Lex on Revolver (The Beatles)
A memory of Lex’s favorite Beatles album
Somewhere back in time it’s summer 1977, and I’m getting the hell scared out of me by a strange noise entitled “Tomorrow Never Knows.” Although at that point in my life I was familiar with a lot of Beatles songs, nothing prepared me for the aural assault that was Revolver.
It sounded different from all of the previous Beatles records I had acquired. The sound had a different texture, and not every song dealt with romantic love. Where my previous Beatles records were charming and innocent, Revolver painted a psychedelic rainbow all over their earlier work. It was at once harmonic and dissonant, whimsical and melancholy, wry and acerbic. I didn’t know it at the time, but it was destined to be my favorite Beatles record of all time.
It took years to be able to sit and listen to the vinyl without lifting the needle to skip a track. Granted, most 8 year old kids probably wouldn’t sit through George Harrison’s Indian-flavored “Love You To.” Maybe Paul’s “Eleanor Rigby” was a bit too arty and poetic. And “Yellow Submarine?” Come on; that’s a kid’s song. I may have been 8, but I was way past singing to the cartoon. I would learn to love these songs in time, but I fell in love with the obvious songs first. George’s “Taxman” was my first favorite, followed by Paul’s “Good Day Sunshine,” “For No One” and “Here, There, and Everywhere,” and John Lennon’s “She Said She Said.”
Somewhere back in time it’s summer 1987, and the entire Beatles catalog is now available on these new-fangled compact discs. I buy them all, one at a time. Revolver is now in it’s original British format, with songs I originally found on another Capitol “money-making” compilation called Yesterday . . . and Today. Suddenly, everything came into focus. The sound textures all collided and it made sense. The Beatles experienced a giant growth spurt, and it is most evident on Revolver.
At 18, I could sit still for George’s Indian-flavored song, along with his wonderfully dissonant “I Want To Tell You.” John’s “Tomorrow Never Knows” far out-stripped any of the “psychedelic” pop that I’d been collecting up till that point. Add his “Dr. Robert” and “And Your Bird Can Sing,” and you get an album that is not only entertaining, but educational. Released in 1966, it was further evidence that rock music was heading past the point of being “disposable noise.” Revolver, along with Dylan’s Blonde on Blonde, the Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds and the Stones’ Aftermath, proved that pop music was now maturing past “bubblegum.” It graduated to “rock music.”
It’s summer 2008, and at 39 I’m up (after working a miserable swing-into-graveyard shift) thinking and writing about my favorite band and my favorite album by that band. I won’t bore you with talk about a time when every track on an album had to be an honest reflection of an artist. Time has changed that. Maybe it will change again before I’m gone. One thing that doesn’t change is the fact that somewhere, out there, some band is playing Revolver and creating their own masterpiece.
If music is indeed the greatest part of the human spirit, then Revolver will survive the test of time. It has survived 42 years this August. Now, if you will excuse me while I turn off my “mind, relax and float downstream . . . ”