The last track on 1966's Revolver, 'Tomorrow Never Knows' is a pulsing, psychedelic, one-chord masterpiece. Credited to Lennon/McCartney, the song was written by Lennon and inspired by the Tibetan Book of the Dead. On its release, 'Tomorrow Never Knows' was the most adventurous composition and recording by the band to date.
The song's droning harmony is built around one chord, a C major, an innovation borrowed from Indian music. According to Bob Spitz's book The Beatles: The Biography, Lennon's heavily processed vocal – he requested a sound like a "hundred chanting Tibetan monks" – puzzled engineers, who eventually used a rotating organ speaker cabinet to achieve the sound. Lennon's original idea was to sing the song while spinning on a rope, suspended from the studio ceiling.
The Revolver version is also notable for its use of found sound, including seagull sounds, orchestras, and sitars, played from numerous tape loops, and guitars recorded and played back backward.
'Tomorrow Never Knows' has been called the first-ever psychedelic recording and directly influenced those who would go on to spawn new genres like psychedelia, techno music, and Krautrock.
'Tomorrow Never Knows':