Revolution 9 is the penultimate track on The Beatles, which is commonly known as The White Album. Entirely composed of random voices, songs and snippets of noise, it was a creation made solely by John Lennon and Yoko Ono, with George Harrison assisting at times; The other band members and George Martin hated it.

Lennon said it represented an image he tried to paint of revolution. It was inspired by several other Avant-garde types of music. It was first conceived as an additional coda to Revolution. This became its own project after Lennon had added sound effects and reversed audio. It runs for a total of eight minutes, the longest project released by The Beatles.

Reception to the track is varied: From an "embarrassment" to "anti-masterpiece" to "beautifully organized," fans and critics are divided on the nature of the track, some fully hating it, others enjoying it.

It has also been interpreted different ways. Some saw connections to the Paul is dead theory, and Charles Manson has seen it as an example of his "Helter Skelter" scenario, in which an interracial war will take place. Some simply dismiss it as garbage.

Background and recording[edit | edit source]

"Revolution 9" is one of few Beatles experimental tracks, the other being "Carnival of Light", done by Paul McCartney during "Penny Lane" recording sessions. Both Lennon and McCartney had inspiration from Karlheinz Stockhausen, and his work titled Hymnen can be seen as inspiration for the song. Yoko Ono was also a powerful influence on Lennon; Their previous and first work together, Unfinished Music No. 1: Two Virgins, was similar to "Revolution 9". Lennon was intrigued by the screams and random talk of Ono, so he let her pick which tapes to use.

The first bits of "Revolution 9" came from a recording session for "Revolution", which was just simply Lennon and a guitar. It soon evolved into a ten-minute "jam" with Lennon screaming "Alright!" and Ono occasionally speaking at times, like as saying, "You become naked." This recording session became two projects: The first part became "Revolution 1", and the second transforming into "Revolution 9". He began to mix tapes of random noises supplied from EMI and began mixing it in until the STEED system ran out. Additional sound was added later with George Harrison assisting.

Final overdubs took place on June 21, and Lennon himself mixed the audio into stereo and mono. When the project was completed, McCartney returned from holiday, as he had been gone during most of the process. Dissatisfied, McCartney tried to persuade Lennon to drop the song from the album; He refused.

Lyrics[edit | edit source]

[Spoken]

(Bottle of Claret for you if I had realised?)

(Well, do it next time)

(I forgot about it, George, I’m sorry)

(Will you forgive me?)

(Mmm... yes)

(Cheeky bitch!)


[Chorus]

Number 9, number 9, number 9, number 9, number 9, number 9, number 9, number 9, number 9, number 9, number 9, number 9, number 9, number 9, number


[Verse 1]

Then there’s this Welsh Rarebit wearing some brown underpants

About the shortage of grain in Hertfordshire

Everyone of them knew that as time went by

They’d get a little bit older and a litter slower but

It’s all the same thing, in this case manufactured by someone who’s always

Umpteen your father’s giving it diddly-i-dee

District was leaving, intended to pay for


[Chorus]

Number 9, number 9


[Refrain]

Who's to know?

Who was to know?


[Chorus]

Number 9, number 9, number 9, number 9, number 9, number 9, number 9, number 9, number 9, number 9, number 9, number 9


[Verse 2]

I sustained nothing worse than

Also for example

Whatever you’re doing

A business deal falls through

I informed him on the third night

When fortune gives


[Chorus]

Number 9, number 9, number 9, number 9, number 9, number 9, number 9, number 9, number 9, number 9, number 9, number 9


[Bridge]

Right! Right!

Right, right, right, right!

Right!

Right!


[Chorus]

Number 9, number 9, number 9, number 9, number 9, number 9, number 9, number 9, number 9, number 9, number 9, number 9


[Verse 3]

I’ve missed all of that

It makes me a few days late

Compared with, like, wow!

And weird stuff like that

Taking our sides sometimes

Floral bark

Rouge doctors have brought this specimen

I have nobody’s short-cuts, aha?


[Chorus]

Number 9, number 9, number 9, number 9, number 9, number 9, number 9, number 9, number 9, number 9, number 9, number 9


[Verse 4]

With the situation

They are standing still

The plan, the telegram

Ooh ooh


[Refrain]

Ooh


[Verse 5]

A man without terrors from beard to false

As the headmaster reported to me

My son he really can try as they do to find function

Tell what he was saying, and his voice was low and his hive high

And his eyes were low'


[Pre-Chorus]

Alright!


[Chorus]

Number 9, number 9, number 9, number 9, number 9, number 9, number 9, number 9, number 9, number 9, number 9, number 9


[Verse 6]

So the wife called me and we’d better go to see a surgeon

Or whatever to price it? yellow underclothes

So, any road, we went to see the dentist instead

Who gave her a pair of teeth which wasn’t any good at all

So I said I’d marry, join the fucking navy and went to sea

In my broken chair, my wings are broken and so is my hair

I’m not in the mood for whirling

Um da

Aaah


[Verse 7]

How?

Dogs for dogging, hands for clapping

Birds for birding and fish for fishing

Them for themming and when for whimming

Only to find the night-watchman

Unaware of his presence in the building

Onion soup


[Chorus]

Number 9, number 9, number 9, number 9, number 9, number 9, number 9, number 9, number 9, number 9, number 9, number 9


[Verse 8]

Industrial output

Financial imbalance

Thrusting it between his shoulder blades

The Watusi

The twist

Eldorado

Take this brother, may it serve you well

Maybe it’s nothing

Aaah

Maybe it’s nothing

What? What? Oh


[Verse 9]

Maybe even then

Impervious in London

Could be difficult thing

It’s quick like rush for peace is

Because it’s so much

It was like being naked

If you became naked


[Outro]

Hold that line, hold that line!

Block that kick, block that kick!

Personnel[edit | edit source]

  • John Lennon – spoken vocals, tape loops, sound effects, piano, mellotron, cymbals, screaming, mumbling
  • George Harrison – spoken vocals, tape loops, sound effects, electric guitar
  • Yoko Ono – spoken vocals, tape loops, sound effects
  • George Martin – spoken vocals
  • Alistair Taylor - spoken vocals
  • Unidentified EMI engineer – spoken vocals

In addition, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr performed on the extended "Revolution" coda, elements of which were used intermittently in "Revolution 9".

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