About a year ago I watched the film Across the Universe, which is a musical remake using many of the old Beatles songs. When the song “Revolution” came on I understood what the Beatles really stood for. Up till then, I had heard many of the Beatles songs, but was honestly too naive about most of their lyrics. In the film Across the Universe, the main character, Jude, is singing “Revolution” to his girlfriend who is working for a revolutionary student organization, presumably a radical-leaning chapter of SDS. They argue throughout the film about violence and revolution, and the ambiguous conclusion from Jude is “All you need is love.”

What you probably didn’t know about the song “Revolution” is that John Lennon wrote two versions while the Beatles were visiting a transcendental meditation camp in India. The version in the film Across the Universe is the fast version and was released originally as a single. The slow version appears on The White Album, and in this version Lennon changed the meaning of the song.

Fast version:

But when you talk about destruction
Don’t you know you can count me out

Slow version:

But when you talk about destruction
Don’t you know you can count me in

The reason why so many people know the “count me out” version is due to Paul McCartney’s influence. Paul did not like the song that much and had John change the lyrics to his liking. In the Across the Universe, Jude is preoccupied with non-violence and hypocrisy, much like the debates that probably took place between John and Paul. Non-violence has violent consequences, and at least the filmmakers hint at this by having Jude punch one of the militants he is criticizing for, in fact, their own militancy.