Sunday, March 3, 2013

#3 Revolver -- The Beatles

Revolver is an intimidating album to cover, because I actually know a lot about it but don't really want to share the knowledge with you about how they came up with this or that name, or which song helped to influence the psychedelic movement, WTF is Yellow Submarine about anyway, yadda yadda ya.  That kind of music talk is so boring to me, and it's the only kind people even find anymore.  I'm more interested in what you felt when you heard the album.  Where were you when you heard Revolver?  It's like when people talk about authors and poets and not the fucking books.  Example: William Faulkner's life wasn't really that interesting, contrary to his novels.  He didn't know how to mail letters at his job and he had such alcoholism that he was often found covered in vomit passed out on toilet seats, he was short, he got old and wrote his nobel prize speech on the airplane on his way to get the award.  BFD.  Moving on.

Not to mention, everyone already knows everything about the Beatles anyway.  So if you want to learn that shit, go to wikipedia or find you a music blog that doesn't talk about the life that happens around the music.

I recently saw "Lars and the Real Girl" and that movie was so profound that I thought about it while I listened to Revolver over and over again.  The two meshed in my head and I came up with an idea about music that has probably been thought before, but probably nobody was inspired by the supporting actress in Lars and the Real Girl (she's a life size "love doll") to come to this thought.

So, in Lars and the Real Girl, Lars has had a difficult childhood full of abandonment and as an adult, he suffers from this delusion that he has fallen in love with a woman named Bianca, who is actually a life size doll.  About half way through the movie, there is a point where we begin to notice that life happens all around this doll, because of this doll, and in spite of this doll.  The town comes together to assist in the delusion, by having Bianca volunteer around town, hang out with church women, etc. etc. By treating her as a real person, Lars finally realizes that they care about and love him.  Thus, this hunk of plastic begins to bridge the gap between Lars and people.

And I believe that's what music does.  And not just music, but bands as well known as the Beatles specifically.  It doesn't matter what nationality you are, you've heard the Beatles, and they mean something to you.  Even if it's nothing.  My Venezuelan Brother, Daniel (long story) once told me that back in Venezuela, one of the songs they learned in their English class was "yellow submarine" and they had to learn to sing it in English.  It totally makes sense to use that song.  It distinguishes between sky and sea, and there are loads of colors to learn...(woot! go ringo!) but anyway,

Albums are tangible things; they are not alive.  But life happens because of the music they repeat, in spite of the music and all around it.  All the people who have heard Revolver will take that music with them and when they hear Eleanor Rigby, they will think of an old woman they once new, or the person they met in a car while the song was playing and wonder how those people are doing.  Maybe when people hear "Tomorrow Never Knows" they will think about that one time in India when they dropped acid or whatever.  who knows?  Probably tomorrow doesn't.

I thought about how Eleanor Rigby is one of the best songs they ever wrote.  They all supposedly contributed lyrics to it too (if you cared).  I had the string trio I hired play it at my wedding.  And it'll be at my funeral too.

And your bird can sing:

"I don't see too much difference between Revolver and Rubber Soul," George Harrison once said. "To me, they could be Volume One and Volume Two." Revolver extends the more adventurous aspects of its predecessor – its introspection, its nascent psychedelia, its fascination with studio artistry – into a dramatic statement of generational possibility.
The album, which was released in August 1966, made it thrillingly clear that what we now think of as "the Sixties" was fully – and irreversibly – under way.
The most innovative track on the album is John Lennon's "Tomorrow Never Knows." Attempting to distill an LSD trip into a three-minute song, Lennon borrowed lyrics from Timothy Leary's version of The Tibetan Book of the Dead, and recorded his vocal to sound like "the Dalai Lama singing from the highest mountaintop." Tape loops, a backward guitar part (Paul McCartney's blistering solo on "Taxman," in fact) and a droning tamboura completed the experimental effect, and the song proved hugely influential. For his part, on "Eleanor Rigby" and "For No One," McCartney mastered a strikingly mature form of art song, and Harrison, with "Taxman," "I Want to Tell You" and "Love You To," challenged Lennon-McCartney's songwriting dominance.
Part of the album's revolutionary impulse was visual. Klaus Voormann, one of the Beatles' artist buddies from their days in Hamburg, Germany, designed a striking photo-collage cover for Revolver; it was a crucial step on the road to the even trippier, more colorful imagery of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, which would come less than a year later.
Revolver signaled that in popular music, anything – any theme, any musical idea – could now be realized. And, in the case of the Beatles, would be.

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1 comment:

  1. I'm old enough to remember when this album was first released (seems a long time ago in one sense, not so long ago in another). Much of it was like nothing I had ever heard before, and I remember Revolver had more than its share of negative reviews, probably for that very same reason - for many it was like nothing they had heard before, hence there were those who couldn't abide the unfamiliar. But for me, this music helped to 'stretch' my ears and allowed me to explore all kinds of music.

    Of all the Beatles album, this one had the greatest personal influence on me. More than Sgt. Pepper, more than the 'White' album. Not taking away anything from either of those albums at all, but to my ears, in some aspects, the band hit their creative peak with Revolver.