KEY E Major METER 4/4 (with 3/4 surprises) FORM Intro -> Verse -> Refrain (abridged) -> Verse -> Refrain -> Verse -> Refrain -> Outro (fadeout)
GENERAL POINTS OF INTEREST
- This is yet another one of John's broad-gesture songs. It's an early foreshadow of the primal scream style that he would increasingly be drawn to in some of his "solo" work with Yoko, but as a Beatles track, this one bears comparison with "Yer Blues" in terms of its heavy guitar texture and sometimes wrenching meter.
- The painfully slow harmonic rhythm combined with the virtually unoticeable broderline between Verse and Refrain sections creates the impression of an improvisatory rave-up that could go on seeminly forever; as if, as actually happens in the case of the later "Dig It," the officially released track was just a conveniently-sized slice lifted out of a much longer, complete studio performance.
- The "wrenching meter" effect here is caused by switching the meter from 4/4 to 3/4 for two measures of the last phrase of the refrain. John had used essentially the same gambit in "Strawberry Fields Forever;" but you won't read about *that* in the newspapers :-)
- The lyrics are a rather extreme example of John's talent for milking poetic ambiguity from small bites of cliched small talk; "Come on/ take it easy". The amazing thing is how the roots of this go as far back as such early tracks as "Yes It Is."
- Most of the melodic material is from the realm of rapping chant. Only for the title phrase followed by the lead guitar solo does it rise to the level of memorable tunefulness.
- Harmony is predominated by what I call the "Hey Jude" trio of I, IV, and flat-VII. This is rounded out by the inclusion of flat-III (the next hop around the cycle of fifths from flat-VII), and the garden variety V chord. The juxtaposition of V with flat-VII, and I with flat-III creates two classic cross-relations.
- The backing track is thick and heavily pulsing with the sound of many guitar overdubs, the bass, and drum kit.
- The shaken (cow?) bell only *seems* to be incessant. If you manage to track it (come on, you can do it yourself this time), you'll note how neatly it is dropped out and back in over the course of the song; typical Beatlesque attention to detail.
- The intro is eight measures long and features a syncopated vamp on the I -> IV chord progression repeated four times. We're parsing the tempo here as a fast 4/4:
------- 4X ------ |E |A | E: I IV
- The verse in each case is 12 measures of jamming on the I chord. No small amount shuffling action underlies the otherwise moribund harmony.
--------------- 3X -------------- |E |- |- |- | I
- The complete refrain is 24 measures long and is built out of an unusual poetic pattern; the first two phrases seem like just a direct continuation of the talky verse, the next two phrases have singing only in their first halves, and the final two phrases are left entirely instrumentl. Paradoxically, though the harmonic rhythm steadily picks up pace in this section, the spoken word becomes increasingly more sparse.
--------------- 2X -------------- |E |- |- |- | I |A |- |- |- | IV |D |- |- |- | flat-VII |B |- |- |- | V ***3/4 *** 3/4 *** 4/4 ... |E |D |G |- | I flat-VII flat-III ***3/4 *** 3/4 *** 4/4 ... |E |G |D |- | I flat-III flat-VII
- The first refrain is actually eight measures short, starting as it does where the chords change to A Major, below. If you imagine the song without this shortcut, you can sense the danger of boredom quickly setting it by too much unrelieved exposure to the E Major chord.
- By no coincidence, the metrical shift directly coincides with, and its dramatic effect is intensified by, the most memorable guitar solo lick in entire track.
- The reversable deployment of the chord progression in the final two phrases nicely resonates with the inside/outside running joke in the lyrics.
- The instruments drop out for the first four measures of the outro, leaving the noisemaking vocalists momentarily in the spotlight.
- The remainder of the outro suggests a kind of never-ending repeat of the verse section.
|E |- |- |- | I |- |- |D |- | flat-VII |- |- |- |- | -------------- 3X ... ----------- |E |- |- |- | I
SOME FINAL THOUGHTS
- Here we have an example where the Esher demo, compared to the official version, is unusually sketchy with respect to musical detail: e.g. no intro, the chord progressions are incomplete and in some places different; the guitar work lacks punch, the tune doesn't fit properly above the chords, and the most distinctive melodic riffs appear to have yet been composed.
- By the same token, the broad strokes are already quite in evidence: the verses with their pattering lyrics rapped out over repetitive harmonies, and the refrains with their sparser lyrics declaimed over more chord changes more clearly directed.
- IMHO, the extent to which the demo successfully captures the fundamental essence of the finished product in spite of all sketchiness only goes to underscore the notion that this song is, at heart, big gesture-oriented.
Regards, Alan (firstname.lastname@example.org) ---
"We've broken out, oh, the blessed freedom of it all!" 051098#148 Copyright (c) 1998 by Alan W. Pollack All Rights Reserved
Click here to return to AWP's index.