"Yellow Submarine" Like You've Never Heard it Before: Hear John Lennon's Somber, Newly Unearthed Demo of the Classic Track

John Lennon holds an acoustic guitar while filming The Beatles' 'Hard Day's Night' movie at the Scala Theatre
(Image credit: Max Scheler – K & K/Redferns/Getty Images)

On October 28, a new, expanded reissue of The Beatles' Revolver – a hugely significant album that altered both the band's musical trajectory and that of pop music as a whole – will be released. 

Featuring a full remix by Giles Martin (son of George Martin, the original album's producer), the Revolver reissue also features a number of newly-unearthed demos and alternate takes of now-legendary songs.

Among these is a fascinating, newly-released demo of the song that would become "Yellow Submarine."

Recorded by John Lennon, and featuring him on acoustic guitar and vocals, this early version of "Yellow Submarine" is a much more somber affair than the Ringo Starr-fronted recording that would go on to appear on Revolver.

Despite the demo's morose lyrics ("In the place, where I was born/No-one cared, no-one cared"), parts of the song's endearing verse melody and the sea-shanty influence that would help make it one of the band's great sing-along classics are already present. 

Guitar Player recently spoke to Giles Martin about the process of both re-mixing (and de-mixing) Revolver for the reissue, and what he discovered about the album in the process.

"You can hear them like kids in the back of a car saying, 'We’re bored! We want to do something different,'" Martin said. "That’s what’s going on with Revolver. It’s like a prog record – kind of like, 'Look how many ideas we have!'

"And what I find fascinating is that they went from being this four-headed monster with Beatles suits on to being these four individuals going in different directions – but helping each other.

"Like, no one’s saying, 'Come on, John, change chords on ‘Tomorrow Never Knows.’ Or, you know, 'Why are we doing Indian songs? We’re from Liverpool!' It’s like that pure confidence of jumping out of the plane without a parachute and knowing you’re going to land safely.

"It is kind of a fearless record."

Jackson Maxwell
Associate Editor, GuitarWorld.com and GuitarPlayer.com

Jackson is an Associate Editor at GuitarWorld.com and GuitarPlayer.com. He’s been writing and editing stories about new gear, technique and guitar-driven music both old and new since 2014, and has also written extensively on the same topics for Guitar Player. Elsewhere, his album reviews and essays have appeared in Louder and Unrecorded. Though open to music of all kinds, his greatest love has always been indie, and everything that falls under its massive umbrella. To that end, you can find him on Twitter crowing about whatever great new guitar band you need to drop everything to hear right now.