Sunday, December 14, 2008

Tomorrow Never Knows: the first "Trip Hop" song

Trip Hop, according to, is defined as:
  1. A genre of slow dance music combining elements of hip hop with melodic, often psychedelic, sounds and impressionistic lyrics
Etymology: A portmanteau of trip (in the sense "drug-induced hallucinations", alluding to psychedelic music) and hip hop.

Webster's online dictionary says:
probably blend of 2trip (high from a psychedelic drug) + hip-hop
: electronic dance music usually based on a slow hip-hop beat and incorporating hypnotic synthesized and prerecorded sounds

According to the wikipedia article on it, "Trip Hop" has its origins in England's Hop Hop and House music scenes of the early to mid 1990's.

In 1966, The Beatles recorded "Tomorrow Never Knows," which founds its way onto Revolver. Famously, it was the first pop rock record to use "tape loops." Paul McCartney picked up this trick in London's avante garde scene and shared it with his fellow Beatles.

In describing the yet-unreleased Revolver album, Paul credits himself with making the strange tape loops that would be used on the recording 'Tomorrow Never Knows.' This is confirmed by Beatles studio engineer Geoff Emerick - who, in writings and interviews, agrees that these tape loops were made at home by Paul, who then excitedly brought them into the studio for everyone to hear during the very early stages of the album project.

Of course, John Lennon did entire albums of tape loops and electronic sounds in the late 60's after falling in with Yoko. But the origin of their use in the group -- and popular music more broadly -- is Paul McCarntey.

The lyrics are almost the definition of psychedelic. Accounts vary, but John Lennon came up with the words to the song either influenced by the Tibetan Book of the Dead or Timothy Leary's The Psychedelic Experience.

The psychedelic lyrics, the low, rumbling bass, the heavy drums, the tape looped-sounds; all hallmarks of what is now called "Trip Hop". Once again, the Beatles were decades ahead of their time.

1 comment:

Amos Anon said...

I’m glad you’re interested in The Tibetan Book of the Dead. Here’s a link to a Guide that covers this book and other books of the Oxford Tibetan Series.
If you find this useful, please mention it on your blog.