8. “Etcetera” (Paul demo, 1968)
Paul McCartney taped a one-take acoustic demo of this song during the sprawling White Album sessions, the same day he recorded the gentle “Mother Nature’s Son.” He wrote it with the intention to give it to his friend Marianne Faithful to sing, apparently in the style of her hit “As Tears Go By.” A tape engineer who assisted on the recording claims it was a beautiful ballad, but it seems like we’ll never know for certain: Paul took the tape with him that evening, and it hasn’t seen the light of day since. It’s safe to say that McCartney is not a fan of the tune, which he dismissed as “a bad song,” and “dreadful.” And he’s just getting started. “I think it’s a good job that it’s died a death in some tape bin. Even then I seem to remember thinking it wasn’t very good.” We’ll be the judge of that!
7. “Revolution” (Take 20, 1968)
Two songs from the White Album had their genesis in gritty extended jams: John’s “Revolution” and Paul’s “Helter Skelter.” Producer George Martin put a bluesy version of the “Helter Skelter” sessions on 1996’s Anthology 3, but edited the 27-minute version down to an abbreviated 4 and a half. “I think it gets boring,” he admitted frankly when asked why he had done so.
The extended “Revolution” take is much more interesting, however. The first high quality tape started making the rounds in 2009, featuring a nearly 11-minute version of the song. It starts off as the same version heard on the record, but things start to get weird on the fadeout. Strange vocal overdubs and chants can be heard, tape speed is varied seemingly at random, and radio static is brought in. The form of the track unravels even further, with Yoko Ono dubbing in spoken word verse and other studio chatter for a musique concrete effect.
In the days following the sessions, John decided to divide the 11-minute epic in half, labeling the more conventional first 4 minutes as “Revolution 1,” and using the remaining portion for the frightening avant garde sound collage known as “Revolution 9.” We could never figure out how these two vastly diverse works fit together, but thanks to the infamous Take 20, now we can!