FORM Intro -> Verse -> Verse -> Bridge -> Verse -> Outro (fadeout)
GENERAL POINTS OF INTEREST
- No exaggeration, the lyrics here may nose out even "Love Me Do" for skimpiness, though the use of different material in both the intro and the bridge makes up some of the deficit.
- The song fairly overflows with a number of leitmotifs all built out of chromatic scale fragements of 3 or 4 notes; the rising lead guitar riff at the end of the intro, a descending portion of the verse melody (on the "woah" that precedes the word "closer"), and in the recurrent little descending chord stream that appears in the second half of almost all the odd-numbered measures of the verse.
- The single most unusual chord in the song is the "flat II", found here in both the intro and the verse; we've seen this one before in "Things We Said Today" and "You're Going To Lose That Girl."
- George gets the first of his few chances to take the lead vocal in a Lennon- McCartney tune. The composers themselves show up vocally in the form of an old-fashioned "doo-wop"-like backing starting in the second verse.
- Like the piano in-lays of "Misery", the overdubbed tapping of drum sticks in the bridge is a musically small touch which is historically notable because of the trend in recording/arranging practice it signals.
|e |a e |G |F B | e: i iv i III flat II V
- The shift from e minor to E Major which occurs between intro and first verse is exceedingly smooth because of the "parallel" relationship between the two keys, but if you recall the first time you ever heard this song, it still has the power to surprise.
- Though emotionally and compositionally simplistic on one level, that minor- to-Major transition still effectively conveys the angst-cum-epiphanistic- joy "we" all go through in the unique moment of timidly expressing a burgeoning fondness.
"Listen ..." ------------- 2 x ------------- m.1 |E g# g |f# B7 |E g# g |f# F | E: I ii V I ii flat II "Closer ..." ----------------- 2 x ----------------- m.7 |E g# g |f# B7 |A |B | I ii V IV V m.13 |c# |f# B | vi ii V
- The first phrase is six measures and would seem to run harmonically in circles if it were not for its surprise ending in which we find yet another application of the chromatic chord stream cliche. Note how the F chord is unusually placed on top of the note C in the bass; as though Paul were uncomfortable with a certain awkwardness about the chord progression and trying to paper it over a bit.
- The second phrase is eight measures and though it too starts off running in the same tight circle, its harmonic rhythm broadens out into a deceptive cadence on vi before cycling back again to V.
- The melody of this verse is just as repetitious as the chord changes, and the falsetto flip in the last measure finally and satisfyingly opens up the previously constricted pitch range.
- The chord stream of g# minor -> g minor -> f# is more coloristic than "functional"; the ear comprehends the structural harmonic progression as though from E in the first measure to f# in the second. The *other* chord stream in measure 6 - 7 is actually more structurally significant than the previous one in that one hears the F Major chord as a surrogate Dominant with respect to the E (I) chord which opens the second phrase. Note how the melodic use of C natural at this juncture creates an allusion to the minor mode of e.
- The rhythm is in a shuffling beat throughout until the final four measures where it's suddenly interrupted by syncopation (m. 11 - 12), which then moderates to a pulsating bass drum beat before settling back to the shuffle.
- George's pronunciation of the word "ear" (especially in the first and third verses) offers us what 'Simon Marshal' would someday describe as "the old adenoidal glottal stop for our benefit".
------------- 2 x ------------- |A f# |c# b |f# |B | f#: III i v iv i E : IV E:ii V
- The harmonic transition into this section from the V chord on B which ends the previous verse is somewhat abrupt though by no means rude; the pivot for the modulation is not obvious to the ear, but at least it *is* a common chord to both keys involved.
- The pivot back to the home key is much smoother. It's a rather superb example of just how so-called pivot modulations work for those who have trouble grasping the concept: note how when the f# chord is followed by the B Major one, the ear retroactively reinterprets it as the ii chord of the original home key of E.
- In the arrangment, the do-dahs are given a break in deference to George's solo vocal. And Paul, having played up to this point a nicely elaborate bassline, gets a little carried away in this section and winds up making a mistake on the first c# chord, by playing a B natural which clashes with the chord above it.
- The song fades very rapidly and a surviving outtake reveals that the studio performance of the official version actually ended, barely a few seconds after our fade, with a complete ending on an added-sixth chord.
- That added sixth so nicely summarizes the song that it's especially unfortunate they chose to mask it out. Looking back over the full length of the piece, one notes how much the sonority of the added-sixth resonates within it; e.g., the repeated appoggiatura of C#->B on the words "listen" and "secret" in the verse, and the large number of deceptive cadences in which you so strongly anticipate the next chord to be E, yet it turns out to be (surprise!) c# instead. To the extent that this added-sixth has the incidental sound of the I (E) and vi (c#) superimposed upon each other, it makes for an effective harmonic double-entendre.
- BTW, Paul makes yet another mistake in the bassline of this section, analogous to the one in the bridge.
SOME FINAL THOUGHTS - The aesthetic of sentimental shy puppy love and gauzy soft focus is not one to which the Boys were often drawn over the long run; Sweet and Cuddly Moptops notwithstanding, it didn't suit them as a group. Even here, they manage to rescue this one from drowning in its own cliches only by means of an abundance of interesting details and a modicum of sincerity.
- Ironically, it's the more subtle aesthetic of repetition here, which you would be tempted to denegrate offhand as a matter of lazy craft, which provides one of the major sources of emotional realism and "sincerity" to the song. I'd bet, for example, that anyone out there who relates to the pre-confessional anxiety of the intro will also vouch for the corresponding post-declaration euphoria in which all they wanted, even needed, to do was repeat the same words of love like a mantra, endlessly without stopping.
Regards, Alan (email@example.com *OR* uunet!huxley!awp)
"I don't really know, but it sounded distinguished like, didn't it ?" 081991#32
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