Richard Furnstein: It's a lovely night for a gentle stroll through the London streets completely wacked out on a few segments of purple flash. This is "the situation," as George Harrison warns us in his stern tone. The situation, to be frank, is completely bonkers. The madding crowd, orchestral bombast, a goose swallowing geese (backwards), and car crash hysterics greet us on our walk. We're terrified to look down the alleyways. It sounds like money burning down there, or maybe a baby is blubbering. Is that Star Wars happening, like 8 years before Star Wars happened?
Robert Bunter: I love this controversial and disturbing track. What's the matter, can't you handle it? Here's why I think it's important: it's the ultimate logical extension of Lennon's gradual evolution towards unmediated expression of the terrifying, nightmarish hideousness that boiled constantly in the depths of his tortured psyche. It started out with the throat-tearing anger he brought to the rockers on the early albums. Then we got In His Own Write... hmmm, kind of dark. Wait, what's this? "Tomorrow Never Knows"! Take it easy, John! Little kids are hearing this stuff, they're going to be really frightened. "Strawberry Fields Forever": the melody is beautiful, but the cellos and mellotrons are giving me nightmares. Plus, did you see that video where they throw paint all over the weird piano under a tree and it's nighttime and the film is all solarized and we're looking at a closeup of his creepy dead carp eye under the granny glasses? Then there's the orchestra frenzy on "A Day In The Life," and I'm not even gonna talk about "I Am The Walrus," and now we arrive at "Revolution 9."
Richard Furnstein: It's the most controversial Beatles track because "it doesn't really do anything." On the contrary, it does EVERYTHING. It makes every other Beatles track seem slight in comparison. You try sitting in a dark room with "Lady Madonna" on headphones: you'll just groove and feel great about the world. Take on "Revolution 9" in those conditions and you are sure to be terrified, excited, and left feeling empty. John repeatedly warbles "right" (as in "alright"), but it is hardly reassuring. This is the closest that John could come to packaging LSD in with the White Album's lyric poster and individual photographs: instant audio drugs.
Robert Bunter: The English language, melody, harmony, rhythm and even sane human logic have all been maniacally tossed out the window like the schoolmaster's blackboard that a young Lennon tossed out the window at Quarry Hill Grammar School in Woolton on October 3, 1956. We are left to confront the pure, unalloyed terror that was half of this man's soul (the other half is a peaceful, gently smiling baby boy letting his dreams fly lazily across the universe on puffy clouds of contentment).
Richard Furnstein: Dance steps are recited to the listener, almost mocking you to try to respond to this as pop music. "Do 'The Twist,' fools. Good luck, we've rearranged your minds while you weren't looking. Block that kick, shithead. Just try to block it.
Too late, it just flattened your pitiful skull.