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

Sunday, November 15, 2009

#55: No Reply

Written by: John Lennon & Paul McCartney
December 4, 1964
Appears on: Beatles For Sale

Lead vocal: John

"This happened once before
When I came to your door...
No reply..."

And thus begins the most powerful trilogy of songs to open an album. The needle drops on the first band and there is no introduction, nothing. Just John..."This happened once before..."
"No Reply" is not just another John song where he seeks our pity because he knows he has lost his girl. He goes even further - revealing that he has been stalking this girl and has found out that she is seeing another man. In fact, this is a complete story. The singer realizes that the relationship is over by the end of the song. The last verse is most telling to this idea. He is in so much pain that he sings "I nearly died! I nearly died/'Cause you walked hand in hand/With another man/In my place!"
The song not only reveals that the Beatles are looking far more inward than any other pop/rock group did in 1964, but also that their recording techniques had taken leaps and bounds in the just-over-a-year time period between "Love Me Do" and Beatles For Sale. John's vocal is double-tracked throughout the entire song. John and George play acoustic guitars. George Martin adds piano. Paul adds the higher harmony parts. Ringo's drumming is getting more unconventional ("No reply!" CRASH! "No reply!" BANG!).
The Beatles are getting better and "No Reply", the opening song on Beatles For Sale, is one hell of a way to show it.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

#54: She's A Woman

Written by: John Lennon & Paul McCartney
November 27, 1964
Appears on: Past Masters, Vol. 1

Lead vocal: Paul

Remember back when I said Little Richard was a huge influence on the Beatles? That might have been an understatement.
"She's A Woman", which was the B-Side to "I Feel Fine", was Paul's first 'Little Richard' song. It's definitely a fun song, with a pretty basic tune and lyrics. It is the first appearance of "turn me on" in a song, but Paul uses the phrase so innocently, that the drug reference might have slipped. You know, somehow "Turn me on when I get lonely" is OK, but "I'd love turn you on" is a no-no, but that's neither here nor there.
This is also a song that proves that Paul could do a knock-out rock vocal just as well as John on his own song. John wasn't the only one who wrote rockers, and "She's A Woman" certainly proves it.
"She's A Woman" was performed during the '65 tour. It appeared on Beatles '65 in the US, but didn't appear on a UK album until 1978's Rarities.

Next up: Beatles For Sale!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

#53: I Feel Fine

Written by: John Lennon & Paul McCartney
Released: November 27, 1964
Appears on: Past Masters, Vol. 1
Lead vocal: John

"I Feel Fine" has another one of those out-of-left-field openings. This is three years before Jimi Hendrix would explode onto the stage, toying with guitar feedback as if it was just another noise a guitar was supposed to make.
Of course, nobody had put that sound on record, that is, until "I Feel Fine". The feedback intro isn't the only great thing about the song, though. It really is a wonderful track, filled with a lot of energy that makes it the perfect single. Sure, it's driven by a single guitar riff by John (meaning that he's actually the dominant guitar on this song), but there's something good about hearing a happy, straight-up love song from John.
Another thing about "I Feel Fine" is that it truly needed to be released as a single only. It really wouldn't fit on Beatles For Sale, whose originals are much more personal than this joyous track. "Eight Days A Week" was going to be the Christmas single, but "I Feel Fine" came out of nowhere. How do make the decision of "Eight Days A Week" or "I Feel Fine"? Personally, I like the decision. The song is a totally different beat than anything on Beatles For Sale and would have stuck out like a sore thumb.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

#52: I'll Be Back

Written by: John Lennon & Paul McCartney
July 10, 1964
Appears on: A Hard Day's Night

Lead vocal: John

A Hard Day's Night ends with the most obvious promise the Beatles could give: that they'll be back.
"I'll Be Back", which on the surface is just a song about a guy who assures his love that he'll be back even if she breaks his heart, seems to be a lot more than that. I think it's an important part of Beatles history because it really proves that these guys were thinking in terms of albums already, at a time when everything was just singles. Albums were supposed to be just a random collection of songs, with hardly any structure. Here, though, on their first 100% original record*, they care about the sequence. You can't tell me with a straight face that the group for once thought that "I'll Be Back" would not be the end of the album.
"I'll Be Back" is the Beatles being prophetic in that they will be back and they'll be sticking around. Of course, the immediate truth is that they'd be back in three months time with another fantastic single and in four months with an LP more introspective than a pop group in 1964 had any right to be.

*I haven't mentioned this before, but A Hard Day's Night really is the first album by a pop group to be fully written by members of the band. It was virtually inconceivable in 1964 for an album to actually read "WORDS & MUSIC BY JOHN LENNON & PAUL McCARTNEY".

Next is, of course, "I Feel Fine" b/w "She's A Woman" and Beatles For Sale and, in case you're wondering, here is "You Can't Do That".

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

#51: When I Get Home

Written by: John Lennon & Paul McCartney
July 10, 1964
Appears on: A Hard Day's Night

Lead vocal: John

I guess when I said that with the beatles was the last appearance of that 'girl-group' infatuation...I lied.
"When I Get Home" is essentially a girl-group song, written by John. Personally, this is the one song on the album I really don't like. Sure, it's not on the level of "Hold Me Tight", but it's certainly not one of the group's finer moments.
I've always thought the lyrics were kind of interesting. For example, John uses the word "trivialities" in the second verse, which goes:
Come on, if you please,
I got no time for trivialities;
I've got a girl who's waiting home for me tonight!
I'm sorry, but who uses that word in a pop song?
Anyway, the song does feature some fantastic group harmonies, but as I noted before, it's not that great. "When I Get Home" is definitely the most forgettable moment on A Hard Day's Night.