This week is beginning perfectly. It is sunny up here on Wingaersheek Beach in Gloucester. Thanksgiving was a great one in Massachusetts as we New England Patriots fans owe gratitude to the New York Jets for their comic ineptness on Thanksgiving evening – I’m calling it the Butt Bowl – and projects of mine are getting completed. And I’ve been invited to speak about my work in copyright and intellectual property at the Harvard Law School again. All good things.
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How can you get one’s attention? Play a Beatles recording. Play something loud and very noticeable. Maybe the intro to a Beatles song. If one wants to hear a loud, striking, very original opening of a Beatles song, one that will really hit the ear, there is one song that WILL not do it. It would be the WORST BEATLES SONG, worst only in terms of making a listener notice. What is the Beatles song LEAST likely to get one’s attention? “Eight Days A Week.” Remember how Eight Days A Week by The Beatles opens? It can be heard here Eight Days A Week by The Beatles or back in the last sentence.
It……………….f a d e s…..i n……..
shhhhhhh….shh….sh… and now you HEAR IT!
That was an amazing stunt way back in 1964. It was the first time I had heard a recording that faded in. Songs fading out were common but this fade-in was really fun and another innovation (of many) by the Beatles.
But the subject of this post is getting someone’s attention loudly and at the opening, and a Beatles song that does both. I want a song that is LOUD and NOTICEABLE and unlike any other Beatles song and I want the LOUD and NOTICEABLE and UNIQUE to happen immediately. Right at the opening.
The Beatles’ She’s A Woman is a song that is loud, distinctive and original at the opening. The song is notable for a few other reasons too. Structurally it is often a 12-bar blues (0.10-0.42; 0.43-1.14; 1.20-1.52), with an instrumental 6-bar blues (1.53-2.09), and two (2) 2-bar bridges – the first at 1.15-1.20, the second at 2.09-2.14. A 2-bar bridge, you say? And the 2-bar bridge contains the words, “she’s a woman.” !?! If the 2-bar bridge contains the title, “She’s A Woman,” wouldn’t it be a chorus and not a 2-bar bridge? In the words of Linda Richman… Talk amongst yourselves.
The opening of “She’s A Woman” features loud piano and guitar in unison playing the same staccato chords. When the bass and drums enter, it becomes clear that what the guitar and piano had been playing, what seemed like downbeats, were really upbeats! A very cool deceptive trick. A deception as to where you count 1, 2, 3 and 4. If you were dancing at the opening of the song, your dancing had to change a bit as your perception of the beat changed.
The opening chord – what one thought was the “tonic” chord, the most important, central chord, hierarchically, to all of the other chords – the “I chord” (pronounced, “One” chord) – was really the “V chord” (pronounced, “Five” chord), another fun deception.
I think that “She’s A Woman” was the first time the Beatles hinted at drug use. Three times in “She’s A Woman” Paul sings, “turn me on when I get lonely” – at 0.32, at 1.42 and finally at 2.36. It was not obvious in 1964-65 that “turn me on” referred to drug use, however. Some people knew this but “turn me on” was not yet in the public lexicon.
“My love don’t give me presents. I know that she’s no peasant.”
Huh? “Peasant?” I wish Paul hadn’t pursued the giving “presents” line as then he wouldn’t need a rhyme, and wouldn’t have to relate that he knows his woman is not a “peasant.” Of all the things I’ve ever heard ascribed to any woman, “peasant” has never been one!
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The Beatles amped up the strong, loud and cutting intro with the song, “Getting Better” from Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. The intro to The Beatles’ Getting Better features strong sforzando guitar and keyboard again but this time, in addition, the strings of the piano are struck with mallets to make it an even more brittle, piercing sound. Because “Getting Better” has such a distinctive and unique intro, it could be used or imitated for special effect.
I heard (and saw) a commercial a few years ago that I knew immediately was a strong reference to the opening of The Beatles’ Getting Better. This commercial is still running and can be heard frequently on U. S. television stations, and as of last week, I have finally been able to find it on YouTube. Do you know the commercial to which I refer?
I’ll discuss it tomorrow. To me, this commercial is the essence of “reference” and “referencing” music, an important practice in contemporary advertising.