Beatles – Revolution 9

My son walked into his first college Music Appreciation class in August. The Professor was waiting for everyone and played this piece by The Beatles. He turned around and asked the class…Is this considered music or not?

Bailey wasn’t the only one who knew this strange piece and in the end…the Professor said yes it was music…like art, music can come in different forms.

I went to youtube to see some of the comments…I’m going to list a few.

“This is what it feels like to have anxiety.”
“I use this song to test my sanity”
“Terrifying for sure, but it’s kind of beautiful in an abstract way”
“I listened to She Loves You right before this. I can’t believe it’s the same band”
“Still better than Justin Bieber” 

And last but not least: “Listened to this blind drunk and by the end, I swear I saw John wearing Ringo’s skin as an overcoat”

I remember listening to this at 2 in the morning alone in the dark in around 1981…scared me to death. The memory has stayed with me to this day. I have grown to appreciate this sound collage. They were trying something new…and it is interesting.

John Lennon wrote this with contributions from Yoko and George Harrison. It’s a highly experimental piece, which Lennon once called “The music of the future.” It is the most controversial and bizarre track on the album.

John Lennon: “an unconscious picture of what I actually think will happen when it happens; that was just like a drawing of revolution.” “All the thing was made with loops, I had about thirty loops going, fed them onto one basic track. I was getting classical tapes, going upstairs and chopping them up, making it backward and things like that, to get the sound effects. One thing was an engineer’s testing tape and it would come on with a voice saying ‘This is EMI Test Series #9.’ I just cut up whatever he said and I’d number nine it. Nine turned out to be my birthday and my lucky number and everything. I didn’t realize it; it was just so funny the voice saying ‘Number nine’; it was like a joke, bringing number nine into it all the time, that’s all it was.”

From Songfacts

This was made by layering tape loops over the basic rhythm of “Revolution.” Lennon was trying to create an atmosphere of a revolution in progress. The tape loops came from EMI archives, and the “Number 9” voice heard over and over is an engineer testing equipment.

Paul McCartney and Beatles producer George Martin hated this and tried to keep it off the album.

This is the longest Beatles song – it runs 8:15. It also took longer to complete than any other track on album.

This helped fuel the “Paul is dead” rumors. If played backwards, you were supposed to hear the car crash where Paul died, and a voice saying “Turn me on, dead man.” Also, playing the line, “I’m not in the mood for wearing clothing” in reverse eventually becomes a rather odd but clear reversal, “There were two, there are none now.”

This is referencing the rumor that Paul McCartney died in a car with “Lovely Rita” and that the two were burned away after the wreck.

The rumor took off in October 1969 when a listener called the radio station WKNR in Detroit and told the DJ Russ Gibb about the backward message. When Gibb played it backwards on his show, listeners went wild and spent the next week calling in and offering their own rumors. The story quickly spread, and McCartney helped it along by laying low and letting it play out.

Lennon felt the number 9 was quite significant. He was happy that, after he changed his name to John Ono Lennon, his and Yoko’s names collectively contained 9 O’s. >>

According to the book The Beatles, Lennon And Me, by John Lennon’s childhood friend Pete Shotton, One evening, Lennon was with Shotton in the attic of his Kenwood home, tripping on LSD and smoking a few joints. They messed about with John’s Brunnel recorders, fiddling with feedback, running recordings backwards and creating tape loops. Opening the windows for some fresh air, John and Pete began to shout whatever was on their minds at the trees outside, the recorder running. This night’s lark was to later captured on “Revolution 9.” >>

Marilyn Manson released their own version of this on the B-side of the single for “Get Your Gunn.” It was called “Revelation 9” and ran 12:57. >>

This was parodied on an episode of The Simpsons. When the guys for a group called The B-Sharps, Barney meets a girl during recording. He exclaims at the studio that he’s making the music of all time. The song is Barney’s girl friend (with striking resemblance to Yoko Ono) saying “Number 8” and Barney burping. >>

Charles Manson thought that when they screamed the words “Right!” it was actually “Rise!” meaning the black community rising over the white people. Charles Manson was of course crazy, and thought The Beatles were warning about a race war.

Revolution 9

lyrics?… Oh, yea…Number 9, Number 9…then the madness starts.

Author: badfinger20

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

13 thoughts on “Beatles – Revolution 9”

  1. When I was younger, I used to skip over this one to “Good Night,” but as I’ve gotten older I find I can handle the weirdness. It’s interesting to listen to it with headphones… adds a whole different dimension to the piece.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. As a teenager when I got into The Beatles- I admit to not liking it- considered it a waste- but as time went on I have grown to appreciate and love Revolution #9… my wife doesn’t share the same feeling… two songs she hates- Revolution #9 and Alice’s Restaurant!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m the same way. The older I get the more interesting it is…it was a nice try at something different.
      Jennifer will repeat Number 9 when she is bored but that is about all. Sounds like long songs are not her forte! But with this one I get it.

      Liked by 1 person

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