15. The bird sounds on “Tomorrow Never Knows” came from Paul McCartney’s sonic laboratory.
The song’s working title at the first Revolver session was “Mark I.” Beatles lore posits that one title on hand was “The Void.” Geoff Emerick recalls Lennon’s infatuation with finding the proper vocal sound prompting him to brainstorm some singular recording approaches.
“He suggested we suspend him from a rope in the middle of the studio ceiling, put a mike in the middle of the floor, give him a push and he’s sing as he went around and around.”
McCartney remembers another songwriting session in Many Years: “John got his guitar out and started doing ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’ and it was all one chord. This was because of our interest in Indian music. We would be sitting around and at the end of an Indian album we’d go, ‘Did anyone realize they didn’t change chords?’ It would be like ‘Shit, it was all in E, that is pretty far out.'”
We think of the song now as so purely Lennonesque, but this was a team effort. Harrison came up with the distinctive opening chord, whereas McCartney was King of the Loops.
Those manic, straight-from-hell birds you hear on “Tomorrow Never Knows” are the product of McCartney cutting up pieces of tape he’d made that featured distorted guitars and bass, and wine glasses ringing, and then working in the studio on five tape machines and pulling the faders.
In the control room, George Martin and Geoff Emerick would yell out, “Let’s have that seagull sound now!” as soundscapes never heard in the history of the human eardrum were unloosed upon the world.
It doesn’t get much more Revolver-y than that.
Source : rollingstone.com