Monday, May 7, 2012

Tomorrow Never Knows: Say No More



The Beatles "Tomorrow Never Knows" from REVOLVER . Featured on last night's episode of Mad Men, it serves to re/introduce psychedelia to the 21st century mainstream.

John Lennon wrote the song in January 1966, with lyrics adapted from the book The Psychedelic Experience: A Manual Based on the Tibetan Book of the Dead by Timothy Leary, Richard Alpert, and Ralph Metzner, which in turn was adapted from the Tibetan Book of the Dead. Although Peter Brown believed that Lennon's source for the lyric was the Tibetan Book of the Dead itself, which, he said, Lennon read whilst consuming LSD, George Harrison later stated that the idea for the lyrics came from Leary's, Alpert's and Metzner's book. and Paul McCartney confirmed this, stating that he and Lennon had visited the newly opened Indica bookshop — Lennon was looking for a copy of The Portable Nietzsche — and Lennon had found a copy of The Psychedelic Experience that contained the lines: "When in doubt, relax, turn off your mind, float downstream".

Origins of the title:

When The Beatles returned to London after their first visit to America in early 1964 they were interviewed by David Coleman of BBC Television. The interview included the following:

Interviewer: "Now, Ringo, I hear you were manhandled at the Embassy Ball. Is this right?"
Ringo: "Not really. Someone just cut a bit of my hair, you see."
Interviewer: "Let's have a look. You seem to have got plenty left."
Ringo: (turns head) "Can you see the difference? It's longer, this side."
Interviewer: "What happened exactly?"
Ringo: "I don't know. I was just talking, having an interview (exaggerated voice). Just like I am NOW!"
(John and Paul begin lifting locks of his hair, pretending to cut it)
Ringo: "I was talking away and I looked 'round, and there was about 400 people just smiling. So, you know — what can you say?"
John: "What can you say?"
Ringo: "Tomorrow never knows."
(John laughs)


On the recording and effects:
Lennon first played the song to Brian Epstein, George Martin and the other Beatles at Epstein's house at 24 Chapel Street, Belgravia


The 19-year-old Geoff Emerick was promoted to replace Norman Smith as engineer on the first session for the Revolver album. This started at 8 pm on 6 April 1966, in Studio Three at Abbey Road. Lennon told producer Martin that he wanted to sound like a hundred chanting Tibetan monks, which left Martin the difficult task of trying to find the effect by using the basic equipment they had. Lennon's suggestion was that he be suspended from a rope and—after being given a good push—he would sing as he spun around the microphone. This idea was rejected by Martin, but when asked by Lennon about it, he would only reply with, "We're looking into it." Emerick finally came up with the idea of wiring Lennon's vocal through a Leslie rotating speaker, thus obtaining the desired effect without the need of a rope. Emerick made a connector to break into the electronic circuitry of the cabinet and then re-recorded the vocal as it came out of the revolving speaker.

More here

Post Script from DITHOB: Mad Men must be raking in Big Coin from its own adverts given that last night's show featured the above Beatles' classic and last week, one from the Beach Boys. Coupled with Zoubi Zoubi Zou from earlier this season, which made  its way onto the 30 Rock live episode last week, along with Mad Man in Chief Jon Hamm (in blackface no less),  this show is clearly onto something, as the 21st century revisits the end of the Post-War/Post-Boom era, and the World Tries to find new moorings in a world without tethers that appears to be in free fall.

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