As the B-side of "Hey Jude," "Revolution" formed one-half of a worthy contender for the best rock single of all time. As with another contender, "Penny Lane"/"Strawberry Fields Forever," each side represented one of the best and most characteristic songwriting efforts by Paul McCartney and John Lennon, respectively (even if they were billed to Lennon-McCartney jointly, out of contractual custom). "Revolution" was, of course, quite different in tone from "Hey Jude," one of the group's best ballads. In contrast, "Revolution" was one of their greatest, most furious rockers, also featuring some of Lennon's most challenging, fiery lyrics. It must first be noted that two entirely different arrangements of "Revolution" were recorded and released. A slow one with doo wop-inspired harmonies, officially titled "Revolution 1," appeared on The Beatles (popularly known as the White Album); the faster and, most would agree, superior version appeared on the B-side of the "Hey Jude" single. The song described here will be the single version, simply entitled "Revolution." Leading off with a startling machine-gun fuzz guitar riff and a scream, the heart immediately starts pounding before Lennon goes into the first verse. (Trivia note: An obscure 1954 recording by bluesman Pee Wee Crayton, "Do Unto Others," has an opening riff that sounds almost identical to the riff that opens "Revolution." Coincidence, or not?) Combining one of his throatiest vocals and the consistently buzzing, fuzzy guitars, you have one of the most down-and-dirty Beatles tracks ever. In "Revolution," Lennon seems to be questioning, quite reasonably, the validity of changing the world through violent means. He was setting himself up for criticism from all sides here, particularly in the turbulent year of 1968: the establishment was angered by anyone talking about "Revolution" in any context, while some of the left viewed refusal to overthrow society by any means necessary as a cowardly sellout. Lennon is quite emphatic, however, that when it comes to violence, you can count him out. (Typically, he would sit on the fence on this issue over the years, and in "Revolution 1," qualify his observation by immediately singing the word "in" after declaring that he could be counted out.) Characteristically, optimism prevails in the Beatles' world, even when taking on one of the most explosive subjects possible, as on the uplifting chorus (helped greatly by harmony vocals), when the group urgently and repeatedly reassures listeners that everything's going to be all right. Those reassurances become sing-shouts in the final refrain, though the loud guitar figures in the background imply that everything might not be all right, as does a final near-hysterical repetition of the phrase by Lennon. "Revolution," incidentally, was one of the few Beatles tracks to feature a contribution from an outside rock session musician, Nicky Hopkins, who adds ebullient keyboards to the performance.