‘Revolution’: The Story Behind The Beatles’ Song

“… John Lennon explained in 1971, ‘Two songs and one abstract. I don’t know what you’d call it… musique concrète, loops and that, which was a picture of a revolution.’ With the exception of the two world wars, 1968 was surely the most explosive and divisive year of the 20th Century. As the year dawned, the Summer Of Love had mutated into the winter of discontent. Revolution was very much in the air, all around the world. Student demonstrations in Paris brought France to its knees – the economy came to a halt, President de Gaulle even briefly fled the country and consulted military generals, fearing all-out civil war. Civil reform movements in Czechoslovakia threatened to destabilise the country, forcing the Soviet Union to send tanks onto the streets of Prague. In London, anti-Vietnam demonstrators in Grosvenor Square clashed with riot police, resulting in 86 people being injured. Over in the US, the assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr, and Robert Kennedy were the headline stories in a year that saw continuous clashes between anti-war or civil-rights protesters and police, climaxing with five days of protest at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago. There was a rise in the women’s liberation movement, and any number of political causes emerged from the underground and the universities of the West. In 1968, no self-respecting student would be without a Che Guevara poster on the wall. John Lennon felt compelled to address the situation in what he wanted to be the next Beatles single. ‘Revolution’ had been written in India, where John was detached from the turmoil enveloping the rest of the world. In it, John suggested that everything was going to be all right, and that maybe people would be better off freeing their minds rather than challenging institutions. … But John’s social commentary was more complex than it may have at first appeared, and betrayed his confusion over which side he was on – John sang ‘Don’t you know that you can count me out/in’, revealing how he was torn between direct action and a non-violent way of bringing about change. … They began on 30 May – while close to half a million protesters took to the streets of Paris. The final take of the day – slated Take 18 – became something of a lengthy experimental jam, running to 10 minutes and 30 seconds. The last six minutes or so were a sonic picture of chaos, with sound-effects tapes, screaming and other vocal improvisations being added. …”
udiscover (Video)
W – Revolution (Beatles song) (Audio)
YouTube: Revolution (Live)

About 1960s: Days of Rage

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