Next on the endless assembly line of Beatles archival and auxiliary releases is a deluxe reissue of 1966’s masterful, game-changing Revolver. One of the selling points of the box set is a treasure trove of demos, including one for “Yellow Submarine” that was released today as an early teaser.
As heard on the album, “Yellow Submarine” is a goofy novelty sung by Ringo Starr as if he were a wistful cartoon character. A rough sketch of the song as conceived by John Lennon shows “Yellow Submarine” was a lot more sad and serious at first. Over nothing but his own acoustic guitar, Lennon sings, “In the place where I was born/ No one cared, no one cared.” He basically just vamps on that same idea for about a minute, but by the time it’s over, your whole conception of the song will be altered.
Speaking to USA Today, Starr explained that his bandmates would usually earmark certain quirky tracks as “Ringo songs”:
The boys used to write a song for me and they’d present whatever they thought would be good for me. They had this song and they decided to liven it up. I think Paul thought of [a yellow submarine]. It could have been in a green submarine, but a yellow submarine is much better. Or a deep purple submarine, that would have been like, “What are they talking about now?” But, yeah, it was a Ringo song, like “With A Little Help From My Friends” was a Ringo song.
Producer Giles Martin, son of Beatles producer George Martin, oversaw this reissue along with Sam Okell. Martin said this demo took him by surprise when he discovered it:
I had no idea it existed. It was a complete discovery and I was surprised. One of the thrills I get when doing this is for people to experience the same thing I experience. Going through the cobwebs and finding the gold – that’s what I want to transfer to other people.
The Revolver deluxe box set is out 10/28.