Our Proper Business Now Is Revolution: John Cage and the Beatles

D. J. Hoek*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Though the Beatles drew inspiration from avant-garde composer John Cage in songs like “A Day in the Life,” Cage himself had little interest in popular music. In one isolated statement, though, Cage expressed uncharacteristic admiration for the Beatles. This article explores what, for Cage, made the Beatles important by considering his statement within the context of a cross-influential network of musicians and thinkers that included Cage, the Beatles, philosopher Marshall McLuhan, and artist Yoko Ono. This study reveals an overlooked line of reasoning in Cage’s mind while also lending to a fuller understanding of the Beatles’ effect beyond popular culture.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)14-25
Number of pages12
JournalPopular Music and Society
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2021


  • Avant-garde
  • Beatles
  • Cage
  • McLuhan
  • Ono
  • influence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Music


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