New “Revolver” Outtake Features John Lennon Singing “Yellow Submarine”

It's a melancholy take on the song

"Yellow Submarine"
A very different take on a familiar song.
The Beatles/VEVO

This fall brings with it a deluxe reissue of The Beatles’ Revolver, and the lead-up to its release has seen some deep cuts and previously unseen material surface — including a new video for the song “Taxman.” But that’s far from the only Beatles rarity to show up to offer a sense of what this new edition of Revolver has in store.

This time out, it’s a very different take on “Yellow Submarine.” Specifically, it’s an abbreviated version of the song in which John Lennon handles lead vocals, and sings the whole thing in a deeply melancholy mode. As someone who’s spent a not insignificant part of their life listening to what Pitchfork dubbed, in a review of Sebadoh’s Bakesale, “shameless acoustic mopery,” I am personally very fond of sad songs played on an acoustic guitar — and boy, does this version of “Yellow Submarine” deliver on that front.

Which, again, is surreal in and of itself. This is, after all, “Yellow Submarine”! Possibly the most effervescent of all Beatles songs, one inexorably associated with animated visuals and bright colors. Soccer fans have embraced it as song to sing during matches, even. Here, instead, you’ll find stark emotion and a condensed shot of melancholy.

Which is almost certainly the point. At a time when deluxe reissues of beloved albums have gotten, well, even more deluxe, it’s nice to see something from the archives that actually changes up one’s understanding of a beloved song. This isn’t just a live version or an alternate mix; this offers a sense of a road not taken, and demonstrates another side of a beloved song. And “Yellow Submarine,” no less. Who’d have thought?

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