Tomorrow Never Knows

Tomorrow Never Knows

Song infobox
Name = Tomorrow Never Knows

Artist = The Beatles
Album = Revolver
Released = 5 August 1966
track_no = 14
Recorded = Abbey Road Studios
6 April 1966
Genre = Psychedelic rock
Length = 2:57
Writer = Lennon/McCartney
Label = Parlophone
Producer = George Martin
Misc = Extra musicsample |filename=Tomorrow_Never_Knows.ogg|title= Tomorrow_Never_Knows |description= |format=Ogg
Album = Revolver
Type = Song
Tracks = ;Side one
# "Taxman"
# "Eleanor Rigby"
# "I'm Only Sleeping"
# "Love You To"
# "Here, There and Everywhere"
# "Yellow Submarine"
# "She Said She Said";Side two
# "Good Day Sunshine"
# "And Your Bird Can Sing"
# "For No One"
# "Doctor Robert"
# "I Want to Tell You"
# "Got to Get You into My Life"
# "Tomorrow Never Knows"

"Tomorrow Never Knows" is the final track of The Beatles' 1966 studio album "Revolver". It is credited as a Lennon/McCartney song, but was written primarily by John Lennon. Although it was the first song that was recorded, it was the last track on the album.

The song is significant because it contains the first example of a vocal being put through a Leslie speaker cabinet to obtain a vibrato effect (which was normally used as a loudspeaker for a Hammond organ) and the use of an ADT system (Automatic double-tracking) to double the vocal image.

"Tomorrow Never Knows" ends the "Revolver" album in a more experimental fashion than earlier records, which contributed to "Revolver's" reputation as one of the group's most influential and expressive albums. [ [ Beatles, Radiohead albums voted best ever] - Retrieved 27 October 2007 ]


John Lennon wrote the song in January 1966, closely adapted from the book "" by Timothy Leary, Richard Alpert, and Ralph Metzner, which they based on, and quoted from, the "Tibetan Book of the Dead". The understanding from the book was that the "ego death" experienced under the influence of LSD and other psychedelic drugs is essentially similar to the dying process and requires similar guidance. [ [ Pied Piper Of Psychedelic 60's, Dies at 75 – 1 June 1996] - Retrieved 27 October 2007 ] [ [ The first English language translation of the famous Tibetan death text] - Retrieved 27 October 2007 ]

Peter Brown claimed that Lennon's only source of inspiration for the song came from the "Tibetan Book of the Dead", which he says Lennon read whilst consuming LSD. Brown "The Love You Make" (1980)] George Harrison later stated that the idea for the lyrics came from Leary, Alpert, and Metzner's book. "The Beatles Anthology" DVD 2003 (Special Features—Back at Abbey Road May 1995— 0:10:59) Harrison talking about the influences of "The Psychedelic Experience" on Lennon's "Tomorrow Never Knows" lyrics.] McCartney confirmed this by stating that he and Lennon once visited the newly opened Indica bookshop—as Lennon was looking for a copy of "The Portable Nietzsche"—and Lennon found a copy of "The Psychedelic Experience", which quoted the lines: "When in doubt, relax, turn off your mind, float downstream". Spitz 2005 p600] Lennon bought the book, went home, took LSD, and followed the instructions exactly as stated in the book. "The Beatles Anthology" DVD 2003 (Episode 7 - 0:10:05) Lennon talking about his use of LSD.] Spitz 2005 pp600-601]


The title never actually appears in the song's lyrics, but was instead taken from Ringo Starr's collection of malapropisms. Lennon chose to do this because he was embarrassed about the spiritual theme of the lyrics in the song, so he decided to give the song a throwaway title. [ [ Lennon: "I took one of Ringo's malapropisms as the title."] - Retrieved 27 October 2007 ] The piece was originally titled "Mark I". Spitz 2005 p600 ("Mark I" as the original title)] "The Void" is cited as another working title—but according to Mark Lewisohn (and Bob Spitz) this is untrue, although the books, "The Love You Make: An Insider's Story of the Beatles" and "The Beatles A to Z" both cite "The Void" as the original title. Brown "The Love You Make" (1980)]


Lennon first played the song to Brian Epstein, George Martin and the other Beatles at Epstein's house at 24 Chapel Street, Belgravia. Miles 1997 p290] [ [,+Belgravia&sll=54.162434,-3.647461&sspn=18.024308,30.761719&ie=UTF8&z=16&iwloc=addr&om=1 24 Chapel Street, Belgravia] - Retrieved 27 October 2007 ] McCartney remembered that even though the song was only one chord of C, Martin accepted it as it was, and even said that it was, "rather interesting". The song's harmonic structure is derived from Indian music, and is based upon a C drone. The "chord" over the drone is generally C major, with some changes to B flat major. Miles 1997 pp291–292] Spitz 2005 p601]

19-year-old Geoff Emerick was hired to replace Norman Smith as engineer on the first session for the "Revolver" album that started at 8 p.m. on 6 April 1966, in Studio Three at Abbey Road.

Lennon told producer Martin that he wanted it 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"). Spitz 2005 p602] Emerick finally came up with the idea to wire Lennon's voice through a Leslie speaker, thus obtaining the desired effect, and without the need of a rope. Spitz 2005 p600] Miles 1997 p291] The effect was achieved by putting Lennon's vocal through the cabinet—which meant Emerick having to break into the electronic circuitry of the cabinet—and then re-recording the vocal as it came out of the revolving speaker. This created a vibrato effect that was normally used for a Hammond organ. Spitz 2005 p602] "The Beatles Anthology" DVD 2003 (Special Features—Back at Abbey Road May 1995— 0:09:06) Martin talking about the voice effect on "Tomorrow Never Knows".]

As Lennon always hated doing a second take to double the sound of his vocals, Ken Townsend, the studio technical manager, went home that night and created the world's first ADT system by taking the signal from the playback and recording heads and delaying them slightly, thereby creating two sound images and not just one. By altering the speed and frequencies he could also create other different types of effects, which The Beatles used throughout the recording of "Revolver". Spitz 2005 p603] It must be noted that Lennon's vocal was clearly double-tracked on the first three verses of the song—due to the varying differences in the singing—but the full effect of the Leslie cabinet can be heard after the (backwards) guitar solo. [ "Tomorrow Never Knows" (Verses 4/7 - 1:27 until 2:47) ]

Experimentation and tape loops

The track was one of the first pieces of psychedelic rock, including highly compressed drums with reverse cymbals, reverse guitar, processed vocals, looped tape effects, a sitar and a tambur drone, Miles 1997 p291] similar to Harrison's later composition, "Within You Without You".McCartney supplied a bag of ¼ inch-wide audio tape loops he had made by himself at home, which he started making after listening to Stockhausen's "Gesang der Jünglinge". McCartney found out that if he took off the erase head of a tape recorder and then spooled a continuous loop of tape through the machine, anything he recorded would constantly keep overdubbing itself; creating a saturation effect, a technique also used in musique concrète. McCartney encouraged the other Beatles to use the same effect and create their own loops. Spitz 2005 p601]

The numerous tapes McCartney supplied were played on five individual BTR3 tape machines, and controlled by nonplussed EMI technicians in studio two at Abbey Road on 7 April. Miles 1997 p291] "The Beatles Anthology" DVD 2003 (Special Features—Back at Abbey Road May 1995— 0:12:17) McCartney talking about the tape loops he made for "Tomorrow Never Knows".] The four Beatles controlled the faders of each machine, while Martin varied the stereo panning. MacDonald - "Revolution in the Head" - 2005.] The tapes created a seagull/Red Indian effect (which was McCartney shouting/laughing) and were made (like most of the other loops) by superimposition and acceleration (0:07) Miles 1997 p292] Martin explained that the finished mix of the tape loops could never be repeated, because of the complex and random way in which they were laid over the music. "The Beatles Anthology" DVD 2003 (Special Features—Back at Abbey Road May 1995— 0:13:32) Martin talking about the impossibility of recreating the tape loop process.]

The tape loops also contained:
*An orchestral chord of B flat major (0:19)
*A Mellotron Mk.II, played on the "flute" tape set (0:22)
*Another Mellotron played in 6/8 from B flat to C, using the "3 violins" tape set (0:38)
*A sitar-like ascending scalar phrase (actually played on an electric guitar, reversed and severely sped up), recorded with heavy saturation and acceleration (0:56)

The Beatles further experimented with tape loops in "Carnival of Light"—an as-yet-unreleased McCartney piece recorded during the "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" sessions—and "Revolution 9", a John Lennon experimentation released on "The Beatles (album)". [ [ The "Carnival of Light" tapes] - Retrieved 27 October 2007 ]

Mono and stereo versions

One difference between the mono and stereo mixes is the intro: The opening chord fades in gradually on the stereo version, but the mono version features a more sudden fade-in. The mono and stereo versions also have the tape-loop track faded in at slightly different times and different volumes (in general, the loops are louder on the mono mix). On the stereo version a little feedback comes in after the guitar solo which was edited out of the mono mix.


*John Lennon: double-tracked lead vocals, Hammond organ, tambourine and tape loops.
*Paul McCartney: bass, backwards guitar and tape loops.
*George Harrison: sitar and tape loops.
*Ringo Starr: drums and tape loops.
*George Martin: honky tonk piano and tape loops.

The "Love" album remix

In 2006, Martin and his son, Giles Martin, remixed 80 minutes of Beatle music for the Las Vegas stage performance "Love", a joint venture between Cirque du Soleil and the Beatles' Apple Corps Ltd. [ [ Love unveils new angle on Beatles] - Retrieved: 21 September 2007 ] On the Love album, the rhythm to "Tomorrow Never Knows" was mixed with the vocals and melody from "Within You Without You", creating a different version of the two songs. The soundtrack album from the show was released in 2006. [ [ Legendary producer returns to Abbey Road] - Retrieved: 21 September 2007 ] [ [ Beatles smash hits now a mashup] - Retrieved 27 October 2007 ]

Extracts and references in other musical works

The Chemical Brothers' first UK number one "Setting Sun" features a similar drumbeat. Their later single Let Forever Be also has some similarities. Both records feature Noel Gallagher on vocals, who is known for his appreciation of Beatles' music. Lawyers for the (then) three remaining Beatles later wrote to the Chemical Brothers, claiming that they had sampled "Tomorrow Never Knows". Virgin Records hired a musicologist to prove that they had not sampled the song. [ [ The Chemical Brothers "tribute"] - Retrieved 27 October 2007 ] [ [,,253473,00.html "Sly homage"] - Retrieved 27 October 2007 ] The Rutles' song "Joe Public" is based on this song.

Cover versions

As listing every cover version would make this list too long, here is a list of important cover versions:
* The Chameleons on "Strange Times".
* Jad Fair and Daniel Johnston on their collaboration album "It's Spooky".
* Oasis covered it when playing Wembley Stadium in 2000, along with Led Zeppelin's Whole Lotta Love in a medley of songs primarily involving Cigarettes & Alcohol. It can be found on the live album, Familiar To Millions.
* David Lee Roth on his "Diamond Dave" album, under the title, "That Beatles Tune".
* Phil Collins on his "Face value" album, in 1981.
* Living Colour on their "Collideøscope" album, in 2003.
* Trouble on "Plastic Green Head" (1995)
* Michael Hedges recorded an acoustic version of the song for his 1996 album, "Oracle".
* Junior Parker's cover appears in the film "Children of Men". [ [ Children of Men soundtrack] - Retrieved 28 October 2007 ]
* 801, a band founded by Brian Eno and Phil Manzanera, included a radically reworked version recorded as "TNK (Tomorrow Never Knows)" on their album "801 Live".
* Our Lady Peace for the soundtrack for the 1996 movie "The Craft".

The Grateful Dead performed this song often in the early 1990s. A live version of this song was released on Dick's Picks Vol. 27 from a concert at Oakland Coliseum on December 16, 1992


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*Brown, Peter] | title="The Love You Make: An Insider's Story of the Beatles "| publisher=Methuen Publishing| year=1980 | id=ISBN 978-0451207357
*Miles, Barry] | title=Many Years From Now | publisher=Vintage-Random House | year=1997 | id=ISBN 0-7493-8658-4

External links

* [ Article about Tomorrow Never Knows on]
* [ - Rock and Psychedelics in the 1960s Nick Bromell]
* [,M1 - Excerpts from Nick Bromell's book]
* [ Alan W. Pollack's Notes on "Tomorrow Never Knows"]

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