“Revolution 1” (The Beatles)

Renounces violent legal and institutional change in the present, in favor of a preliminary project of individual moral reformism (“free your mind”): the final, most sinister implication of the doctrine, “All you need is love.” Backing track downshifts the impulse to “rock” toward quietistic, contemplative, shooby-doo-wop shuffle. The famed altered lyric in this White Album version, “Don’t you know that you can count me out/in,” amounts to a bit of pandering, really, toward all self-styled revolutionists. Let’s compare it to Marx (Groucho, that is), and his more general allergy to community and inclusion: “I don’t care to belong to any club that will have me as a member.” Marx will have none of it; Lennon, on the other hand, doesn’t want to be bound to the insurgency and its strictures, but would like to continue to serve as sniping, spiritual advisor from the sidelines. Coming off more than a bit Fabian in inclination (and no, not Fabian Forte), it’s useful to remember that the Fabian Society was named after the general Fabius Maximus (280-203 BC), known as the “Cunctator,” or the “Delayer.” Putting off revolution while remaining comfortably glum.


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