Wednesday, June 2, 2010

More on "Rubber Soul"

While doing some reading for this post about Rubber Soul, I came across a pretty remarkable fact: at the time of Rubber Soul's release, "You Won't See Me" - all of three minutes and twenty-two seconds in length - was the longest song that The Beatles had recorded as a band. Thus, on their first six albums,* no one track exceeded that running time - a mere 3:22. I found this worthy of comment because it underlines one of the most admirable qualities of The Beatles' music: its efficiency. That is, The Beatles were unparalleled in how well they maximized two to three minutes of song time. They could advance from intro to climax to end without rushing matters along; they applied emphasis where it was needed and held back where it wasn't; and they rarely wasted moments, spawning music that hit its spots and didn't overstay its welcome. It was a very compact, workmanlike kind of art.

* - In fact, no song on Revolver was longer than "You Won't See Me." Even "Tomorrow Never Knows," a flourish of experimental psychedelia, clocks in at a methodical 2:57.

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