“You say you want a revolution, … we all want to change the world…” Revolution, The Beatles
Revolution. Change. We are told every election “This is a change election”. President Obama promised us “Change You Can Believe In”. Trump wants to “Make America Great Again”. Hillary was hoping to make us “Stronger Together”. And Bernie Sanders called us to “Feel the Bern” in a people’s movement. But where are we heading?
When I was in high school, my teachers at Iona Prep would hold “mini-courses” during the doldrums of early March. It was a few days away from learning Physics, Calculus, English, and History to open our minds and let the faculty spread their wings a little. You could take a two day course in Yoga, Poetry, Disco Dancing, or some other alternative learning experience. Faculty and students alike enjoyed the break. One mini-course I took was called “The Lyrics of the Beatles” and it was taught by one of our hippy-dippy English teachers. We studied the meaning behind some of the 1970s musings of the Fab Four.
I remember learning about the Beatles song “Revolution”. Turns out it wasn’t really about Revolution at all. The Beatles song was really about something else – peace, love and understanding.
People were all pretty worked up coming out of the 60s and into the 70s. But the Beatles reminded us:
“You say you want a revolution..we’d all love to change the world; You tell me that it’s evolution, We’d all love to change the world. But when you talk about destruction, Don’t you know that you can count me out”
“You say you got a real solution…We’d all love to see the plan….ask me for a contribution..we’re all doing what we can; But if you want money for people with minds that hate…All I can tell you is brother you have to wait”
“You say you’ll change the Constitution, Well, you know, … we all want to change your head; You tell me it’s the institution……You better free your mind instead. But If you go carrying pictures of Chairman Mao, you ain’t going to make it with anyone, anyhow”.
And the refrain was always “Don’t you know it’s going to be… All right, All right, All right”.
The 60s were a time of great social unrest. People were in the streets fighting for freedom and rights – civil rights, voting rights, women’s rights, and against an unpopular war. There was a lot more to march about then than today. At that time, the Beatles, especially George Harrison and John Lennon, were studying Transcendental Meditation. Their call was to “chill out” – “it’s going to be alright”.
The 60s and 70s were defined by a generation seeking freedom – free speech, free love, free enterprise and the right to do as you choose and be left alone. Do what you want as long as you didn’t hurt anyone else. You want to go to Wall Street and make a lot of dough – good luck. You want to become a doctor or lawyer and pursue a profession – study hard. You want to be on the creative side in marketing, advertising, art of music – you might not get rich, but enjoy yourself. You want to build stuff as an architect, engineer, or contractor – be creative, but be careful. You want to teach, be a nurse, help the homeless, be of service to your community – that’s an admirable calling.
Not that freedom was free. President Kennedy called us to “Ask not what the country could do for you, but what you could do for your country”. Freedom came with an obligation.
Today, it seems the opposite is true. People want the government to do everything for them. We have more freedom than ever, but people are not happy. People want all the rights without any of the obligations. People don’t want to think for themselves. In a lot of ways we are lost.
Political activism is good if it is for a cause. But what are we fighting for? We are a free society. We are a country of laws. We have civil rights, women’s rights, gay rights, and transgender rights. There are strong laws against any type of discrimination. And no one is being drafted to fight in an unpopular war. As Americans, we are lucky to not only be the Land of the Free, but the Home of the Brave. We have brave men and women willing to fight in foreign lands to protect our freedoms – from those who do not believe in our freedoms. So why all the fuss?
Cause “if you talk about destruction, you can count me out”. Do your strongly held political views entitle you to throw bricks through a Starbucks window? Cause “if you want money for people with minds that hate, All I can tell you is brother you have to wait”. Does your passion entitle you to shout down your neighbor? Is civility gone?
We all need to chill a little bit…”Don’t you know it’s going to be…All Right”.
The Fab Four got it right. America will survive. America is, was, and always will be the Land of the Free. Our freedoms are unrivaled. We all need to live and love. We need to focus on our family, friends, neighbors and community. These are the important things in life. Everything else will work its way out.
Any way, that’s what I got out of the Beatle’s meaning in Revolution. Take a listen, and relax!
Now I’m working on Don McLean. He also went to Iona Prep. He wrote “American Pie” and “…drove the Chevy to the Levee, but the Levee was Dry”. What the hell does that mean?