It was on this day, April first 1966 when John Lennon bought a copy of Timothy Leary’s “The Psychedelic Experience and The Tibetan Book Of The Dead” No foolin’ where he read near the beginning of the book’s introduction; “When in doubt, relax, turn off your mind, float downstream,” which captured Lennon’s imagination and became the first line of ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’ which he recorded 5 days later.
When writing the song, Lennon drew inspiration from his experiences with the hallucinogenic drug LSD and from the book The Psychedelic Experience: A Manual Based on the Tibetan Book of the Dead by Timothy Leary, Richard Alpert and Ralph Metzner. The Beatles’ recording employed musical elements foreign to pop music, including musique concrète, avant-gardecomposition and electro-acoustic sound manipulation. It features an Indian-inspired modalbacking of tambura and sitar drone and bass guitar, with minimal harmonic deviation from a single chord, underpinned by a constant but non-standard drum pattern; added to this, tape loopsprepared by the band were overdubbed “live” onto the rhythm track. Part of Lennon’s vocal was fed through a Leslie speaker cabinet, normally used for a Hammond organ. The song’s backwards guitar parts and effects marked the first use of reversed sounds in a pop recording, although the Beatles’ 1966 B-side “Rain“, which they recorded soon afterwards using the same technique, was issued over three months before Revolver, where “Tomorrow Never Knows” closes out The Beatles most experimental album to date!