A New Interpretation of SMiLE

Zen and Pet Sounds

The Elements

The Koan/The Hallucination

Bio Based SMiLE

The Opposites


Zen and The Beatles' Revolver

East Or West Indies

Cool Links

The Trip









































 Zen and The Beatles'

Brian Wilson's comment "Did you hear the Beatles' album? Religious, right?" is often pointed to as a sure sign of craziness. However, if we give REVOLVER the Zen treatment, Brian's comment makes sense(the touring Beatles cabled EMI from Japan with the album title, REVOLVER, a pun.)

"It might surprise a lot of people to think of the Beatles as religious,
especially after John Lennon's supposedy anti-religious statement which caused so much furor....after the furor died down you could interpret Lennon's quote as just a mild rebuke of organized religion. Their song Eleanor Rigby is a similar criticism. And since the Beatles are writing songs along that line, and since George Harrison is going to India to study music (which is intimately connected with Indian philosophy and religion), and since..."
~Tom Nolan, "The Frenzied Frontier of Pop Music,"
Los Angeles Times WEST magazine
, Nov.1966.

"Eleanor Rigby" is an unfavorable comment on traditional Western religion.

"Love You To" points to the East.

"She Said She Said"- for one to become enlightened, the ego must be dissolved. This is often called the "great death." In the lyrics of this song, "I know what it's like to be dead" and "feel like I've never been born" can be seen as Zen. This along with the lyric "when I was a boy, everything was right" both point toward childhood and a purer undivided perception of reality, closer to the state of mind sought in Zen.

"Good Day Sunshine"- a natural connection to Brian's religious Zen experience.

"I Want To Tell You"- first off, dig the following quote from Brian's fave comedy album, How To Speak Hip;
'"...the Zen Buddhists have these koans, you know, they're riddles that you meditate on. And the whole purpose of the riddles is to hang you up, like, "We know the sound of two hands but what is the sound of one hand?" Now that's had Buddhist monks hung up for years."' ~John Brent as "Geets Romo"
Now consider the following George Harrison lyrics and how they might apply to the John Brent quote; "I want to tell you, I feel hung up and I don't know why. I don't mind, I could wait forever, I've got time."

"Tomorrow Never Knows"- John Lennon originally wanted Tibetan monks to chant on this track. The lyrics, "surrender to the void" and "you may see the meaning of within" are just a few of the Zen-like references here.

"Whenever in doubt, turn off your mind, relax, float downstream."
~Timothy Leary, The Psychedelic Experience, (pg.14.)

All this added up to Brian Wilson's gut feeling that he was on the right track with SMiLE. "That's the whole movement" he said.

"I think the Beatles will get into this, I think they'll pick up on it."
~Brian Wilson on his contribution to "the movement."

Those interested in the Beatles, Zen, and the sixties are advised to seek out the book Revolution In The Head: the Beatles' records and the sixties (1994) by Ian MacDonald.

MacDonald refers to the song "Within You Without You" as "the conscience of Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band: the necessary sermon that comes with the community singing." Note that the titles "Within You Without You" and "Heroes And Villains" consist of opposites. Also note the laughter at the end of "Within You Without You."

"I'm only sleeping"~John Lennon

"Are you sleeping brother John?"~lyric from "Surf's Up"

"Up until LSD, I never realized that there was anything beyond this state of consciousness. The first time I took it, it just blew everything away. I had such an incredible feeling, that there was a God and I could see him in every blade of grass. It was like gaining hundreds of years' experience within twelve hours. It changed me and there was no way back to what I was before. It wasn't all good because it left a lot of questions as well."~George Harrison, 1987.

"Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds"

"I Love To Say Da Da"

"The Beatles' psychedelic music represents a state of mind different from ordinary reality: a magical, all-beautiful, all-loving vision in which opposites are peacefully reconciled."~Ian MacDonald,"The Psychedelic Experience,"
MOJO Special Limited Edition
, Mar.2002:36.

Home | Introduction | A New Interpretation of SMiLE | Zen and Pet Sounds | The Elements | The Koan
Bio Based SMiLE | The Opposites | Ego | Zen and The Beatles' Revolver | East Or West Indies | Cool Links

The Good Humor SMiLE Site!

"The Beatles...now. The Beatles were hot enough not to be over-concerned about anybody else, but they did think the Beach Boys were good...in fact, they'd arrived at that conclusion long before I had."
~Derek Taylor

The Beats "were against soul-numbing materialism('Moneytheism'); for imagination, self-expression, Zen....Seeking self-realism through 'hipness' and paradox, the Beats were the authentic religious voice of the Atomic Age. As such, they were formatively influential on the Sixties counterculture in California..."~Ian MacDonald,Revolution In The Head: The Beatles' Records And The Sixties, (pg.6.)

"Satori. Zen Buddhist word for 'enlightenment', implying release from the bondage of reincarnation. Hippies drew a parallel between LSD and the clarity supposedly experienced during satori."~Revolution In The Head: The Beatles' Records And The Sixties, (pg.150.)

Bill Tobelman

"Out of the LSD madness (and there were few horrors) there came a few 'zaps'. It made me laugh. I'd never thought about, couldn't even say the word 'God'. It embarrassed me, but you know it was so strange, GOD, and it washed away all these fears and doubts and little things that hang you up....Since then it has been a matter of trying to hold on to that little shining light more and more and more until you become that. And it's hard. Sometimes you just want to yell about God because it's right there, but the moment you try and explain it, it's like rabbiting."~George Harrison, I Me Mine, (pgs. 44&45.)