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The B-side to Paul McCartney’s Hey Jude, John Lennon’s blistering Revolution formed what might be one half of rock’s greatest-ever single (with the closest contender being, ironically enough, Penny Lane/Strawberry Fields Forever).
Amid machine-gun-like distorted guitars and walloping drums, the song features Lennon firing off some of his most potent political salvos. As a flipside to Hey Jude, it’s a night-and-day dichotomy.
Originally, Lennon had wanted Revolution 1, the slower, horn-flavored version on The White Album, to be on the single, but McCartney and Harrison argued that it wasn’t worthy. Infuriated, and with everything to prove, Lennon gathered the band (along with Nicky Hopkins, who played electric piano) to cut this balls-out, uptempo single rendition, with guitars going direct into the recording console to the point of sonic overload (much to the dismay of engineer Geoff Emerick) creating that unforgettable fuzztone.
While the lyrics on Revolution 1 saw Lennon appearing to have it both ways - he sings “count me out/in,” when it came to destruction - on the rave-up single version, recorded just weeks later, he had apparently made up his mind, stating categorically that you could count him “out.”