Thursday, 2 April 2020

10:64 Revolution (pt.4) All We Are Saying - Lyrics


Revolution is one of Lennon's most tightly structured lyrics. You can break the whole song down as follows

Verse: “You say you want to do this, but I'm not sure. I for one have reservations. You say you want to do that but I'm not sure. Again, I have reservations".

pre-chorus: “But when you propose this other thing, that's going too far”.

Chorus: “You should just chill out”.

Employing the Beatles favourite device of parallel lyrics (Ticket 24) makes the structure clearer and more memorable

Verse: “You say you … Well, you know we … You tell me/you ask me … Well, you know we …"

pre-chorus: “But when you/but if you …”

A Mild Case of Rhymes Disease

The facsimiles included in the 50th Anniversary Edition book reveal a Harrison-style list of rhymes

distribution [?]
Constitution [?]

but where While My Guitar Gently Weeps (and Dig A Pony for that matter) succumb to Rhymes Disease, letting rhymes dictate what the song is saying and being so obvious that it distracts from the meaning, Revolution's wordplay manages to be cute and memorable.

In this it shares much with it's spiritual successor, Give Peace A Chance. Released a year later it's another campfire friendly peace anthem, marrying a rhyme-laden, preachy verse to a mantra like chorus. It even gives the previous song a self-referential nod "everybody's talking 'bout revolution, evolution..." If anything Give Peace A Chance distils the core concepts even further and is arguably more successful for it.

Don't Break It Till You Make It

The Beatles weren't afraid to break a rhyme scheme (Ticket 73) if they had a good reason, but here Lennon does something different. The first verse has one rhyme (A) and two repeated lines (b & c), and the first pre-chorus doesn't rhyme at all (X)

Abc Abc XX

A You say you want a revolution
b Well, you know
c We all want to change the world

A You tell me that it's evolution
b Well, you know
c We all want to change the world

X But when you talk about destruction
X Don't you know that you can count me out

But the second and third verses/pre-choruses introduce a more rigorous rhyme structure



A You say you got a real solution
b Well, you know
C We'd all love to see the plan

A You ask me for a contribution
b Well, you know
C We're doing what we can

D But if you want money for people with minds that hate
D All I can tell is brother you have to wait


A You say you'll change the constitution
b Well, you know
C We all want to change your head

A You tell me it's the institution
b Well, you know
C You better free you mind instead

D But if you go carrying pictures of chairman Mao
D You ain't going to make it with anyone anyhow

The rhyme structure works brilliantly as it is (admit it, you didn't even notice, right?) but if the order of the verses are reversed the lack of rhymes in the first part lands badly, especially on the pre-chorus (destruction/count me out). Once you've set up the expectation of rhyme you're committed. So Lennon wisely doesn't let his poetic soul write cheques his rhyming dictionary can't cash. Or something.

This shows how skilful you have to be to use ticket 73. To break a rhyme you really have to be obeying some higher logic or structure device that the listener can sense if only subconsciously.

Ticket 24: Repeat words and sentence structures
Ticket 73: Interrupt the rhyme scheme by rhyming with a previous section or anticipating one that follows

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