Welcome to "Every Little Thing", a blog discussing all 214 songs released by the Beatles from 1962 to 1970....by Daniel Seth Levine.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

#124: Fixing A Hole

Written by: John Lennon & Paul McCartney
Released: June 1, 1967
Appears on: Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
Lead vocal: Paul 

If Paul has one strength (among at least thousands) it is writing songs about people who are insane - or at least being driven to insanity. "Fixing A Hole" is one of those. The track is pretty simple and straightforward - the singer really can't stand all the people going to his home and annoying him, just like any rock star in the most famous band in the world should be. I love the bridge section: "And it really doesn't matter if I'm wrong/I'm right/Where I belong, I'm right/Where I belong!" It just seems kind of perfect.  
One of the hidden gems of the song - in fact, probably of all of Sgt. Pepper, are the backing vocals by John and George. It took me a long time to notice them and the pop out pretty clearly on the remastered CD. Aside from George Martin's harpsichord and the fact that John plays no instruments on the track, it is very straightforward, compared even to "Getting Better". 
"Fixing A Hole" certainly is not one of the major pieces of Sgt. Pepper but it just would not feel right if it wasn't included. One has to admit that it makes a nice little link from "Getting Better" to the next, more serious track.
The release history for "Fixing A Hole" is slim. You can only find the track on Sgt. Pepper, although Paul continues to bring the song out on his shows.     

Saturday, September 11, 2010

OK, people, I don't want anyone to think I have abandoned this, but classes at Hofstra have now started. I'm also interning at PCMag, so chances I might even be able to do this once a week are slim. If I get an opportunity, I'll take it, so watch out for random updates popping up.
Thanks for your patience, readers!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

#123: Getting Better

Written by: John Lennon & Paul McCartney
Released: June 1, 1967
Appears on: Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
Lead vocal: Paul 

When you start looking at the Sgt. Pepper's songs separately, you realize how great a rock - rather than psychedelic - LP it really is.
"Getting Better" is probably the only song that could have fit on an earlier Beatles record, aside from George's use of the Indian tambura. It is obviously the first truly Lennon/McCartney song on the album. John's major contribution to the song is the backing vocals. It's getting better all the time - Can't get no worse... That's John all the way. John also may have contributed to I used to be cruel to my woman. I beat her and kept her away from the things that she loved. It seems highly unlikely that cutesy Paul could have written such a line, although you never know. Maybe Paul thought of it as another way to hide his own persona, keeping in mind that these songs are performed by The Lonely Hearts Club Band, not the Beatles. 
On Sgt. Pepper's, "Getting Better" is surrounded by so many more important songs that it's easy for it to get lost in the shuffle, but it remains a favorite of mine that I'm happy Paul got around to doing live. It's a great way to lift your spirits when you're feeling down, but has never been issued anywhere else.         

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

#122: Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds

Written by: John Lennon & Paul McCartney
Released: June 1, 1967
Appears on: Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
Lead vocal: John

"Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds" has turned into one of the least understood Beatles songs, fueled by the persistent myth that the nouns in the title purposefully spell out LSD. This is not the case - the truth is a lot more innocent than that. Julian, John's son, came home with a drawing of a friend in school, which he called 'Lucy in the sky with diamonds'. Thus, the inspiration for "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds" was born. I can't tell you how many times, as a Beatles fan, that I've had to correct people about that. 
Anyway, the song itself is really the first true psychedelic song on the album, featuring a trippy intro played by Paul on a Lowrey organ that really feels like you're descending into someone's imagination. George gets lead and acoustic guitar parts. Ringo plays a fantastic drum part (probably his best on the album). Surprisingly, even though he is the singer, John only plays guitar on the track, sharing lead duties with George. I really love John's double-tracked vocal here. It's really dream-like and adds to the whole atmosphere of the song. 
The lyrics are perfect stuff about really nothing but images and a series of visions. It feels more like John is describing a painting than a real event. I still want to know what it's like to ride in a newspaper taxi, though. 
The song was never released as a single, although Elton John's tastefully done cover (on which John appears) reached #1 in 1975. The Beatles' original has appeared on 1967-1970 and remixed on the Yellow Sumbarine Songtrack. As an animation buff, I still marvel at the "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds" sequence. It's probably the finest sequence in the film and one the highlights of 1960's animation.      
I really love this song. It's got to be a great example of how the Beatles never lost their taste for straight-up rock 'n' roll even as a studio-bound band. 

Thursday, July 1, 2010


I'm going to take a little break for the Independence Day weekend and will be back on Tuesday, continuing with Sgt. Pepper's.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

#121: With A Little Help From My Friends

Written by: John Lennon & Paul McCartney
Released: June 1, 1967
Appears on: Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
Lead vocal: Ringo

"With A Little Help From My Friends" has become Ringo's signature song - the one he has to perform at every show. (I've seen him do it twice and it's always fun.) The song was born as "Bad Finger Boogie" and probably the easiest track to record on the album. The only strange instrument on the track is John's cowbell (which is the only instrument he plays on the track). George Martin adds a Hammond organ part and Paul puts in a piano part. George is on lead guitar and Ringo, of course, plays drums and tambourine. 
Paul wrote the tune and Ringo always loves to tell the story about What would you do if I sang out of tune? Would you stand up and throw tomatoes at me? Ringo himself felt it necessary to change it  to stand up and walk out on me (although, I think the fact that tomatoes was just one too many syllables didn't help the line). 
The back-up harmonies are also great. It turns the song into a hilarious 'call-and-response' spoof. The lyrics just add to the hilarity. There is nothing - absolutely nothing - funnier than What do you see when you turn out the light? I can't tell you, but I know it's mine.
In Paul's Sgt. Pepper dream world, Ringo plays "Billy Shears", singing this happy-go-lucky song. It's funny that the previous song seems to frame the role as the lead singer of this imaginary band, but he's played by a guy who was lucky to be able to get one song on an album. That's just another one of those Beatle in-jokes, I think. 
Since its first appearance on Sgt. Pepper's, the track has always appeared attached to the title track. Nowhere else in the Beatles catalog have two songs been so connected. There has never been an officially released fade-in mix, although making one yourself is pretty easy these days. So, the release history is the same as the title track and you can check the post on that song. 
Even on the radio, you'll never hear the two separated. It's much like radio's insistence on never separating Queen's "We Will Rock You/We Are The Champions".
In 1968, the song got some big attention as Joe Cocker's first hit on his first album. It's radically different and actually pretty good, but I'll always appreciate Ringo's sweet, innocent original more.        

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

#120: Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band

Written by: John Lennon & Paul McCartney
Released: June 1, 1967
Appears on: Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
Lead vocal: Paul

"It was twenty years ago today, Sergeant Pepper taught the band to play. They've been going in and out of style, but they're guaranteed to raise a smile. So let me introduce to you, the act you've known for all these years! SERGEANT PEPPER'S LONELY HEARTS CLUB BAND!!!!!!!"

After you drop the needle on side one, the first thing you hear is crowd noise before Paul's lead guitar comes screaming onto the stereo. Then, Paul's screaming vocal comes on, inviting all the listeners to relax, sit down and listen to some fantastic music. 
The title track for the album that ended up defining a decade is easily the simplest song on the record. There is no technical wizardry beyond George Martin's use of the crowd noise. Paul plays bass and lead guitar. John's on rhythm and George adds a third guitar part. Ringo plays drums. So, beyond the standard, there is a group of session musicians adding French horns. 
"Sgt. Pepper's..." does exactly what it sets out to do, acting as an introduction to the world's most famous fake band. I've always loved Paul's idea to 'tour the album' rather than the band, making the album as a show within itself. However, the idea that this is a 'concept album' is wrong. There is no overall concept within the songs. Rather, the concept is that we are listening to a show, so the album is sequenced as if it was one. Most of the songs don't end in a fade and those that do are followed by less than half-a-second of silence before the next song starts.
If it is possible to call a song on one of the best selling albums in the world underrated, the fact is that this song is. Everyone knows how great a pop record Sgt. Pepper's is, but songs like the title tack prove that the Beatles never forgot what they really were: a great rock band. 
Strangely enough, "Sgt. Pepper's..." has made appearances outside of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band...always attached to the next song, of course. The two appeared on 1967-1970, then remixed on the Yellow Submarine Songtrack. In 1978, EMI issued a "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band/With A Little Help From My Friends" b/w "A Day In The Life" to cash-in on Robert Stigwood's Sgt. Pepper's film. The 45 hit #63 in the UK and #71 in the US.