“Daytripper“ (A-side released 12/3/1965)–One of the most instantly-identifiable riffs in rock kicks off this call-out of those “half-a-hippies” who want all of the pleasure but none of the danger that comes with counterculture involvement. Is it unbelievable on any level that the promise of the sixties was never realized? If we each look at our individual selves as microcosms of the larger world, how can we expect justice and peace as the rule?
“We Can Work It Out” (A-side released 12/3/1965)–What a pair! There are few finer ways to spend five minutes. A top tier Mario galaxy…some choice Flannery O’Connor pages…standing out on the dock, gazing at a sky’s five o’clock shadow, watching cardinals flitter branch to branch.
Harmonium warm as cornbread sopping up the succulent honey barbecue sauce as it streams slowly from the fat pile of ribs. This is a true collaboration, with Paul and John putting their personalities into their parts: Paul sweetly imploring and hopeful, John tapping his wristwatch and foot in frantic annoyance.
I’ve always associated “We Can Work It Out” with ferry rides, without ever having actually been on a ferry. Something about the flow of the verses brings to my mind a vessel moving slowly and surely across the water. Could possibly be related to the classic symbolism of water as life.
“Paperback Writer” (A-side released 6/10/1966)–So how come there exists a replica of the poster that inspired “Being For the Benefit of Mr. Kite” available for purchase on Amazon (among other online vendors) but I can’t pick me up a laminated reproduction of the Daily Mail article that drove Paul to pen this propulsive piece? “The aspiring author is a unique being,” it no doubt began. “Feeble-bodied yet able-minded, bright-eyed but somehow world-weary, a cynic who will begin purring love sonnets if scratched just so behind the ears–what would life be without the earnest pensmith?”
John referred to “Paperback Writer” as the “son of ‘Daytripper‘,” but really, this is the better song. “Daytripper,” great as it is, still sounds like it’s taped up in a cardboard box. “Paperback Writer” teems with the power of teamwork, taking huge gulps of air, lungs working like a bellows, it just needs a break! Just the one.
Even if the ink-stained protagonist is but a mere hack, he’s still a writer, and it’s pseudo-scientific half-fact that we the scribblers are superior to 98% of the rest of the galaxy just because we traffic in the multi-colored magic of letters to words to sentences to paragraphs. The heartbeat of a writers life is sensational, loosening the kickstand and riding roughshod over seemingly-barren land ahead. No EKG can measure it, but “Paperback Writer” powers along purely on the sound of its echos. “Why do you want to be a writer?” I’ve been asked. Same reason I breathe, actually. Kinda got to.
“Rain” (B-side released 6/10/1966)–Released two months before Revolver, “Rain” is a definite precursor to the new shades of sound that album would unveil for a not-so-hip-as-they-thought public. The rhythm section is traditionally the epicenter of a song, but not here. Paul and Ringo run this town. Detachment as an expedient to self-discovery. Imagine blowing bubbles whilst inside a plastic bubble.
“When it rains, and shines, it’s just a state of mind.” Cool, but people’re still gonna bitch about the weather.
“Lady Madonna” (A-side released 3/15/1968)—Macca’s tribute to the world’s mamas–“How do they do it? Bless ’em”–from the ones who would rather see their child’s skin tanned by the sun rather than a screen to the ones who let their brats get fat off Dominos.
Mom-love is the best, ’cause um moms are the best, but just the very title of this song reminds me of the line, thin as a junebug’s legs, that mothers have to toe every day. Especially their sons. I can’t imagine many women want their boys to grow up viewing other females in black and white terms, as either delicate creatures to be protected or unscrupulous, devious whores to be used like a wet wipe. Anybody that knows me, knows I am a fierce advocate of the middle. It’s where the cream is, after all.
“The Inner Light” (B-side released 3/15/1968)–Esoteric text yet again lights a fire under George Harrison’s righteous ass (Tao Te Ching)–“See all without looking, do all without doing.” Okay, so how do I conjure up a nice plate of lamb biryani without actually looking up the phone number of the Indian place downtown? All things are possible, except when they’re not. “The farther one travels/The less one knows.” This is true. Disney lied to us, kids; it ain’t a small world, after all.
“Hey Jude” (A-side released 8/30/1968)–Paul apparently wrote this song as a comfort to young Julian Lennon, whose parents were in the midst of an acrimonious divorce. The lessons of patience, grace, and repetition as the secret of happiness are heard in every line. Julian’s dad, however, heard a message to himself, one that Paul couldn’t bring himself to say in a voice without melody. “You have found her/Now go and get her” struck John’s ears as a tacit admission of approval re: himself and Yoko Ono, and it makes sense. It’s an odd line to say to a young boy struggling through the shitstorm of emotions stirred up by a broken home, anyway.
More of those superbly imperfect J and P harmonies yet again. Funny how two wildly divergent personalities prone to violent clashes can end up stronger for it all and others, well…
The four-minute “na na” chorus is the perfect way to determine who is a Beatles fan and who isn’t.
For the truly obsessed: check out 2:57 to 2:59 in headphones if you have not already. An entire blog post could be made here–and has been made elsewhere–about the apparent “undeleted expletive” heard here.
“Revolution” (B-side released 8/30/1968)–Heard this before on an album, have you? No you haven’t. See, this is the good version, with guit-fiddles distorted as a Tea Partiers worldview, and featuring the best pre-verse scream not from the throat of Tom Araya. John’s delivery is much stronger, and his ending refrain, those defiant “All right!”s, is acerbic enough to twist your face.
“Revolution” is relevant still in a world gone madder by minute from an abundance of information without an accompanying increase in discrimination, with the end result being that the minutiae of matters is either completely ignored or unjustly aggrandized.
“Get Back” (A-side released 4/11/1969)–A chronic tape echo effect, false start, and pleas to some wayward chick named Loretta set this version apart from the album track.
“Don’t Let Me Down” (B-side released 4/11/1969)–John’s impassioned declaration of love. This is almost too exposed to air to withstand–if you’re a weak pussy.
“The Ballad of John and Yoko” (A-side released 5/30/1969)--Listening to celebrities detail their travails is almost as satisfying as hearing them bitch about having to pay exorbitant taxes. Or having an electrode placed on a vaginal wall getting shocked till burns appear. Despite the repeated evocations to God’s lad throughout, the track is quite non-acerbic and tedious. I’m not even a Christian, but I find saying you are/you will be “crucified” is a poor choice of words, intended to strike up controversy and cover up mediocrity.
“Old Brown Shoe” (B-side released 5/30/1969)–Just the title makes me think of “Little Brown Jug,” which makes me think of how much Homer Simpson loves a hoedown and I didn’t say stop.
A grower that busts through the roof before you even know what’s what, I’d call this one of the Beatles’ most overlooked tracks. “I want a short-haired girl who sometimes wears it long” makes far more sense (and is far more alluring a lyric) than anything from “Within You Without You.”
There exists some controversy over the bass track, which is to “Old Brown Shoe” as heat is to popcorn kernels. Beatles historian Mark Lewisohn credits “a fine combination of matching lead and bass guitar notes played by George and Paul.” However, George told Creem in 1987 that he and he alone was responsible for the bottom end. Pretty convo-ending, hmm? Yes…except I could also point to an interview where George seems to forget he played bass on “Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight,” crediting Paul with it instead.
Don’t trust artists, y’all. It’s all sex lies and muddy memories.
“Across the Universe” (No One’s Gonna Change Our World)–Picked by Spike Milligan to appear on a charity album for World Wildlife Fund. Bird chirps bookend the track (did “Blackbird” teach us nothing?) and the song itself is inexplicably sped up. Not comically so, but noticeable. And terrible.
“Let It Be” (A-side released 3/6/1970)–The orchestra drank some decaf, George demanded a do-over, and Linda McCartney had something to say. Other than that.
“You Know My Name (Look Up the Number)” (B-side released 3/6/1970)–A pastiche recorded over three sessions in 1967 and one topper turn in 1969.
Patrick hates this one more than any other Beatles original. What strikes many as endearing–the shameless style-jumping and self-conscious goofiness–is what makes him twitch, itch and pitch a bitch. “Do you hate fun?” is all I can say in response.
Paul has referred to this as his favorite Beatles song, although that may have as much or more to do with the joyous frivolity of the recording sessions as the actual finished product.
If the nightclub and lounge sections bug you it’s not so hard to grasp why, but if you can’t enjoy the first part, I cram to understand you. The piano! The yelling! More Pinkus, please, and leave it in the bottle this time! It’s music to rattle the glasses on a table to.
The 2009 mono box set featured “Mono Masters,” which matched Past Masters Volume One perfectly but omitted those tracks from Volume Two that never had a mono mix. So goodbye to “The Ballad of John and Yoko,” “Old Brown Shoe,” and “Let It Be.” Hello four previously unreleased mono mixes of four Yellow Submarine songs.
“Only a Northern Song”–See, ’cause Northern Songs Ltd. was the publishing company that handled all the Beatles songs. While Macca and John each had 30% shares in the company, George had a paltry 1.6%. Thus, “It really doesn’t matter what chords I play/What words I say/It’s only a Northern song.” Nice to see ol‘ GH with a sense of humor.
The end is like someone took the walrus and fed it burritos till it exploded.
“All Together Now”–Paul is for the children. The children who still don’t know the alphabet. Everybody join in! Oh no, won’t be doing that.
“Hey Bulldog”–I feel the earth! Move! Under my feet! “Hey Bulldog” is one of those classics that virtually every rock band has run through once in rehearsal or rewrote subconsciously. A jackknife in a sweaty palm, slitting open bags for booty.
“It’s All Too Much”–I got a Catholic block! No? Just me? Listen to that guitar up front, that is dead on! Aw man. Li’l feedback parade happening, too.
Thankfully, I as a listener never feel compelled to say at any point, “Well, the song tried to warn me.” Considering that this is a six and a half minute George song, that is an amazing feat. “All the world is birthday cake/Take a piece but not too much.”
Sifting through the debris of a wrecked cruise ship, where are all the bodies? Small issue, that. Accoutrements ahoy, matey, collect as much as you can.
And on that note of crass thievery, I bid this review series farewell. Thank you for reading. No band in rock history has had more words dedicated to them than the Beatles, and I hope you found mine entertaining, enjoyable, and maybe even educational. For me at least, it was certainly a thrill.