Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Beatles marginalia

Because I haven't had much to write about of late, I decided to deposit a bunch of random musings inspired by Beatles songs into a post. The results are below.

- Contra Tom Petty, I'm not too keen on George's solo from "I Saw Her Standing There," and I don't quite understand the reverence many have for it. Maybe it's because I'm not a guitarist myself. All I hear is something ramshackle and tuneless. George was young at the time; I won't hold his amateur performance against him.

- "Misery" is best enjoyed as a parody of weepy laments.

- On certain days, "Baby It's You" is my favorite cover by The Beatles, besting even the immortal "Twist and Shout." It's no coincidence that both owe their greatness to John's voice; it was one of the band's most versatile weapons.

- The fleet, feather-light quality of "There's a Place" is one of several reasons why it's an early-period classic. The song almost seems to hover.

- "From Me to You" > "I Want to Hold Your Hand"

- "It Won't Be Long" boasts arguably the best, most thrilling opening section of any song by The Beatles. It just explodes out of the gate.

- "All I've Got to Do" is a masterpiece of moody tension.

- I admire Paul for how unapologetic he has been and still is about his schmaltzy balladeer tendencies. Does he not sound sublimely at home on "Till There Was You"?

- I dig the gusto John brings to the line, "Deliver the letter/The sooner the better" on "Please Mister Postman."

- Paul's vocal on "She's a Woman" is one of his finest.

- “If I Fell” is the most Beach Boys-esque song in The Beatles’ catalog. It’s easy to imagine Brian, Carl, and Mike delivering those harmonies.

- "And I Love Her" probably fits into that category as well. I can hear Brian doing Paul's vocal.

- "What You're Doing" is a darkhorse candidate for best song on Beatles for Sale. The honor likely goes to "No Reply," but the gap isn't huge.

- There are plenty of Beatles songs that I'm not wild about, but there are few that genuinely irritate me. One of those few is "I Need You." The arrhythmic, herky-jerky guitar effect that George creates with his volume pedal just grates on my ears.

- In hindsight, the powerfully emotive one-two punch of "I've Just Seen a Face" and "Yesterday" can be seen as a sign that Paul was nearing peak form. He truly arrived on Revolver.

- The idea that John burned down his would-be lover's house at the end of "Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)" represents my favorite narrative detail in any Beatles song.

- "Nowhere Man" is possibly the band's most overrated song.

- "Michelle" goes down like a mojito on a warm summer afternoon.

- From "Eleanor Rigby," the line "No one was saved" is like the "Jesus wept" of Beatles lyrics.

- "Here, There and Everywhere" is the successor to "I've Just Seen a Face," while "For No One" is the successor to "Yesterday."

- Look to "She's Leaving Home" for some of the soundest evidence that The Beatles weren't in lockstep with the counterculture. You can detect sympathy for both the young, disillusioned runaway and her devastated parents. It makes the narrative all the more engaging.

- One of my favorite Beatles lyrics: "Living is easy with eyes closed." It can be interpreted in a variety of interesting ways.

- The image of a guitar weeping is perfect.

- No, "Blackbird" is The Beatles' most overrated song.

- "Christ you know it ain't easy."

- Remarkably, this can be said with a straight face: The man who gave us "Maxwell's Silver Hammer" may be the greatest songwriter in pop music history.

- The most egregious error committed by Phil Spector when he put together Let It Be was omitting "Don't Let Me Down."

- "Two of us wearing raincoats/ Standing so low/ In the sun."

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