Hear John Lennon sing Yellow Submarine as a melancholy acoustic ballad in this unearthed Revolver outtake

John Lennon
(Image credit: Harry Benson/Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Ahead of the arrival of the Special Edition reissue of The Beatles’ 1966 studio LP Revolver, a never-before-heard demo of Yellow Submarine – one that sees John Lennon perform it as a solo acoustic guitar ballad – has been released.

It’s certainly Yellow Submarine like you’ve never heard before, swapping out Ringo Starr’s vocals and the peppy, upbeat sing-along vibe for a far more reflective, melancholic direction.

Titled Yellow Submarine – Songwriting Work Tape / Part 1, the track sees Lennon see-saw his way through some down-tempo chords, which play host to both his vocals and a set of lyrics that never made it onto the final cut.

Given the track was penned as a children’s song, it’s no surprise the lyrics that can be heard on Lennon’s demo were ditched in favor of the more kid-friendly version that underpins Yellow Submarine as we know it today.

“In the place where I was born, no-one cared, no-one cared. And the name I was born, no-one cared, no-one cared,” Lennon can be heard singing. It’s a far cry from the easygoing lyrics of the original song, which opens with, “In the town where I was born, lived a man who sailed to sea. And he told us of his life, in the land of submarines.”

Lennon’s Yellow Submarine demo was reworked by Giles Martin – son of the band’s original producer, George – who utilized the “de-mixing” technology that was developed by Peter Jackson’s audio team for the recent Get Back Disney+ documentary.

“The whole album is them saying, ‘Hey, let’s make it all completely different,’” Martin told Rolling Stone (opens in new tab). “This was the nitroglycerin that blew everything up.”

Martin also went on to reflect how influential Lennon was in the making of Yellow Submarine. Though Paul McCartney wrote the famous chorus hook and Starr took vocal duties for the official version, Lennon played an equally important part in shaping the track.

“I had no idea until I started going through the outtakes,” Martin continued. “This was a Lennon-McCartney thing. I said to Paul, ‘I always thought this was a song that you wrote and gave to Ringo and that John was like, ‘Oh, bloody Yellow Submarine.’ Not at all.”

Joining the radical rendition of Yellow Submarine is an energetic, fuzz-tinged outtake of Got To Get You Into My Life, which goes heavy on the chime-y, crystalline electric guitars.

Both tracks hint at the many surprises the upcoming Revolver reissue promises to have in store for listeners. In total, the Super Deluxe version of the record features 31 outtakes from the vaults, including three home demos, all of which aim to highlight the experimental nature of the legendary Revolver sessions.

Martin mixed the Special Edition Revolver with the help of engineer Sam Okell, with all 14 tracks of the original album arriving in stereo and Dolby Atmos, as well as a mono mix sourced from the original mono master tape.

The Super Edition Revolver reissue will be released next Friday (October 28) in Standard, Deluxe and Super Deluxe formats, and is available to preorder now (opens in new tab).

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Matt is a Staff Writer, writing for Guitar World, Guitarist and Total Guitar. He has a Masters in the guitar, a degree in history, and has spent the last 16 years playing everything from blues and jazz to indie and pop. When he’s not combining his passion for writing and music during his day job, Matt records for a number of UK-based bands and songwriters as a session musician.