Much was afoot in London today. On Abbey Road The Beatles continued to work on “Revolution”; at Olympic Studios, about 7 miles away, the Rolling Stones had convened to rehearse a new song with the working title “The Devil Is My Name.”

Over a period of a week this song would evolve from a slow dirge into a bouncy samba with “woo, woo” backing vocals. We know it today as “Sympathy for the Devil,” which is also the name of a feature film directed by Jean-Luc Godard that shows the Stones at work — among many other things. Here’s a preview:

There’s some great footage in there but unfortunately the movie as a whole is a turgid, pretentious mess. And by showing long stretches in the studio where nothing much is happening, Godard sometimes even manages to make the Stones boring. Still, for the serious fan it’s worth checking out, as long as you keep the fast-forward button close at hand.

Meanwhile, over to the northeast, John Lennon wanted to rerecord his lead vocal for “Revolution.” Continuing his eternal quest for a different vocal sound, John decided that he’d like to sing this one lying on his back.

Lying on his back shoeless, no less, surrounded by several cups of tea. (And we all know how The Beatles felt about tea.)

He also decided that he was indecisive about destruction. This was the session where after singing “Don’t you know that you can count me out,” he equivocated by muttering “In” as well.

Also at today’s session:

  • Paul, George, and Francie Schwartz recorded more backing vocals, including a long stretch of them chanting “Mama, dada” which went unused in the final product.
  • Ringo added a drum part, John a guitar part, and Paul some organ.
  • Tape loops were created from a snippet of all The Beatles singing a high-pitched note and a squealing guitar riff.

At this point “Revolution” was still 10+ minutes long. At the end of the session a mono mix including all the extant elements was created; officially logged as Take 20, it sounded like this:

Lennon would take this home, ponder it, and end up truncating it to a little over four minutes. He would then funnel the chaos and strangeness of the deleted minutes into “Revolution 9.” And of course he would eventually record yet another, very different version for a single release. But that’s far in the future at this point; for the moment, let us rest.

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