John Lennon Wanted Thousands of Monks to Chant on 1 Song From The Beatles’ ‘Revolver’

TL;DR:

  • John Lennon had an “impractical” idea for a song from The Beatles’ Revolver.
  • He revealed what he thought of the finished song.
  • The Beatles’ Revolver became a hit in multiple countries.
Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, John Lennon, and George Harrison on the cover of The Beatles' 'Revolver'
The Beatles’ ‘Revolver’ | Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

John Lennon wanted thousands of monks to chant on a song from The Beatles’ Revolver. He subsequently realized this was impractical but he wished the final song was closer to his original idea. Notably, The Beatles’ longtime producer compared the Fab Four’s creative process to that of a famous painter.

John Lennon felt 1 of the songs from The Beatles’ ‘Revolver’ was ‘a bit of a drag’

The 1968 book The Beatles: The Authorised Biography includes many asides from the Fab Four. In one of them, John discussed how his songs didn’t always reflect his ideas. “Often the backing I think of early on never comes off,” he revealed.

John then brought up a song from The Beatles’ Revolver. “With ‘Tomorrow Never Knows,’ I’d imagined in my head that in the background you would hear thousands of monks chanting,” he recalled. “That was impractical of course, and we did something different.”

John was not a fan of the final product. “It was a bit of a drag and I didn’t really like it,” he said. “I should have tried to get near my original idea, the monks singing. I realize now that that was what I wanted.”

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Why producer George Martin felt The Beatles’ creative process was similar to that of Pablo Picasso

George Martin was the producer behind numerous Beatles songs. He compared The Beatles’ creative process to that of a famous painter. He noted that an idea can evolve drastically. “I once saw a film of [Pablo] Picasso at work,” Martin said. 

“He starts with an idea, then he overlays it with something else,” the producer continued. “He still has the same basic idea, but he changes it by putting something else over it. Sometimes the original idea can get obliterated.”

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How The Beatles’ ‘Revolver’ performed on the charts in the United States and the United Kingdom

The Beatles never released “Tomorrow Never Knows” as a single in the United States, so it did not chart on the Billboard Hot 100. The Beatles included the song on the album Revolver. The album topped the Billboard 200 for six of its 85 weeks on the chart.

According to The Official Charts Company, “Tomorrow Never Knows” didn’t chart in the United Kingdom either. Meanwhile, Revolver reached No. 1 for seven weeks. Revolver remained on the chart for 34 weeks in total. The song would receive extra attention when Our Lady Peace covered it for the soundtrack of the 1990s cult classic The Craft.

“Tomorrow Never Knows” is a classic Beatles song even if it doesn’t reflect John’s original vision.

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