Tomorrow Never Knows
The last song on Revolver, the Beatles' 1966 studio album, is Tomorrow Never Knows. It was the first song recorded for the project, on April 6, 7 and 22 of 1966. John Lennon was the principal author and composer of the song. Tomorrow Never Knows is considered creative, experimental and innovative, thus contributing to the favorable critical reaction to the album as a whole. It is solidly within the genre of "psychedelic rock," which the Beatles helped to invent.
Lennon wrote Tomorrow Never Knows in January, 1966, taking his lyrics from the Tibetan Book of the Dead, as adapted by Timothy Leary et al in The Psychedelic Experience. An unusual feature of the song is that the title does not appear in the words. Rather, the work (provisionally called Mark I and The Void) received its final name from a "Ringoism" that took place when the Beatles returned from their 1964 American tour and were interviewed by the BBC.
Technologically, Tomorrow Never Knows was a pioneering track, as it used ADT (automatic double tracking) for the vocal parts, thus giving the voices more presence in the mix. This was an invention of Ken Townsend, the studio's technical manager, to avoid making John overdub his own voice, a process he did not enjoy. Lennon is recorded through a "Leslie speaker," a device normally used for the Hammond Organ to give it that subtle tremolo effect. This was the suggestion of the then-rookie sound engineer Geoff Emerick, who was trying to meet Lennon's request that the voice sound like "a hundred chanting Tibetan monks." This effect starts with the line, "Love is all and love is everyone." Paul made tape loops that created an Indian feel (unusual modes and scales). Ringo contributed a drum line that seemed to be the opposite of his usual metronome-like constancy. His tom toms were loosened and the drum track compressed, echoed and slowed down. Drums became the focal point of the music, perhaps more notable in this track than in any other recording by the Beatles.
The drone in the song is a C chord with an occasional shift to B-flat. The cymbals and the guitar solo (taken from Taxman) are played backwards, yet another Beatles innovation that became more commonplace in recording sessions for subsequent albums. The arrangement also included Indian instruments: sitar and tambura, and the Mellotron (using flutes and violins).
The first take of Tomorrow Never Knows from the April 6 session can be heard on Anthology 2.