Beatles: Revolution Meaning
Song Released: 1968
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Well you know
We all want to change the world
You tell me that it's evolution
Well you know
We all want to change the world
But when you talk about destruction
Don't you know you can count me out
anonymous Apr 4th, 2008 4:00pm report
This song is about the radicals protesting the war. They are talking about the protesters becoming too radical and almost as bad as the government. A lot of people asked them to contribute to causes to protest the war, but protests were becoming very extreme, hence "but when you want money for people with minds that hate" you'll have to wait. also they spoke of protesters wanting to change the world with a revolution but they started being destructive and it's not about Mao in the physical sense, but more of an example of how extreme they were becoming. that they weren't going to have followers if they were so radical. so basically it's about closed minded radicals opposing closed minded government. at least that's what I think.
The song takes a look at those who vehemently criticize the government, and questions whether the alternatives they propose (if they actually have any) are truly any better than what they are criticizing. This especially rings true about the 60's "revolutionary" period, but can still ring true with some people today (think: those politically-active activist college students you know/knew and who are always going to rallies and protests, who apparently think that the government can do no right, and honestly think that they hold all the answers to their society's problems).
It seems like John is acknowledging that the world no doubt has a lot of problems, and that there is always some need for change and progress to fix them. And it's okay to be passionate about such things, as long as you maintain perspective and stay true to what you preach (i.e. actually living up to your stated ideals of peace, nonviolence, tolerance, open-mindedness, etc.) But when you become radical and intolerant, and begin advocating violence as a solution, then you become just as bad as the system you're protesting again.
What's more, if you become radical, you're also a hypocrite. Protestors preach the virtues of love and harmony, and then go on to advocate violence against their fellow man (those in the government). They speak highly of peace and freedom, and then go on to fly the banners of murderous, totalitarian tyrants like Mao Zedong or Che Guevara. How do such contradictions make any sense? They don't.
There is no such thing as violence in the name of peace. As soon as you let your righteous indignation over legitimate grievances degenerate into blind hatred of your opponents, you lose all credibility. A "revolution" driven by such a mentality does not improve society, as it was supposedly intended to do. It simply replaces one tyranny with another.
anonymous Mar 12th, 2009 3:02pm report
you say you want a revolution, well you know we all want to change the world --- this means that we all want to make the world the way we want it but we're not starting a revolution.
you tell me it's evolution, well you know we all wanna change the world--- you go preaching that we'll be better with a revolution.
but if when you talk about destruction, dontcha know that you can count me out?--- i'm all for change, but if it means hurting people, i don't want anything to do with it.
dontcha know it's gonna be alright--- self-explanatory.
you say you have a real solution well you know, we'd all love to see the plan--- you have a real answer? well, put up or shut up. let's see it.
you ask me for a contribution, well you know we're all doing the best we can. but if you want money for people with minds that hate, all i can tell you brother is you've got to wait--- i'd give a contribution but i have this tiny fear you'll use it to manifest your hate into death.
you say you'll change the constitution, well you know we all wanna change your head---- maybe you should think of changing your own mindset before changing the constitution.
you tell me it's the institution, well you know you better free your mind instead. and if you carrying pictures of chairman mao, you aint gonna make it with anyone anyhow --- stop blaming the government for your own problems. and if you keep preaching Mao's words, nobody will take you seriously.
anonymous Mar 5th, 2018 3:43am report
My friend told me she disliked the guitar work, and distortion in this song, I was definitely in defence of this song, mostly for the hilarious Anti-Communist, Anti-Marxist lyrical genius of Lennon-McCartney. So here I go hahaha...
George was playing his guitar with distortion to portray the message in his own way. What if the distortion is meant to symbolize the distortion of the hippy movement, they are all preaching virtue, and peace, yet they espouse Communism and Marxism, and slander the Free Market. By saying they want to burn down the Free Farket to solve the disparities of the world, even though the Free Market is the only reason they have the privileges to even question thr system. The rest of the instruments are muffled in the song, almost sound muted to a degree, and maybe that also represents the muffled sound of the protestors, how together they just sound like a muffled crowd all trying to make their points but never actually coming up with even a single message they all can agree with other than burn it down? Even the guitar solos in this song are screeching, and almost erratic, also the piano just clatters behind it, and even that reminds me of the constant chatter and irrational demands of that movement.
anonymous Mar 23rd, 2016 3:31pm report
One of the BEATLES great ''Anti-Communist'' songs along with the one percent ''Communist Leaders'' that came to be called who killed THE CZAR and CAPITALISM that gave power all over the world that hijacked and still wanna hijack JOHN LENNON'S political ''REVOLUTION'' of the people's need, cause and meaning of what ''TRUE SOCIALISM'' was suppose to bring and accomplish for all people. That was then and even in today's time, but without the violent death and the takeover of private property, but just to bring a ''CHANGING OF THE GUARDS'' that ruled and still rule that came to infiltrate us under a different name, but are still the one percent of COMMUNISTS[Zionists,neocons Nazis] practicing and using DEMOCRACY form of Government as a cover of illusion where in the long run it ''gives everyman the right to be his own oppressor'' because by the illusion ''when everybody is somebody, then nobody is somebody'' in reality, but only to be made by the illusion to be somebody. For example of what our x Pres. W.WILSON said in 1912 ''I believe in democracy because it releases the energies of every human being''. This may have been well intented, but still dangerous to empower the people by the illusion they have the power and freedom that can be misunderstood by their minds to be diciplined in. Where in, if the people's unrest gets rattled it can lead towards a destructive form of Revolution to release everybody's energy to try to change the world according to their point of wants more than their needs.
anonymous Nov 8th, 2011 11:37am report
I believe their interpretation was that they wanted to get the word out on the Vietnam War.
anonymous Jun 23rd, 2011 6:07pm report
"when you talk about destruction don't you know that you can count me out-in" -the destruction of religion, religion causes war. Inside beatles joke, no one ever notices John singing (in) after he says out. Peace, revolution... Many believe they were satanist... Against god, they are too this day ahead of their time. War will be the end of us all
anonymous Jan 18th, 2011 1:32pm report
"Holy crap, it wasn't John who sung this song it was George Harrison the coolest Beatle of all and i think it was supposed to say that the world is a bad place to live (not like there are any other places to live) but there are so many bad examples out there like war it sucks killing people is bad robbery that's bad and its making people like me miserable and it makes them want to go mug someone. and with pollution we are slowly destroying the earth"
Okay, Harrison rarely ever sang lead on a song, this doesn't seem like the type of song that he'd sound very good at. Lennon and McCartney were the lead singers, not George. This has nothing to do with muggings or pollution! N-O-T-H-I-N-G! I think the meaning of this song is there is very little you can do to change the world.
"I think it's saying that we could make the earth a better place to live like if the USA were not to retaliate in such a violent way when iraq bombed them or what ever the hell they during 9/11 the world would be better. as well as with the vietiam war and wwi and wwii. if those wars didn't happen the world would love each other more and the would be peace."
The only war this really has to do with is Vietnam.
"I think Lennon also tried to explain that in his song " imagine " but then he was shot in the head by some ass hole in the 80's shot, come on he was trying to make peace and now that ass is hated for shottin lkennon and now if he's not dead now people are probably trying to kill him but then a fan of him and the Beatles goes and kills him and making it harder for the world to love."
Lennon was shot four times. Twice in the back, one in the BASE OF HIS NECK, and the shot that killed him was the shot to his heart...that severed the one major valve that I have no idea how to spell.
"Love is the most important thing in the world if u didn't get any love u might as well pick a fight for breathing in your air."
I think Lennon would have agreed with love being the most important thing in the world, the rest of that statement is bogus though.
"Love and peace is what the Beatles wanted as well as many other people but now were just killing everyone for fun ."
Wrong wrong wrong. I don't know about the other three, But Lennon wanted peace a hell of a lot more than the others did. And you couldn't be any further from being right! There is ALWAYS a reason as to why someone commits murder! Not for the f*****g fun of it.
"Therefor I am telling you this song is not about war and killing unlike goth rock its about peace and love on earth one day with out war would make my life awesome.
War is always justified for some certain reason.
Michael Sear Jan 8th, 2011 1:13am report
While many of the interpretations here are very insightful and logical, the song is cryptic to the point that I don’t think anyone but John, and maybe Yoko and the other Beatles, know exactly what he’s saying. I think John, like most passionate people that grab-on to a cause, tendered to go a bit overboard with his radical views. He admitted years later that his early political views were naïve but that he still believed in love and peace and was optimistic about the future. John was brilliant but got involved with the wrong people. He later saw the error of some of his ways.
I agree that John was telling the so-called revolutionaries that if they go carrying pictures of brutal murderous dictators it would taint their credibility. Much like Johnny Depp’s tattoo of Che. Does Depp really think that such a person was out to make the world a better place - or is he just wanting us all to believe he’s a free-thinking radical? Or is it just a flattering picture which is all many pop-culture drones care about? I doubt Depp even knows. Such people hurt otherwise legitimate causes and send moronically mixed messages. Frankly, it makes them look like uneducated extremist fools. I think John understood this to a degree.
When he says, in the song as to violence, “you can count me out…in“, I think that was a time in his life when he was starting to take (fueled by Yoko who is a certifiable whack job) his thoughts to the extreme. I think he was getting caught-up in the extreme radical nature of the peace movement. Much like a child that resorts to physical violence when it doesn’t get its way. A tantrum, if you will.
Today you’ll often hear a left-wing radical say they are “left of Castro.” Are they really? Would they move to Cuba to bask in the glory of their God-like hero and take advantage of his divinely inspired methods of ruling? Of course not. They stay in the United States where they are truly free. But, they are so venomous in their radical ideology that they must take the rhetoric to the extreme. I think John did the same thing…at least for a time.
anonymous Jan 7th, 2011 1:40pm report
This is pretty weak, but hear me out.
First (rather, second), I would like to say that I am talking about Revolution I, not the single. I'm just hearing the emotions this way.
This song is about a man who is indirectly being pressured into joining some sort of revolution, or at least violent protest. (The way John says "You say you want a revolution? Well... you know... We all want to change the world." points to being nervous when asked to join something)
A few lines that sound like ways people were trying to pass off these extreme actions:
I've got a real solution (really "you say you've got")
It's the institution (many hippies and war protesters at the time were known as believing the government and businesses were responsible for their problems)
It's gonna' be alright!
Now, the main character (I say "character", because I don't know if John is supposed to be telling this as some random citizen, not himself directly):
When you talk about destruction, don't you know that you can count me out!(some of the violent protests)...in(added as if the person is stammering, like they are very nervous)
We'd all love to see the plan. (people can talk about wanting to revolt, even if they have no plan, way to carry it out, or even desire to)
Ask me for a contribution? We all do with what we can. (could be revolutionaries asking for donations. Or possibly charities trying to support the troops in... I think Vietnam(second parentheses: I can't remember when the Vietnam Civil War took place), some maybe not because of the reason for the war, but because they wanted to see victory, regardless of motive, which would be shown in the next line) (charities being turned down because of... bad economy?) (I need both a history lesson and to think of this from the perspective of somebody living in England, so sorry.)
If you want money from people with minds that hate (aforementioned revolutionary/wrong-motive charity) All I can tell you is, brother, you have to wait (you're not getting any money from him), so basically the same as the last 2 lines, but more aggressive.
You want to change the Constitution? Well... you know... We'd all love to change it. (revolutionaries. think about it)
You'd better free your mind instead (open up your mind. Things are not as bad with the country as you make it seem. Just relax.
If you go carrying pictures of Chairman Mao (I believe Mao won his dictatorship in a revolution), you ain't gonna' make it wth anyone, anyhow. (People aren't going to respect you. They're not going to join you.)
That's all I have to say. I hope you understood it.
anonymous Oct 9th, 2010 10:17pm report
The song is saying that if you want to convince people to do something you cant just say everything is wrong and offer no real solutions. About the Mao thing I think it means that if you want to be communist you cant be to open about your real intentions cuz everyone knows communism doesnt work so you have to disguise it till you have enough followers.
anonymous Mar 13th, 2010 3:05am report
I believe that this song was a conversation between John Lennon and Chairman Mao. Mao wanted to do something radical to change the current Chinese economic and social state. If you read about the "Great Leap Forward," Mao divided the country into communes and forced the people to stop farming in order to produce metal in their own back yards. Instead of $, they got food rations. If they did not make thier "contribution," they were murdered and tortured. Their agricultural production suffered severely and forced a famine...Mao was ultimately responsible for the deaths of probably more than 20 million people. Lennon is saying: "So you say you (to Mao) want a revolution? Well, we ALL want to change the world." When he says:"You tell me that its evolution...well, we all want to change the world..." I feel like he is being sarcastic and witty. Kind of like saying "who made you God??" Basically, I interpret this song as Lennon expressing, in a brilliant way, what he would like to say to him.
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