Saturday, January 5, 2013

In Love for the First Time

Original Facebook post here.
Today's formative-album replay: Hey Jude. In trying to get my head around the enormity of the Beatles canon and its unaccountable impact on me, and looking for a fresh angle on it, I decided to go back to one of the handful of their records that first made its way into my life via my sixth grade friend David Rigberg. If it's true that we now think of them almost entirely in terms of albums--indeed, we credit them for inventing the album-as-a-unified-whole, an arguable concept but one which admittedly gives my daily listening project here its frame--it's also true that the abundance of their output couldn't be, and wasn't, constrained by this frame. This motley, record label-assembled collection of (mostly) non-album singles and B-sides, spanning just five-plus years and spackling over huge gaps in their development, is all the more mind-boggling when you think of the non-album tracks it doesn't include ("Day Tripper," "We Can Work It Out," "Strawberry Fields," "Penny Lane").

Coming back again to this almost random sampler, I'm struck by how liberating it is to hear these songs as just songs rather than as interwoven pieces of an album patchwork, and I even suspect that some of that freedom-from-concept infused their creation. On which Beatles album, for instance, would the chiming haze of "Rain" fit? Or the arresting intimacy, rising to a sweaty thunder, of "Hey Jude"? Or the sparky country shuffle of "Ballad of John and Yoko"? I could go on. I almost like to think these songs had to wind up on this collection because no album could contain them.

Cinco Paul Switch out Revolution 9 for Hey Jude on the White Album and you just might get awesomeness. Maybe.
David Barbour The first time I ever heard the song "Hey Jude," it was performed by the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show, and it was a moment of pure bliss. The performance was videotaped. The rest of the show, which was live, was a Beatles tribute. Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme sang "Can't Buy Me Love," with altered lyrics. Steve, gazing at Eydie, sang, "I'll buy you a diamond ring like the one Dick bought of Liz." This was followed by the Muppets, doing "Octopus' Garden." It was indescribable.
Rob Weinert-Kendt @David, is all that on tape somewhere? That sounds amazing.
David Barbour I don't know. Some of the Sullivan stuff is available, but mostly the Broadway show cuts. Try YouTube.
Rob Weinert-Kendt I've realized that the hook that grabs the ear from the beginning is that yearning suspended chord Paul hits so beautifully on the word "song" ("take a sad song"). It's an F over a C7, and it just sucks you into tune's tension-and-release like a vacuum. The rest of the melody is shaped beautifully, too.

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