Revolution: the First Political Song by the Beatles


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The Beatles band was formed by John Lennon in 1960. John Lennon and Paul Mccartney composed a song called “Revolution” during the time of the Vietnam War. The song was intended to raise awareness of what was happening in the world during that time. In order to obtain peace it is necessary to work together in a contribution. “Revolution” used rhetorical strategies such as ethical, logical and emotional appeal to capture the attention of those around the world in order to promote a change for peace and unity.

The Beatles wrote Revolution during the Vietnam War. This was the first political song by The Beatles, the song indicates that peacefully protesting is a more appropriate approach in order to achieve change. It also suggests how people need to work together in order to stop the violence and avoid political issues. During the Vietnam War, protests began to rise due to the fact that violence was being used in war, once protesters began violently protesting, The Beatles composed “Revolution” to protest against violent protesting. While protesters began to get violent and the song suggests they were being hypocritical due to the fact that they were beginning to earn the same traits as the government, they began to be destructive. “We all want to change the world,” gives an ideal that even though everyone wanted the world to change for the better there were certain people that were using the same tactical technique as the government, and it is impossible to gain peace through being destructive, the song states that “you say you got a real solution/well, you know/ we’d all love to see the plan” which implies that even though most people weren’t rioting and being destructive that they would still love to help and if there was any other way they would help to “change the world.” A “revolution” driven by hatred and hypocrisy does not improve the world as then the only fight is between two destructive groups, which only makes the world worse. Although the song is mainly anti-war and in disapproval of the Vietnam War, the main reasoning behind the song is how to go about expressing opinions and protesting.

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The Beatles incorporate ethical appeal through using the fact that they are all typical people during that time and they understood the situation,” But if you go carrying pictures of Chairman Mao/ You ain’t going to make it with anyone anyhow,” illustrates how much they truly understood the political side of the Vietnam War during that time. Throughout the song, it is advised the protesters conduct protests through peace, rather than violence. They show they truly understand the situation through using the terms “we” and “brother” which creates a more inclusive environment and shows that they understand that protesting is necessary but simply suggesting the destructive approach was not. By using the term “we” it gives the audience a sense of trust through the fact that they are including themselves in the situation and they also have the same goal of a better government.

During the video they were dressed in more professional casual clothing which is another form of ethical appeal, their appearance. Due to the fact that they dressed better than most bands they gained more support from their listeners since they seemed to know what they were speaking about which provided evidence that they were more than just a rock band. They achieved a more appropriate reputation through wearing attire that was more professional such as button down shirts, turtle necks, tuxes, ties, and dress shoes which ensured the audience could trust them. By avoiding the stereotypical rock band look they earned the satisfactory reactions from their audience, it showed that they were more professional and meant the words they sung.

John Lennon wrote “Revolution,” to illustrate how people reacted to war, and in an attempt to persuade the protestors and anti-war activists with advice of a more peaceful protest. The Beatles mentioned in their lyrics that the only way to come to an understanding is to approach the matter with peace and unity, they did not agree with the violent protests, which is a logical appeal. When they mention in their song, “For people with minds that hate/ All I can tell is brother you have to wait,” they try to show there is no logic in attempting to negotiate with the government because they wouldn’t listen to them. If protesters would have continued to be destructive, the government would have taken the same action and would’ve ended the punishments. This also shows how the government was at the time and how they only went with what they thought was right rather than taking citizens opinions or votes, which in a way was like communism which is another point made in “revolution” the country was beginning to adopt communist ways and didn’t consider the voices of their citizens. While the song incorporates a lot of logical appeals one other line is, “But when you talk about destruction/ Don’t you know that you can count me out.” This phrase shows that even though many people wanted to help, destruction was not how they wanted to do it, they were fighting violence with more violence which only results in hypocrisy. The logical meaning behind the phrase is that a violent approach to the government would only result in bad results and in order to capture the attention of the government, and although people were trying to help, they didn’t want to riot.

The Beatles use their lyrics in a specific way to appeal to the audience’s emotions through diction and reputation. They use reassurance through the use of the line “Don’t you know it’s gonna be alright” which gives the audience a sense of hope and peace. Through the word “brother” The Beatles are including themselves within their audience, the term “brother” is typically used within a family and to use the term in the song gives the audience a sense of trust and equality when it comes to the situation which is an emotional appeal since “brother” is someone you can trust and look up to in families. The Beatles intended to effectively persuade their audience to be a part of protests but to do so peacefully through their music. They also include lyrics related to the government, “but when you want money for people with minds that hate/ All I can tell is brother you have to wait” which is an influential line due to the idea that action is needed and in order to do so, the audiences tax dollars should not be used to condone an unnecessary war that none supported to begin with. The lyrics provide inclusive phrases such as “we” and “brother” which shows the togetherness and encouragement of supporters to stand in unity in order to achieve the “revolution.” The Beatles were able to create a strong emotional response since this was their first political song, the audience took the message of anti-war and anti-violence in order to achieve peace and began the message of “peace not war.” They began an anti-war movement in spite of how passionate The Beatles were on the situation, and it persuaded the listeners to make a change.

During the Vietnam War emotions of citizens were all over the place since there were family members in war and there was a chance they would never get back. During the song it states that “everythings gonna be alright” which is an emotional appeal since it keeps the listeners calm and at peace and helps them with reassurance that they will see their family members again. The phrase, “You say you’ll change the constitution… We all want to change your head,” is another use of emotional appeal, the lyrics show that protesters were wanting to change the way the government is run but yet others wanted to change the mind of the protesters as they were going about everything violently, the way anti-war activists needed to change their mindset before they can change anything about the government. The war created a hostile environment due to the fact that families and friends were put on the line and this made citizens angry at the government which started protests and riots, which is why they said “we all want your head to change,” they wanted peace and justice and in order to obtain either they would have to use peaceful protesting in order to capture the government’s attention.

In conclusion, the song, “Revolution,” was a protest song which used different types of rhetorical strategies to capture the attention of young protesters. It was written in order to help those understand that they are not alone and that unity is very important in order to make a change in the world, the Vietnam War caused a lot of chaos and the song was written to ensure comfort during the war. It also shows that The Beatles had the same understanding as civilians on the Vietnam War, they also knew the only way to capture audiences attention was to show that they can relate and that they understand their pain. They gave help and advice through their music and tried to make the world a better place by inspiring those listening to form in unity and peace.  

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