolution 1”

The Beatles began the recording sessions for their new album on 30 May, starting with “Revolution 1” (simply titled “Revolution” for the first few sessions). At this first session, they concentrated on recording the basic rhythm track. Take 18 lasted 10:17, much longer than the earlier takes, and it was this take that was chosen for additional overdubs recorded over the next two sessions. The full take 18 was officially released in 2018, as part of the Super Deluxe Edition of The Beatles coinciding with the album’s fiftieth anniversary.

During overdubs which brought the recording to take 20, Lennon took the unusual step of performing his lead vocal while lying on the floor. He also altered one line into the ambiguous “you can count me out, in”. He later explained that he included both because he was undecided in his sentiments.

“Revolution 1” has a blues style, performed at a relaxed tempo. The electric guitar heard in the intro shows a blues influence, and the “shoo-bee-do-wop” backing vocals are a reference to doo-wop music. The basic time signature is 128 (or 44 in a “shuffle” style), but the song has several extra half-length bars during the verses. There are also two extra beats at the end of the last chorus, the result of an accidental bad edit during the mixing process that was left uncorrected at Lennon’s request.

Monitor mixes of the full-length version of “Revolution 1” became available on bootlegs such as From Kinfauns to Chaos in the 1990s. In 2009, a high-quality version labelled “Revolution Take 20” appeared on the bootleg CD Revolution: Take … Your Knickers Off! The release triggered considerable interest among the media and fans of the group. This version, RM1 (Remix in Mono #1) of take 20, runs to 10 minutes 46 seconds (at the correct speed)[better source needed] and was created at the end of the 4 June session, with a copy taken away by Lennon. It was an attempt by Lennon to augment the full-length version of “Revolution” in a way that satisfied him before he chose to split the piece between the edited “Revolution 1” and the musique concrète “Revolution 9”.

The bootlegged recording starts with engineer Peter Bown announcing the remix as “RM1 of Take …” and then momentarily forgetting the take number, which Lennon jokingly finishes with “Take your knickers off and let’s go!” The first half of the recording is almost identical to the released track “Revolution 1”. It lacks the electric guitar and horn overdubs of the final version, but features two tape loops in the key of A (same as the song) that are faded in and out at various points.[better source needed] After the final chorus, the song launches into an extended coda similar to that in “Hey Jude“. (The album version only features about 40 seconds of this coda.) Beyond the point where the album version fades out, the basic instrumental backing keeps repeating while the vocals and overdubs become increasingly chaotic: Harrison and Paul McCartney repeatedly sing “dada, mama” in a childlike register; Lennon’s histrionic vocals are randomly distorted in speed (a little of this can be heard in the fade of “Revolution 1”); and radio tuning noises à la “I Am the Walrus” appear. Several elements of this coda appear in the officially released “Revolution 9”.[citation needed]

After the band track ends, the song moves into avant-garde territory, with Yoko Ono reciting some prose over a portion of the song “Awal Hamsa” by Farid al-Atrash (possibly captured live from the radio). Ono’s piece begins with the words “Maybe, it’s not that …”, with her voice trailing off at the end; McCartney jokingly replies, “It is ‘that’!” As the piece continues, Lennon quietly mumbles “Gonna be alright” a few times. Then follows a brief piano riff, some comments from Lennon and Ono on how well the track has preceded, and final appearances of the tape loops.[better source needed] Most of this coda was lifted for the end of “Revolution 9”, with a little more piano at the beginning (which monitor mixes reveal was present in earlier mixes of “Revolution”) and minus Lennon’s (or Harrison’s) joking reply.[citation needed]

Lennon soon decided to divide the existing ten-minute recording into two parts: a more conventional Beatles track and an avant-garde sound collage. Within days after take 20, work began on “Revolution 9” using the last six minutes of the take as a starting point. Numerous sound effects, tape loops, and overdubs were recorded and compiled over several sessions almost exclusively by Lennon and Ono, although Harrison provided assistance for spoken overdubs. With more than 40 sources used for “Revolution 9”, only small portions of the take 20 coda are heard in the final mix; most prominent from take 20 are Lennon’s multiple screams of “right” and “alright”, and around a minute near the end featuring Ono’s lines up to “you become naked”.

On 21 June, the first part of take 20 received several overdubs and became officially titled “Revolution 1”. The overdubs included a lead guitar line by Harrison and a brass section of two trumpets and four trombones. Final stereo mixing was completed on 25 June. The final mix that would ultimately be included on the “White Album” included the hurried announcement of “take two” by Geoff Emerick at the beginning of the song.

Recording – Single version

[See “Revolution“]

Release

[…] “Revolution 1” was released on The Beatles on 22 November 1968. It was the opening track on side four of the LP, four spots ahead of the companion piece “Revolution 9”. In an interview following the album’s release, Harrison said that “Revolution 1” “has less attack and not as much revolution” as the single B-side, and described it as “the Glen Miller version”. The lyric sheet included with the original LP carried the words “count me out”, without the appended “in”. […]

From The Usenet Guide to Beatles Recording Variations:

[a] stereo 25 Jun 1968.
UK: Apple PCS 7068 white album 1968.
US: Apple SWBO 101 white album 1968.
CD: EMI CDP 7 46443 2 white album 1987.

[a1] mono made from [a] 1968.
UK: Apple PMC 7068 white album 1968.

Last updated on May 30, 2021

Lyrics

You say you want a revolution
Well you know
We all wanna change the world
You tell me that it's evolution
Well you know
We all wanna change the world

But when you talk about destruction
Don't you know that you can count me out?

Don't you know it's gonna be alright?
Don't you know it's gonna be alright?
Don't you know it's gonna be alright?

You say you got a real solution
Well you know
We'd all love to see the plan
You asked me for a contribution
Well you know
We're all doing what we can

But if you want money for people with minds that hate
All I can tell you is brother you have to wait

Don't you know it's gonna be alright?
Don't you know it's gonna be alright?
Don't you know it's gonna be alright?

You say you'll change the constitution
Well you know
We'd all love to change your head
You tell me it's the institution
Well you know
You better free your mind instead

But if you go carrying pictures of Chairman Mao
You ain't going to make it with anyone anyhow

Don't you know it's gonna be alright?
Don't you know it's gonna be alright?
Don't you know it's gonna be alright?

Alright, alright, alright
Alright, alright, alright
Alright, alright, alright

Officially appears on


The Beatles (Mono)

LP • Released in 1968

4:16 • Studio versionA1 • Mono • Mono made from [A]

Paul McCartney :
Backing vocals, Bass, Hammond organ, Piano
Ringo Starr :
Drums
John Lennon :
Acoustic guitar, Backing vocals, Lead guitar, Vocals
George Harrison :
Backing vocals, Lead guitar
George Martin :
Producer
Geoff Emerick :
Recording engineer
Yoko Ono :
Backing vocals, Electronic sound effects
Derek Watkins :
Trumpet
Freddy Clayton :
Trumpet
Rex Morris :
Trombone
Peter Bown :
Recording engineer
Francie Schwartz :
Backing vocals
Don Lang :
Trombone
J Power :
Trombone
Bill Povey :
Trombone

Session Recording:
May 30, 1968
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Overdubs:
May 31 & Jun 4, 1968
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Three, Abbey Road

Session Overdubs:
Jun 21, 1968
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Mixing:
Jun 25, 1968
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road


The Beatles (Stereo)

LP • Released in 1968

4:16 • Studio versionA • Stereo

Paul McCartney :
Backing vocals, Bass, Hammond organ, Piano
Ringo Starr :
Drums
John Lennon :
Acoustic guitar, Backing vocals, Lead guitar, Vocals
George Harrison :
Backing vocals, Lead guitar
George Martin :
Producer
Geoff Emerick :
Recording engineer
Yoko Ono :
Backing vocals, Electronic sound effects
Derek Watkins :
Trumpet
Freddy Clayton :
Trumpet
Rex Morris :
Trombone
Peter Bown :
Recording engineer
Francie Schwartz :
Backing vocals
Don Lang :
Trombone
J Power :
Trombone
Bill Povey :
Trombone

Session Recording:
May 30, 1968
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Overdubs:
May 31 & Jun 4, 1968
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Three, Abbey Road

Session Overdubs:
Jun 21, 1968
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Mixing:
Jun 25, 1968
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road


Love

Official album • Released in 2006

2:14 • Studio versionB

George Martin :
Producer
Giles Martin :
Producer
Paul Hicks :
Remix engineer
Sam Okell :
Remix engineer assistant
Chris Bolster :
Remix engineer assistant
Mirek Stiles :
Remix engineer assistant

Session Mixing:
Circa 2004-2006
Studio :
EMI Studios, Abbey Road


The Beatles (Mono - 2009 remaster)

Official album • Released in 2009

4:16 • Studio versionA1.2009 • Mono • 2009 mono remaster

Paul McCartney :
Backing vocals, Bass, Hammond organ, Piano
Ringo Starr :
Drums
John Lennon :
Acoustic guitar, Backing vocals, Lead guitar, Vocals
George Harrison :
Backing vocals, Lead guitar
George Martin :
Producer
Geoff Emerick :
Recording engineer
Yoko Ono :
Backing vocals, Electronic sound effects
Derek Watkins :
Trumpet
Freddy Clayton :
Trumpet
Rex Morris :
Trombone
Peter Bown :
Recording engineer
Francie Schwartz :
Backing vocals
Don Lang :
Trombone
J Power :
Trombone
Bill Povey :
Trombone
Paul Hicks :
Remastering
Guy Massey :
Remastering
Sean Magee :
Remastering
Allan Rouse :
Project co-ordinator

Session Recording:
May 30, 1968
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Overdubs:
May 31 & Jun 4, 1968
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Three, Abbey Road

Session Overdubs:
Jun 21, 1968
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Mixing:
Jun 25, 1968
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road


The Beatles (Stereo - 2009 remaster)

Official album • Released in 2009

4:16 • Studio versionA2009 • Stereo • 2009 stereo remaster

Paul McCartney :
Backing vocals, Bass, Hammond organ, Piano
Ringo Starr :
Drums
John Lennon :
Acoustic guitar, Backing vocals, Lead guitar, Vocals
George Harrison :
Backing vocals, Lead guitar
George Martin :
Producer
Geoff Emerick :
Recording engineer
Yoko Ono :
Backing vocals, Electronic sound effects
Derek Watkins :
Trumpet
Freddy Clayton :
Trumpet
Rex Morris :
Trombone
Peter Bown :
Recording engineer
Francie Schwartz :
Backing vocals
Don Lang :
Trombone
J Power :
Trombone
Bill Povey :
Trombone
Guy Massey :
Remastering
Steve Rooke :
Remastering
Allan Rouse :
Project co-ordinator

Session Recording:
May 30, 1968
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Overdubs:
May 31 & Jun 4, 1968
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Three, Abbey Road

Session Overdubs:
Jun 21, 1968
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Mixing:
Jun 25, 1968
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road


The Beatles (Mono - 2014 vinyl)

LP • Released in 2014

4:16 • Studio versionA1.2014 • Mono • 2014 remaster

Paul McCartney :
Backing vocals, Bass, Hammond organ, Piano
Ringo Starr :
Drums
John Lennon :
Acoustic guitar, Backing vocals, Lead guitar, Vocals
George Harrison :
Backing vocals, Lead guitar
George Martin :
Producer
Geoff Emerick :
Recording engineer
Yoko Ono :
Backing vocals, Electronic sound effects
Derek Watkins :
Trumpet
Freddy Clayton :
Trumpet
Rex Morris :
Trombone
Peter Bown :
Recording engineer
Francie Schwartz :
Backing vocals
Don Lang :
Trombone
J Power :
Trombone
Bill Povey :
Trombone
Sean Magee :
Remastering
Steve Berkowitz :
Remastering

Session Recording:
May 30, 1968
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Overdubs:
May 31 & Jun 4, 1968
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Three, Abbey Road

Session Overdubs:
Jun 21, 1968
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Mixing:
Jun 25, 1968
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road


The Beatles (2018)

Official album • Released in 2018

4:16 • Studio versionC • Stereo • 2018 stereo mix

Paul McCartney :
Backing vocals, Bass, Hammond organ, Piano
Ringo Starr :
Drums
John Lennon :
Acoustic guitar, Backing vocals, Lead guitar, Vocals
George Harrison :
Backing vocals, Lead guitar
George Martin :
Producer
Geoff Emerick :
Recording engineer
Giles Martin :
Producer
Yoko Ono :
Backing vocals, Electronic sound effects
Derek Watkins :
Trumpet
Freddy Clayton :
Trumpet
Rex Morris :
Trombone
Peter Bown :
Recording engineer
Francie Schwartz :
Backing vocals
Don Lang :
Trombone
J Power :
Trombone
Bill Povey :
Trombone
Sam Okell :
Mixing engineer

Session Recording:
May 30, 1968
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Session Overdubs:
May 31 & Jun 4, 1968
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Three, Abbey Road

Session Overdubs:
Jun 21, 1968
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road


The Beatles (2018)

Official album • Released in 2018

10:28 • OuttakeD • Take 18

Paul McCartney :
Bass, Piano
Ringo Starr :
Drums
John Lennon :
Acoustic guitar, Mellotron
Yoko Ono :
Backing vocals, Electronic sound effects

Session Recording:
May 30, 1968
Studio :
EMI Studios, Studio Two, Abbey Road

Bootlegs


White Album Sessions Volume 2

Unofficial album

10:05 • Studio version • Take 20 playback mono


White Album Sessions Volume 2

Unofficial album

4:41 • Studio version • Take 20 playback mono


White Album Sessions Volume 2

Unofficial album

0:45 • Studio version • jamming mono


White Album Sessions Volume 2

Unofficial album

4:46 • Studio version • jamming mono


White Album Sessions Volume 2

Unofficial album

1:29 • Studio version • tuning/dialogue mono


Live performances

Paul McCartney has never played this song in concert.

Contribute!

Have you spotted an error on the page? Do you want to suggest new content? Or do you simply want to leave a comment ? Please use the form below!

Your comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.