Don’t Forget the Songs-365: Mach Dos: Day 350
Tues, Jan 1, 2013
“Tomorrow Never Knows”
Why is “Tomorrow Never Knows” such an important song in The Beatles canon? It’s the Fab Four song that literally changed everything. Forget the Lennon’s “Bigger Than Jesus” comment or the Yesterday and Today “Butcher” cover, “Tomorrow Never Knows” is the sound of Fab Four destroying Beatlemania with a blast of Psychedelia. The days of “Love Me Do” were no more, drowned beyond the glorious cacophony of “Tomorrow Never Knows.”
Barry Miles recalled the night Lennon was inspired to write Revolver’s most infamous song. It was a book in his own library that inspired John to pen “Tomorrow Never Knows,” as he described when he wrote in Many Years From Now, “John began to scan the shelves. His eyes soon alighted upon a copy of The Psychedelic Experience, Dr Timothy Leary’s psychedelic version of the Tibetan Book of the Dead. John was delighted and settled down on the settee with the book. Right away, on page 14 in Leary’s introduction, he read, ‘Whenever in doubt, turn off your mind, relax, float downstream.’ He had found the first line of ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’, one of the Beatles’ most innovative songs.”
Here’s where Beatles famed producer George Martin comes into the picture. After writing the most introspective song of his young career, John needed the perfect rhythm to match the psychedelically lyrical intensity of his new song that at the demo stage was known as “Mark 1.” George Martin once told Bill Harry about the about the recording of “Tomorrow Never Knows” when he said, “John wanted his voice to sound like the Dalai Lama on the top of a hill.” John wanted his new song to sound like when he said, “I had imagined in my head that in the background you would have thousands of monks chanting.”
After recording his dynamic new track, John Lennon re-titled his new song, “Tomorrow Never Knows” which he would eventually describe as, “That’s me in my Tibetan Book of the Dead period. I took one of Ringo’s malapropisms as the title, to sort of take the edge off the heavy philosophical lyrics.”
“Tomorrow Never Knows” is the song that did it for me. After hearing the climatic track from Revolver, I could never really return to the Please Please Me era of The Beatles. I was in high school and eager to experience a new way of thinking. Like many other Fab Four followers, “Tomorrow Never Knows” was my first foray into psychedelic music. I just remember playing “Tomorrow,” with my headphones, over and over again trying to capture the essence of Lennon’s mind tripping epic.
George Harrison once talked about the meaning of John’s most famous Revolver song when he said, “You can hear (and I am sure most Beatles fans have) Tomorrow Never Knows a lot and not know what it really is about. The whole point is that we are the song. The self is coming from a state of pure awareness, from the state of being. The true nature of each soul is pure consciousness. So the song is really about transcending and about the quality of the transcendent. I am not too sure if John actually fully understood what he was saying. He knew he was onto something when he saw those words and turned them into a song. But to have experienced what the lyrics in that song are actually about? I don’t know if he fully understood it.”
And once “Tomorrow Never Knows” was fading out right after those seagull-esque sound effects soared from my speakers, it was over for me. I realized then that I was on a journey and music was my main key. I may not have grasped all that John was singing about but I was eager to take that introspective trip inside of me. On the first day of 2013, it’s the perfect day to lay back and ponder our own personal meaning for “Tomorrow Never Knows.” All you have to do is turn off you mind to relax and float down stream.
And here’s the 2006 Love remix by Giles and George Martin that mixes George Harrison’s “Within You, Without You” over the backbeat of “Tomorrow Never Knows.” Literally, mind blowing! Enjoy!