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Love Me Do. . . and we did
October 5, 2012 1:14 AM   Subscribe

Fifty years ago today, the UK record company EMI Parlophone put out a single by four young lads from Liverpool: Love Me Do
posted by Mister Bijou (82 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
I do love his do. It's a rather daring do for the time.
posted by pracowity at 1:36 AM on October 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


The lyrics are completely inane. What twelve year old sat down and came up with rhymes like "do", "true", and "blue"?

These guys have no future. Mark my words.
posted by twoleftfeet at 1:44 AM on October 5, 2012 [8 favorites]


Sexual intercourse began
In nineteen sixty-three
(which was rather late for me) -
Between the end of the Chatterley ban
And the Beatles' first LP.

Up to then there'd only been
A sort of bargaining,
A wrangle for the ring,
A shame that started at sixteen
And spread to everything.

Then all at once the quarrel sank:
Everyone felt the same,
And every life became
A brilliant breaking of the bank,
A quite unlosable game.

So life was never better than
In nineteen sixty-three
(Though just too late for me) -
Between the end of the Chatterley ban
And the Beatles' first LP.
posted by Devonian at 1:52 AM on October 5, 2012 [6 favorites]


ت
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 2:04 AM on October 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Ah... Annus Mirabilis by Philip Larkin!
posted by Mister Bijou at 2:05 AM on October 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


These guys aren't a patch on Brian Poole and the Tremeloes.
posted by MuffinMan at 2:06 AM on October 5, 2012


Here's a BBC iPlayer radio programme about the Beatles' year in 1962 - and here's another (available soon after 10pm UK time) specifically about Love Me Do.
posted by iotic at 2:06 AM on October 5, 2012


Never heard of them.
posted by Mezentian at 2:11 AM on October 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


and here's another (available soon after 10pm UK time) specifically about Love Me Do.

Sadly, BBC TV iPlayer material is not available outside of Britain.

(The first link works, however, because BBC Radio material isn't blocked.)
posted by hippybear at 2:19 AM on October 5, 2012


I was into them when they were called The Quarrymen. Before they went mainstream.
posted by phl at 2:22 AM on October 5, 2012 [7 favorites]


I feel, being British, that in my lifetime we lost an empire bought in blood and hard bargaining, and became part of a much bigger, more brilliant one. Lost soil, won hearts.
posted by Devonian at 2:24 AM on October 5, 2012 [6 favorites]


These guys have no future.

no, that was the sex pistols
posted by pyramid termite at 2:25 AM on October 5, 2012 [5 favorites]


I have some sympathy for Decca's A&R guy who turned down the Beatles, which everyone says is the worst mistake in music history etc etc.

But I wonder, were I in his shoes and got Brian Epstein to play me their choice for lead single... and he puts on 'Love Me Do'.

Well let's face it, it's really shit. Clunky, slow and annoying.

Ian MacDonald said 'Love Me Do' rang "the first faint chime of a revolutionary bell", which is a load steaming hagiographic guff.

Roll on 'Please Please Me' - THAT'S when it really started!
posted by TheAlarminglySwollenFinger at 2:36 AM on October 5, 2012


no, that was the sex pistols

There were thirteen years between Love Me Do and the Pistols.

Thirteen years.

You say you want a revolution?
posted by Devonian at 2:37 AM on October 5, 2012 [13 favorites]


This makes me feel very old - I remember the 20 year anniversary...
posted by DanCall at 2:46 AM on October 5, 2012


I have some sympathy for Decca's A&R guy who turned down the Beatles, which everyone says is the worst mistake in music history etc etc.

But I wonder, were I in his shoes and got Brian Epstein to play me their choice for lead single... and he puts on 'Love Me Do'.

Well let's face it, it's really shit. Clunky, slow and annoying.


Right, except that the Beatles were rejected by Decca based on a recording session which happened in January 1962, and Love Me Do was recorded, at its earliest, in June. Decca's guy had never heard Love Me Do, and rejected them based on an entirely different set of songs, for which he was apparently actually present at the recording sessions.

So... yeah. Love Me Do may not be the strongest track ever, but it was recorded for Parlaophone with George Martin present.
posted by hippybear at 2:49 AM on October 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


If memory serves, the Decca A&R guy went on to sign the Rolling Stones. .500 for iconic 60's groups then?
posted by ewan at 2:56 AM on October 5, 2012


Decca's guy had never heard Love Me Do, and rejected them based on an entirely different set of songs, for which he was apparently actually present at the recording sessions.

Bloody facts, eh?! That's me told.
posted by TheAlarminglySwollenFinger at 3:12 AM on October 5, 2012


There were thirteen years between Love Me Do and the Pistols.

Thirteen years.


I hate people saying that.
posted by Jimbob at 3:27 AM on October 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's okay, man, there's 35 years between the Pistols and One Direction.
posted by Mezentian at 3:39 AM on October 5, 2012 [6 favorites]


There's been more years between the last time that McCarthy played in Wings (he was in a band?) than between the end of the Beatles and Wings...
posted by MartinWisse at 3:43 AM on October 5, 2012


How many Mull of Kintyres is that?
posted by Mezentian at 3:45 AM on October 5, 2012


Mulls of Kintyre, surely?
posted by phl at 3:51 AM on October 5, 2012 [9 favorites]


@MartinWisse, McCartney, or is this some subtle joke that went straight over my head?
posted by epo at 3:54 AM on October 5, 2012


It's a post-modern reference to HUAC and spy-drones.
How could you miss that?
posted by Mezentian at 3:55 AM on October 5, 2012


Oh, here's a quote to make you feel old:
Today marks the 50th anniversary of the first credited single release by The Beatles - who would feature in Doctor Who in stock footage in The Executioners (episode 1 of The Chase) - and if he had a time machine Matt Smith would love to see the Fab Four: "I'd go see music - the Beatles at their height, or Woodstock, or Kurt Cobain live. I'd love to see Arcade Fire in a room somewhere."
posted by Mezentian at 3:59 AM on October 5, 2012


Here is one of the many videoclips The Beatles made. It shows how realy music was made in those days. without difficult samples, rap, r&n etc. etc.

Difficult samples? R&N? YouTube is never not weird. (I didn't dare look at the comments, of course.)
posted by Horace Rumpole at 4:11 AM on October 5, 2012


Shortly thereafter, a very nice young man from Chicago (his Mother thinks he's very talented), recorded a rousing musical response.
posted by .kobayashi. at 4:11 AM on October 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


I owned that single.
posted by Obscure Reference at 4:25 AM on October 5, 2012


Fifty years ago today, the UK record company EMI Parlophone put out a single by four young lads from Liverpool

Wrong. It was three young lads from Liverpool and one not-quite-so-young lad from Glasgow.

You can now remove the RingoStarr tag from this post.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:26 AM on October 5, 2012 [7 favorites]


Sobering: the Beatles' early recordings are older to my kid than Al Jolson recordings were to me at the same age.

Old old old.
posted by spitbull at 4:27 AM on October 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


Oh, and in case you missed this from the Wikipedia article on the Love Me Do drummer...

White was reportedly paid about £57 for the session and he did not earn any royalties from the sale of the records.

Nice.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:36 AM on October 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Wow!! I've never seen a decent photo of Stu Sutcliffe. He was dreamy! ::sigh::

What were we talking about again?

Oh, yes.

Well. I was born whilst the Beatles were breaking up. So I feel simultaneously as though I've missed something utterly awesome, and yet I'm still old. :(
posted by droplet at 4:46 AM on October 5, 2012


I'm always in awe of the difference between John Lennon here and then here; a mere six or so year span but such a difference in sound, in look, in point of view.
posted by h00py at 4:47 AM on October 5, 2012


Wrong. It was three young lads from Liverpool and one not-quite-so-young lad from Glasgow.

That depends. I suggest you go back and read the Wiki article. You'll see that if you had bought the initial 1962 UK pressing it was Starr. That was the version that got into the UK charts in October 1962. Whereas the subsequent UK pressing in 1963 and the American 1964 pressing feature White.
posted by Mister Bijou at 4:47 AM on October 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


And that £57 is about £1,000 in today's money, so not too bad for a day's work.
posted by phl at 4:49 AM on October 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm more of a fan of the singles circa Rubber Soul myself.
posted by nowhere man at 5:03 AM on October 5, 2012


That depends.

Right you are, Mister Bijou, and in fact the YT clip you linked to is that very original, with the esteemed Mr. Starkey (who I dearly love, as any follower of flapjax posts will be aware) on drums. So... I take it back! The RingoStarr tag stays!

For the record, the version that is more familiar to all of us, with Andy White on drums and Ringo on tambourine, is this one. As it happens, Paul's singing was stronger and more confident on the later take, you'll notice. And the drumming is, in fact, crisper and more accomplished.

And that £57 is about £1,000 in today's money, so not too bad for a day's work.

Indeed, not bad. And of course, the session player gets his fee whether the song is a major hit or whether it flops. There are definitely worse jobs out there.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:03 AM on October 5, 2012


Pay, pay me do
Cause I played for you
You never were true
So plea-ea-ea-ease pay me do
posted by ersatz at 5:06 AM on October 5, 2012


(source for that £57 => £1,000 inflation calculation, if anyone wondered).
posted by phl at 5:09 AM on October 5, 2012


What always amazed me most about the Beatles in 1962 is that, besides recording this session, they also played 351 gigs, plus making five TV show appearances and four radio appearances. Quite often two or even three a day. The year before, they played...351 gigs. The year after, a mere 228 gigs, but 37 TV shows and 53 radio shows. In a seven-year span they played almost 1400 appearances.
posted by Fnarf at 5:16 AM on October 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


Fun fact: the reign of Cleopatra is further removed in time from the construction of the Great Pyramid of Giza than from the release of "Love Me Do".
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 5:20 AM on October 5, 2012 [11 favorites]


It's funny how so many people (myself included) were completely unable to grasp how big the Beatles would eventually become. It makes you want to pay more attention to that band that's playing in the bar on Tuesday night because, hey, you never know.
posted by tommasz at 5:20 AM on October 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


Average annual wage in 1962 was £800, so £57 was 3-4 weeks pay for the average man. Indeed not bad, if you could get regular work.
posted by epo at 5:27 AM on October 5, 2012


It makes you want to pay more attention to that band that's playing in the bar on Tuesday night

As a musician who performs live rather frequently, I heartily encourage this sentiment.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:29 AM on October 5, 2012 [4 favorites]


There were thirteen years between Love Me Do and the Pistols.

Yeah, Yeah, Yeah

Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah.
posted by Devils Rancher at 5:30 AM on October 5, 2012 [4 favorites]


Well let's face it, it's really shit. Clunky, slow and annoying.

Certainly not their best, but actually there are plenty of emerging unique Beatles songwriting traits in the song:

- Vocal harmonies in wide unusual intervals (fifths instead of the usual Everlys-style thirds)
- Unusual phrase or section lengths (the verse is 13 measures!)
- Modal inflections in the melody (e.g. varying between F and Fsharp in the bridge)
- Stop time interruptions for dramatic effect
- Attention to detail in arrangement (handclaps)

And if you compare it to the track George Martin asked them to record, How Do You Do It?, there's an abundance of feeling and personality in there too. Paul has always referred to it as some sort of 'Liverpool Blues' - if anything it should probably be even slower...
posted by colie at 5:34 AM on October 5, 2012 [7 favorites]


Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah.

That's a great DEVO track. New Wave singing doesn't come any more perfect than that. Crazy tight little tune, too.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:35 AM on October 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


The thing that got to me upon viewing this clip and listening to the song is how perfect Paul looks and the harmonies performed by Paul and John, although you pretty much just see John play the harmonica, which is an excellent sound all by itself. Don't underestimate the importance of the harmonica solo in the popularity of this song. It's really well done.
posted by h00py at 5:44 AM on October 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


That's a great DEVO track.

That came up on random during the morning commute, right after I'd skipped about three Beatles songs in a row, and was thinking about this thread (and how sad it is that I, whose path as a mscician was inspired by the beatles when I was 5 or 6, have just simply grown tired of them) and it struck me as an inspired choice. They really were Killin' it for a few years, there.
posted by Devils Rancher at 5:53 AM on October 5, 2012


Don't underestimate the importance of the harmonica solo in the popularity of this song. It's really well done.

Yeah, and I've always thought that a little more harmonica here and there, throughout the Beatles' recording career, wouldn't have been a bad idea. But it wasn't meant to be. Hell, even Stevie freakin' Wonder, a masterful harmonica player, didn't add it to nearly enough of his tunes, IMO.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:57 AM on October 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


This makes me feel very old - I remember the 20 year anniversary...

You feel old? I remember the day it got released! And the Beatles regular appearances on Scene at Six Thirty -- generally introduced by Bill Grundy of later Sex Pistols fame.

(You should never have left Granada, Bill. See what happens when people move to London and get too big for their boots?)

[Journalist and seasoned broadcaster Bill Grundy was the first person to present The Beatles to television audiences when he introduced their small-screen debut on Granada TV on 17 October, 1962.]
posted by PeterMcDermott at 6:18 AM on October 5, 2012




This makes me feel very old - I remember the 20 year anniversary

I must be dead then, buried, and ressurected as Pigboy Cranshaw, then. I saw Hard Days Night at the drive-in in 1964.

There were thirteen years between Love Me Do and the Pistols. Thirteen years.

Here is what was on the radio thirteen years -- thirteen years before the Beatles earliest records.

In 1949, the big hit-makers were Perry Como, Vic Damone, Tommy Dorsey, Frankie Lane, Bing Crosby, Dinah Shore, the Andrews Sisters . . .

Those folks also had interesting hair, clothes, and attitudes.

The Beatles and Pistols records sound different, but the way they were made have more in common than either did with the earlier way of making pop records.

The biggest change the Beatles wrought was the DIY aesthetic. The model of pop star ceased to be the interpretive singer supported by studio musicians, arrangers, and song-writers, and became the self-contained band that writes, arranges, and performs their own songs. This ideal was seldom a reality, of course, but the Beatles came as close as anyone (with the help of George Martin).

If you're interested in the details -- and I mean detailed details -- I can't recommend Beatlesongs by William J. Dowlding highly enough. John played more bass, Paul more lead, and George more keys, synths, ouds and ends than you might have thought.
 
posted by Herodios at 7:15 AM on October 5, 2012 [6 favorites]


The Beatles have no future in show business. We don't like your boys' sound. Groups are out; four-piece groups with guitars, particularly, are finished.
posted by Monkeymoo at 7:26 AM on October 5, 2012


And in pure coincidence of history, Oct 5, 1962 is when "Dr. No" was released.
posted by Shadan7 at 7:34 AM on October 5, 2012


And in pure coincidence of history, Oct 5, 1962 is when "Dr. No" was released.

This morning the Beeb was calling 1962, "the year Britain became cool" and "the year Britain began exporting cool".
 
posted by Herodios at 7:42 AM on October 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Herodios, "ouds and ends" is my new favorite thing. Especially (but not only) in reference to George Harrison.
posted by fingers_of_fire at 8:00 AM on October 5, 2012


> It's funny how so many people (myself included) were completely unable to grasp how big the Beatles would eventually become.

Yeah, I remember when my kid brother came home clutching his first Beatles 45 and I thought smugly "Ah, kids these days will listen to anything." (Still to this day, much as I love the Beatles, "Please Mister Postman" is to me first and foremost a Marvelettes song.)
posted by languagehat at 8:09 AM on October 5, 2012


Too white. Who'd they steal this music from anyway?
posted by ReeMonster at 8:16 AM on October 5, 2012


"Please Mister Postman" is to me first and foremost a Marvelettes song

Yeah, I'm glad they stopped doing covers pretty early on.

I find that the covers the Beatles did added little or nothing to the originals, with the exception of maybe "Twist and Shout" and the ones they gave to Ringo to sing, particularly "Boys", "Honey Don't", and "Act Naturally".

"Boys" is kind of a weird song for them, but Ringo's baritone on lead against the others higher voices in the call and response totally works.

Butcheah, I skip their Chuck Berry covers every time; "'Til There Was You" is more enjoyable. They were much better synthesists than interpreters.

And I'm pretty sure the covers exist only because they needed to draw from their club repertiore to fill up albums under time constraints.
 
posted by Herodios at 8:35 AM on October 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Like most people I'd never heard of them. Not until Dick Biondi started playing She Loves You and I Wanna Hold Your Hand on WLS all the time. Up until then I didn't think much of the rock'n'roll on the radio, it was almost all ... kid stuff.

But those chord progressions and the harmonies ... whoa. The thrills softened me up. By the time Jumpin Jack Flash arrived, I'd been diverted perverted inverted and alerted.

It'd be a few years before the word mindshare came along. By then it was all long, long over.
posted by Twang at 8:39 AM on October 5, 2012


Yeah, I'm glad they stopped doing covers pretty early on.

I agree that the Chuck Berry covers are a bit dull.

But their versions did totally surpass these originals in my opinion:

Long Tall Sally
Dizzy Miss Lizzy
Twist and Shout
Money
Clarabella
Hippy Hippy Shake
posted by colie at 8:58 AM on October 5, 2012


Photos: Rare photos of Beatles fans
posted by stbalbach at 9:09 AM on October 5, 2012


Here's a great interview with Bruce Channel and Delbert McClinton about how Delbert McClinton's harmonica work on Bruce Channel's Hey Baby influenced John Lennon in writing Love Me Do.
posted by jonp72 at 9:34 AM on October 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


Clunky, slow and annoying

From your 21st century perspective, perhaps. But back then, it was a distinctive, new sound.
posted by Rash at 9:34 AM on October 5, 2012


I prefer their cover of "You Really Got a Hold on Me" to the Miracles' original. "Slow Down" is good, too. I also like the Beatles-original-in-Little-Richard-style "I'm Down."
posted by kirkaracha at 10:10 AM on October 5, 2012


Beatles-original-in-Little-Richard-style "I'm Down."

The verse of I'm Down is a straight lift of 'What'd I Say".
posted by colie at 10:31 AM on October 5, 2012


But their versions did totally surpass these originals in my opinion:

Long Tall Sally
Dizzy Miss Lizzy
Twist and Shout
Money
Clarabella
Hippy Hippy Shake


John does a great Mr. Moonlight too, but most of those covers work because Paul has an amazing Rock n'Roll voice!
posted by TwoWordReview at 11:42 AM on October 5, 2012


But I wonder, were I in his shoes and got Brian Epstein to play me their choice for lead single... and he puts on 'Love Me Do'.

Well let's face it, it's really shit. Clunky, slow and annoying.


I beg to differ. The harmonies are just as appealing and buoyant 50 years later as are those of "Please Please Me," "P.S. I Love You," "Chains," etc. I wouldn't call it my favorite Beatles song, but it has its appeal.

And knowing that it's now 50 years since it was released makes me feel verrrry old.
posted by blucevalo at 12:02 PM on October 5, 2012


One of these days I need to shell out the $$$ for the Beatles Mono box. Sigh.
posted by Ber at 12:23 PM on October 5, 2012


colie's comment about their use of harmony reminded me of a spirited, umm, discussion I once had with someone at a pub. She loved all kinds of music, but couldn't stand The Beatles at all because, she said, their vocal harmonies were never quite right. To her ears, they were always a little out of key and that tiny slippage from perfect harmony drove her mad.

So talk to me like I'm 5, music geeks:

1) Can any of you hear the same thing that she was describing? If you can, could you please break it down a bit for us non-musicologists?

2) If you don't agree with her, what do you think was going on that she perceived as being out of key?

I've dug around a bit and found The Harmonic Language of the Beatles, which goes into more detail about their use of fifths rather than thirds, which apparently carried some risks. From section 07:
So why did the Beatles and their contemporaries use harmony in the way that they did? I would like to answer this question by the term "exploding functional harmony." ...

It's not a coincidence that it's bVII and II, the two major chords closest to respectively IV and V on the circle of fifths, that are used more freely. There are two reasons for this:

1) The further away from the tonic one moves on the circle of fifths, the greater the risk that melody notes will collide with chords and create unwanted dissonances. Using for example a F# major chord in the key of C will mean a very great risk for clashing with the melody -- not to mention the drastic contrast in the chords themselves. The closer to the tonic one stays on the circle of fifths, the lesser the risk for such clashes.
This looks like an analysis of the instrumental chord choices, rather than vocal harmonies, but if a lot of the freshness of their music relied on risky harmonic choices (also described here in some detail), could they fall? Did they really screw up sometimes, or are we just talking about subjective responses to a little bit of dissonance -- I find it thrilling; you think it sounds like nails on a chalkboard.

Bonus for the boffins: Pollack on Love Me Do.
posted by maudlin at 1:27 PM on October 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


I adore the Beatles, of course, but I'm wondering, as a 45-year-old man, how their music makes me long to be a teenager again (even though I don't think I had that fab a time as one). Maybe it's because middle-age brings with it a longing to be an uber-teenager--to have all the advantages of youth with all of the hard-earned knowledge of being older. Anyway, listening to the Beatles always makes me both happy and wistful.
posted by maxwelton at 1:33 PM on October 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


One interesting thing to me is that while "All My Loving," for instance, takes me right back to the '60s, "I Want to Hold Your Hand" is just a good pop song—it's been overplayed to the point that it exists for me only as a cultural reference and not as a personal memory. (Oddly, this doesn't happen with Stones songs; "Satisfaction" is what it always was, a perfect blast of rock-and-roll energy that makes me want to shout and stomp.)
posted by languagehat at 1:52 PM on October 5, 2012


This looks like an analysis of the instrumental chord choices, rather than vocal harmonies

Maudlin, all those things apply to sounds. It matters little whether the source of the sounds is guitar strings, sodapop bottles, or human voices.

she said, their vocal harmonies were never quite right. To her ears, they were always a little out of key

The first order of business is to determine whether we're talking about their intonation in performance (hitting the note accurately) or harmonic choices in composition and arrangement (what notes they chose to combine to make a chord).

If something is 'out of key', it's not the harmonies (the notes intended to be sung), it's one or more of the individual voices not accurately hitting their note (missing the intended notes).

Missing the note happens all the time in pop music and is often allowed if the performance is otherwise a good one. That's what 'close enough for jazz' means.

Harmonies may be dissonant but that's not the same thing as out of key.

Some people with classical training and little experience with other musics may find either of these disqualifying.

So that's out of key versus dissonance.

Next up: voice-leading. That's how each of the voices gets from where they are now to the next chord (and how they sound together on the way there). Sophisticated but untrained pop musicians like the Beatles will use unconventional voice-leading. Perhaps an interval proscribed by accepted practice is briefly introduced. Again some people may be annoyed by this and find it amateurish.

Finally, timbre or color. The more complex the individual sounds, the harsher a complex chord will sound as all those sub-sounds at different frequencies crash into each other.

For this reason, genres that use a lot of distortion -- heavy metal for example -- generally are harmonically simpler (and often make up for it by offering melodic complexity via guitar solos).

The Beatles employed pretty much the full pallet of major, minor, diminished, augmented, sixths, ninths, dominant sevenths, major sevenths, minor sevenths . . .

Now consider voices with the qualities of Ringo Starr's raised in harmony, as against the bell-like tones of trained classical singers, and you can see how someone accoustomed to the latter might be appalled by the former.

One more thing: the Beatles employed lots of mutli-tracking, that it, singing a part, then rolling the tape back and singing the same part a second or even a third time to fatten up the sound. Mutli-tracking introduced slight imperfections in timing and intonation intentionally.

The automatic multi-tracker was essentially invented to accommodate John Lennon, because he resented the tedious process. Automatic multi-tracking uses the single performance, duplicates it electronically in real time, and again, intentionally introduces imperfections.

Dunno if that's appropriate for a 'five year old', but it's a start.
 
posted by Herodios at 2:52 PM on October 5, 2012 [3 favorites]


Herodios, that was brilliant. Thank you!

Yes, she literally said "out of key", but from what I can remember of our discussion, I think what she was describing was dissonance rather than a clanger here and there. And while she had some standard piano training when she was a kid, she loved all kinds of rock, jazz, soul, reggae and blues, so I think she should have been tolerant of unconventional voice-leading.

Probably what bothered her was that they unsophisticated but ambitious. If and when their ambitions occasionally fell short technically, she was turned off for good.
posted by maudlin at 3:36 PM on October 5, 2012


"...couldn't stand The Beatles at all because, she said, their vocal harmonies were never quite right. To her ears, they were always a little out of key..."

The Beatles challenged the conventions of pop music harmony, and pushed so hard, that in fact Paul had similar thoughts when they started to use the 'rock' flat-seventh chord much more in 1966:

"I was in Germany on tour just before Revolver came out. I started listening to the album and I got really down because I thought the whole thing was out of tune. Everyone had to reassure me that it was all okay."

This is also wrapped up with the issue of equal temperament vs modal-influenced singing - meaning that an individual note can be sung slightly differently in different contexts, even though you'll open the sheet music and it's the identical note. So the sound of the voices together can be 'wrong' to our ears, or (more usually with the Fabs), it can be supernaturally 'right' to our ears:

"In the third and fourth measure of the chorus of "Help!" the Beatles, for instance, sing a D that belongs to the G chord. In the fifth measure the same note is sung, this time accompanied by the E seventh. Though seemingly the same, both notes differ by nearly a quarter of a tonal distance, which the Beatles knew to catch perfectly."

Try this article for more:

http://www.icce.rug.nl/~soundscapes/VOLUME01/The_sound_of_the_Beatles.shtml
posted by colie at 1:04 AM on October 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Lend me your ears and I'll sing you a song, and I'll try not to sing out of key.
posted by Pallas Athena at 3:02 AM on October 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


she said, their vocal harmonies were never quite right.

she said, I know what it's like to be dead
I know what it is to be sad,
and she's making me feel like I've never been born
posted by flapjax at midnite at 3:31 AM on October 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


I remember once finding a website that was - the best I can describe it - a Beatle's "concordance"

Whoever put up the site had painstakingly reviewed each and every song.

This post by colie in this thread reminds me of that website.

Anyone else ever come across it? Is it still up?

posted by mmrtnt at 12:42 PM on October 8, 2012


Are you thinking of Alan W. Pollack's "Notes On .."?
posted by maudlin at 12:46 PM on October 8, 2012


(Pollack, previously.)
posted by maudlin at 12:51 PM on October 8, 2012


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