Ringo Starr grew up Ritchie Starkey — without a father and in the slums. He nearly died from an infection at 6 — remaining in a hospital for a full year. He then contracted tuberculosis, which gave him an extended stay in a sanitarium and no chance at all of regaining his footing in school. The dismal future that awaited him was thwarted by chance. His natural likability and gifted affinity for the drums changed everything. He came alive on stage — sporting a streak in his hair and flashy rings. That put his life on its unlikely trajectory, and ultimately made him a worldwide household name for some 55 years now.
That likability, his reliable steady beat, and his flair for a tasteful fill made him an important part of the Beatles, which is saying something. He sang lead on 11 songs. The good songs went to the movies and toward the grueling single-release schedule that Martin and Epstein enforced. Beatles for Sale, which came out between the two soundtracks, was another unprecedented smash, spending months at No.
Great groovy fuzzed-out bass line, though. Supposedly recorded in one take. One assumes this was a live crowd-pleaser, because its charms are elusive on disc. American records were rare in Britain, and the band picked up what songs they could from the eccentric assortment that presented itself; this was originally done in a distaff version by an obscure Detroit girl group called the Donays, written by one Ricky Dee.
Of the four Beatles, Harrison was the only one who grew up in a nuclear family; like the others, though, he also grew up with an outhouse, and playing in rubbled lots, the detritus of a terrible war that had given undue attention to Liverpool, a major port. Lennon could of course be much crueler about it. Harrison responded by leaving Lennon out of his autobiography. This is routinely referred to as a Beatles oddity, but the song itself is from The Music Man , one of the best American musicals of the era.
The song about the meter maid, fine. But we draw the line at animal songs, particularly when the story, pointless to begin with, goes nowhere. Much later, Lennon would play it with the Plastic Ono Band. He, too, grew up marginally in a damaged city; he lost his mother at More than any of the Beatles, and indeed more than just about anyone you can think of, he has radiated happiness and contentment and not in a self-satisfied way for most of his life. He was in the biggest-selling band of the s, and was probably the biggest-selling artist of the s as well.
He was also — how to put this? He smoked marijuana heroically most of his life, and lived a great love story with his wife, Linda Eastman, until her too-early death in If Paul McCartney has a dark side, it is the voice inside him demanding that he dominate every genre of pop music with his cosmically pleasurable, almost ridiculously facile skills. Here, a number for toddlers. And some people say he was a humorless moralist. But there was a way in which he was always on parole, and over the years his resentment grew.
Docked another five notches for having basically the same title as another, even worse, song on the same album. This one, by Roy Lee Johnson, is a genuine oddity, partly crooned, party wailed. He has an amazing voice. In addition to the lulling arrangement and production — novel and relaxing, spectacular and subtle — we have Paul mulling things over, a step up from grinning platitudes about nothing. The argument against it is that it is in the end an argument for the status quo. Given his place in the universe, of course Paul McCartney liked things the way they were.
You might think the song is directed at rich, complacent hippies — but the rich, complacent hippies in the Beatles would never write a song about that, would they? The very antithesis of a moon-spoon-June love song. Lennon grew up a striking artistic personality, living, it needs hardly be said, at a time and in a place where this was barely recognized. Without getting too psychological about it, you can say this left him with lingering anger and displacement issues, manifesting in lots of drinking and random acts of cruelty many never forgot.
As the Decade of the Beatles wore on, a growing realization of some of these issues put his sensibility on a collision course with the unprecedented circus of a professional life he had inadvertently found himself in. The result in the latter years of the s was a lot of growing up, and out, in public, via this or that very personal, and sometimes not very attractive, artistic statement on the matter.
This is a takeoff on Animal Farm , and anything but subtle. Funny voices, too. This is a slow grinder, sung earnestly by Lennon. Way too much echo on the track, though. Painfully plain, this is one of the first complete songs McCartney and Lennon wrote together. Simple is not the word; there are exactly 17 different words in the song, three of which manage to extend to two syllables.
If you grew up with Abbey Road you probably still love it. This is a less interesting, blaring track. The animation film Yellow Submarine was built around it years later. The film was not written by the Beatles, and does not feature their voices either, but their inspiration made it a highly enjoyable cinematic experience, then and now.
And no one could reproduce the inherent manic feel of the Beatles. I respect that Lennon is trying to strip down his work to elements, lose his ego, profess his love for Ono, and disappear to be reborn, all that shit. The outro is interminable, undergirded with a roar of white noise, a nice effect.
It finally ends, abruptly, with a sharp cut, mid-note. Later, Emerick came to feel Lennon was right. What came to be called the Get Back sessions featured songs like this — a guitar or two, bass drums, maybe a keyboard, with natural voices on top. You want to like songs like this — and particularly this song, with two of the most familiar voices in the world winding around each other with obvious pleasure. The documentary made of these sessions, Let It Be , is an engrossing, wan, sometimes joyous, but ultimately troubled look at four friends who could no longer get it together to record earth-shattering music.
The band shelved the material and eventually re-formed to record and release Abbey Road. The Get Back session tracks, by this point a red-headed stepchild, were later refashioned to varying degrees by Phil Spector and put out under the name Let It Be , which inadvertently became, in the eyes of the public, the Beatles sad swan song. This is one of them. With a sober nod to the past, they played it during the recording of Let It Be. Its official name is merely The Beatles. Side one:. Side two:. Despite the conceptual problems, there are striking moments in the first half, not least the cutaway to the credits, and of course the conceit of the foursome going home to a row of townhomes, all of which were connected inside.
The Help! There are various stories about whom or what this song is really about, but in the end the critical undertones seem sophomoric; after all, the Beatles had been surviving on amphetamines for nearly a decade. The intro is one of their drabbest. Too many of his songs consist of the title words repeated over and over in the chorus.
The band played it on the famous rooftop concert in Let It Be , but it was left off the album. The song, famously written as he waited for some friends on Blue Jay Way in the L.
Not I Second Time
Some nice sounds though. Those who shelled out money for them at the time could take comfort only in the fact that they must have been more tedious to make than they were to consume. Indeed, Harrison has three songs on the album. Sound and music and meaning came together for the band here in a way that it never would again. They were adults with an ever-changing, ever-more-pointed way of looking at the world; at the same time, the extraordinary tastefulness of the production techniques instilled by George Martin gave them powerful tools to capture those impressions.
This has a hummable melody, a decent bridge, a rambling bass track by McCartney, and really not much else. I guess this is a minor Beatles song, from the period just before things started to get really interesting, but the melody and the arrangement mix, here, as in so many other songs in their oeuvre, in a lovely and highly likable way.
Note the waltz time in the middle eight, with the melancholy insert from Lennon. The band barrels through the verses at top speed, not noticing they are supposed to done herky-jerky style.
As recorded, three minutes of pop glory set to a melancholy, aching melody, wrapped up in whistles, flutes, vocals, production swirls, and McCartney ululations. We take it all for granted now, but the sound spaces created on the track are exquisite. The result is lulling and stately, a dream in audio Technicolor. Too much of the lyrics are clumsy. Is Paul himself the Fool on the Hill? Pepper to compare with the three or four landmark tracks he delivered on Revolver. This song took its inspiration from a Corn Flakes commercial. There are a lot of groovy sound effects, but the story it tries to purvey is a little confused, and it clashes conceptually with the far more visionary treatment of the same subject in the last track on the album.
Here we have JoJo andSweet Loretta, with other whimsical words strung together as if they mean something, which they most assuredly do not.
Not a Second Time - Wikipedia
The Lennon-McCartney songwriting sessions were supposed to take care of vapid lyric conceptions like this. McCartney is barely even processing what he is saying. I sing along every time it comes out of a speaker within earshot, just as you do. The real star here is the sound. The vocals, with a ghostly aura around them, fill most of the recording; way in the back, a bass and a subtle drum track seem to exist on an entirely different plane.
The trouble with too many of his compositions is that they turn in on themselves; they have no meaning outside of the actual song, and neither do the funny guitar noises he comes up with here. The result? It never appeared on a normal band album in the U. LP release that vacuumed up a number of uncollected hits.
Not a Second Time
Still in the U. The chorus rocks okay. McCartney sings the heck out of it; the manic instrumental breaks lack rock-and-roll bite, but for a pop song they are pretty lively. Better, better, better. The singer used to beat his wife, but things are getting better. It was top-ten hit in the U. This is a very pretty John Lennon song whose lyrics go on and on across the universe.
He was proud of it; to me, the whole thing, including the faux -Indian chorus, sounds dated. The song, which the band had recorded but not released, appeared on a charity album in , and then, in different form, on Let It Be the next year, Spectored up. The original version is on Past Masters. The earlier version, while marred by some bird sounds and some chirpy munchkin backing vocal, is a little more organic-sounding.
The song is not well served by the clunky break. A great find by the band. The song was recorded in the early part of , before the group trouped off to India, and turned up later as part of the detritus on the first side of the Yellow Submarine soundtrack album. It can be asked about a lot of pop songs, in the s and of course before and after: Why do boys who suddenly find themselves stars, and sleep with a different, willing woman after every show, suddenly start writing songs about unfaithful women?
I mean, besides projection. Docked 20 notches for making you sing along with a guy who wants to kill his girlfriend. He had so many advantages, and lived an amazing life. So he was of course entitled to — and deserving of — expiation artistically.
It feels like he wants to have it both ways. All the guitar workouts seem forced. Lennon would tame and focus these feelings to much better effect a few years later on Plastic Ono Band. His voice was so limited McCartney fashioned a melody for him largely centered around five contiguous notes. The ending presented a challenge. By the time Revolver was released , the band members were adults, and dealing with unprecedented pressures — recording, money, the constant push and pull of fame, and pressing management questions.
Epstein, by all accounts a talented guy, was only half a visionary, and was damaged by drug addiction and the debilitating life he had to lead, hiding his sexuality from the world. The band knew Epstein was gay, but largely left it alone, except for Lennon and his sharp tongue. By most accounts, Lennon shared a common working-class attitude toward homosexuality, and expressed himself volubly about fags and queers — affectionately, but often with a bite, when it came to his manager.
As Lennon grew older, he embraced feminism and grew out of his lumpen early attitudes, as of course someone with his intelligence and personality would. Still, he and Epstein were close. Lennon said the involvement was never consummated, but you could see how when he told his bandmates the story it could have been elaborated on to give Lennon a taste of his own medicine.
Sometime after, at a large public party, Lennon beat the living shit out of a friend who made a crack about him and Epstein, nearly causing a scandal. His business instincts and flair for organization took the Beatles to the top, but it would have taken a far greater mind than his to ride competently on the financial whirlwind he helped create. He died of what was apparently an accidental overdose shortly after Sgt.
This, the title song, might have been a good introduction to it. We then got myriad varying styles and varying quality with no sign of the metaband again until the reprise. That said, within the confines of the record, the song certainly rocks, albeit harmlessly. The release of the album was a worldwide event. A great hook for the only good song on Beatles for Sale. The verses are just pointless variations on a theme that goes nowhere.
Again, the effortless rise in the melody was tracked unerringly by his supple voice. The melodic climb in the chorus nails it; note how he affects to have a bit of trouble hitting the high notes, when of course he could sing them easily. Great ending, too. He was probably on heroin during the recording of this track, if not the composition, hence the convincing delivery of the title words. The film featured the members of the Beatles on what was supposed to be a surreal version of the British tradition of the touristy bus trip, and was shown in a high-profile forum: The traditional BBC day-after-Christmas special Boxing Day, there.
It created a minor scandal, not because it was outrageous but because it sucked balls. Magical Mystery Tour is unfunny, uninteresting, uncreative, cheap-looking, extraordinarily poorly shot, and — ironically — never went anywhere. But the title song is a marvel. But this is classic-era Beatles at their classic-era standard, which is to say the song sports a dizzying array of production innovations, melodic frills, thrilling instrumentation, head-snapping song construction, precise singing, and a driving backing track.
And one of those lovely Beatles codas. Still, docked ten notches for false advertising. Harrison found a thunderous riff in the music and uses it well. It trails off from time to time, though.
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It was a shtick, a trick, we knew it. Upped 20 notches for subtext. Another tossed-off track that outclasses virtually everything else around. Notice how again McCartney effortlessly — that word again — makes the transition to European love man, dropping casually into French, and asserting his bass into a lead instrument. The track mirrored developments in his life. During this time, he was dating a model named Jane Asher who came from a privileged family. In continental fashion, the family invited McCartney to live with them.
But he had three creditable songs on this album. They and producer Martin expressed regret in later years for not being more available. Songwriting was slow for Harrison. He himself noted that the pair had the relative luxury of getting all their bad songs out of their systems early. He had to start from scratch, without a partner, and in public. And one other thing: Harrison himself contributed any number of powerful and distinctive riffs to Lennon-McCartney songs, over and above his distinctive playing.
The pair stitched together three verses of psychedelic patchwork as a joint project, with a six-word chorus. Lennon himself works this one on out, and the other members of the group deliver the unrelenting pile-driver of a backing track. Chirpy Paul at his chirpiest. It was originally a showcase for drummer Pete Best in the Beatles, but Starr had also been singing it with the Hurricanes.
They were in fact supposed to play live, but in the end the group created a typically ornate backing track in the studio to sing in front of. Today such exposure is now available to every kitten with a smart phone that can play piano, but at the time the broadcast — a bravura show of technological force by the BBC — was a not insignificant event.
All 213 Beatles Songs, Ranked From Worst to Best
You can find it online, and see Keith Moon and Mick Jagger in the audience. Maybe you can watch it and think about where these guys had been five years earlier and not get a little choked up. The song later turned up on the Yellow Submarine soundtrack album. McCartney, of course, wins in the pop realm.
All but his very earliest songs and his later throwaways are sophisticated, and everything reverberates with taste and perspective. In other words, the melody itself tells a story. Lennon, McCartney, and Harrison then lock into the harmonies that helped make their name. The line about pain leading to pleasure takes this to the next level, as does his sharp intakes of breath.
And who were the Beatles to point fingers at a guy sleeping with his groupies? His keyboard work here is as powerful a hard-rock piano line as I can think of. And I know he meant the song to be sympathetic to women.
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Confidential to P. McC: Men have something to do with babies, too. Lennon would do it, too. Another concussive beginning, another arresting chorus; but the band to this point had never felt so unwound, so bashy. McCartney specialized in melodic lines that reached ever upward. Here he started high and went down, the perfect melody for doing the frug.
The song accompanies the famous freedom scene in A Hard Days Night , creating one of the most enduring images of the band. Gustav Mahler: Das Lied von der Erde. The Beatles The Beatles Anthology. San Francisco: Chronicle Books. Lewisohn, Mark The Beatles Recording Sessions. New York: Harmony Books. MacDonald, Ian London: Pimlico Rand. Mann, William 27 December The Beatles Bible. With the Beatles. Postman ". The Beatles discography.
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