Tuesday, June 28, 2005

I, Too, Am Glad That She's My Little Girl

Making Light kids -- Many thanks to Teresa for linking to me! If you like what you see in this post, you might like to check out How to Write an Earworm (about an Andy Partridge obscurity that will blow your mind), Things Apall a Fart (Paul McCartney's marvelously subversive -- yes, I said subversive! -- Super Bowl appearance), and Jesus Christ I Love Junk, about the Wonders' fictional Beatlesque hit "That Thing You Do." If obscure Civil War Psychos float your boat, check the John Mobberly Story on my main page. It's in the right column. You'll be glad you did.

Today's Best pre-1967 Beatles Song That Isn't "She Loves You" or "I Want to Hold Your Hand":

(Drumroll please!)

"I Feel Fine."

Thank you very much.

(Don't feel bad about streaming it; I'll count the hits on the logs and send a check to Paulie, Rings, Yoko and Olivia.)


First feedback on a record, sez Holy Saint Lennon Martyr, although Pete Townsend, who in late '64 was already blasting audience eardrums with it in the clubs (clubs, it needn't be pointed out, that Dr. O'Boogie attended avidly), might clear his throat and quietly point t0 "Anyway Anyhow Anywhere." We'll let Winston have this one. He's dead and Pete mostly isn't.

There's actually two sounds going on in there, first Paul plunks an A on the bass, then Johnny follows up with the feedback. It's a slightly tricky thing, you have to mute all the strings with your picking palm except the one you want to vibrate, and you don't get it right every time. And it's a cute little 1964 stereo trick George Martin pulls off, panning bass & drums left and guitars right so that the bonggg happens over here and the nyyyaaaaaww comes in over there, and vocals center. Boy knew what he was doing.

And that riff! That riff! This one'll separate the men from the boys. As BeatleSongs go, it's not a particularly sophisticated thing theoretically -- just fist-chords at D, C and G -- but the pinkie work turns it into a real wrist-melter, along about the 1:30 mark. You'll know you're a warrior, my son, a rock-and-roll patriot, when you can keep that sucker up for the duration. Thing you've got to listen for is George, who plays some amazingly subtle stuff. Compare the first phrase of the opening riff to the third phrase. George isn't there at the start, but he comes in shortly afterward, playing on the low strings. By the last phrase, just before the vocal starts, they're doubling. George's supporting playing becomes easier to hear in the fade. Listen carefully to the interplay between the two all the way through, and especially during the solo. It's some of the best guitar playing on a Beatles record.

(D'you know, I could swear I saw a bit of the Anthology where John was playing "I Feel Fine" live with a plugged-in acoustic? Do any of the rest of you remember that? I might have to go home and dig it up... If so, that'd explain the feedback!)

So, yeah, killer guitar work, sure, that helps. But what really sends this one into the stratosphear is the chorus, the way the three Beatlevoices (George low, John middle, Paul high) mingle with that cruddy Sixties reverb on "I'm so glad/That she's my little girl!" while Ringo Bernard Purdie leaves off the wacky Latin beat and kicks it into splashy four-on-the-floor rock and roll. Pure, distilled sunshiny 1964 joy, man. Bottle it up and sell it on Sullivan.

More Ringo Bernard: Check the ratty little fill he plays when coming back into the Latin beat at 0:54. The drumming's just great throughout.

Try this on for size: When Paul mentions "diamond rings" in a song, you don't want to fault him for being lazy because he's working his ass off selling the song. When Lennon does it, you know it's from pure, unalloyed laziness -- something he was always flirting with. Lennon's heart really isn't in this song, because we know he's about to start succumbing to the depression that always stalked him.

Released in late 1964, "I Feel Fine" is pretty much the last uncomplicated, sunny boy-girl song to come from Lennon for the rest of his Beatle career. On next year's Beatles for Sale we'll get anger ("No Reply"), self-hatred ("I'm a Loser"), self-pity ("I Don't Want to Spoil the Party"), an Edgar Allen Poe cop ("Yes It Is"), and on into "Help," "You've Got to Hide your Love Away," and so on. "Ticket to Ride"? Not really sunny, is it? And in the later periods, when the matter comes up at all, it trends into the creepily heroin-soaked and infantile: think "Julia," "Don't Let Me Down," "I Want You (She's So Heavy)."

But sometimes you really, really need that Moptop Joy. And at that point you can do worse than to throw on "I Feel Fine."


Anonymous said...

Amen, brudda! Check out the little flash video on the 1 site, if it's still up. *JOY*

Linkmeister said...

I'm confused. I just looked at Purdie's website and don't see a performance with the Beatles at all. Whuffo you say that he drummed on this?

Neddie said...

Linkster: Bit of an inside joke chez Neddie.

Purdie has claimed that he was hired as a session drummer during at least the first half of the Fabs career (see, e.g., the argument archived here for a recap -- be sure to read to the end for a pretty convincing debunking of Purdie's claims.)

But the reason it's an inside joke here is that Bobby Lightfoot frequently comments here in the guise of Purdie -- to pretty goddamned amusing effect.

Just my way of sayin' hi.

Linkmeister said...

Ah. Thanks for clearing that up. The newsgroup article is pretty definitive too, and it appears that he's stopped claiming it judging from the discography on the website.

I was about to raise hell on behalf of Ringo.

Anonymous said...

"Paul plunks an A on the bass" my ass. That was me.

The Viscount LaCarte said...

"Released in late 1964, "I Feel Fine" is pretty much the last uncomplicated, sunny boy-girl song to come from Lennon for the rest of his Beatle career."

What about "Run For Your Life?"

Neddie said...

Well, I don't know much about your relationship with the Viscountess, but I think she might disagree that

Well I know that I'm a wicked guy
And I was born with a jealous mind
And I can't spend my whole life
trying just to make you toe the line

You better run for your life if you can, little girl
Hide your head in the sand little girl
Catch you with another man
That's the end'a little girl

Let this be a sermon
I mean everything I've said
Baby, I'm determined
And I'd rather see you dead

is uncomplicated and/or sunny!

Me, I'd call it borderline psychotic.

The Viscount LaCarte said...


Anonymous said...

Oh Neddie, but you sure know how to do up them Beatles right -- loved it!

Neddie said...

The Viscount was kidding.
The Viscount was kidding.
The Viscount was kidding.
The Viscount was kidding.
The Viscount was kidding.The Viscount was kidding.The Viscount was kidding.The Viscount was kidding.The Viscount was kidding.The Viscount was kidding.The Viscount was kidding.The Viscount was kidding.

The Viscount was kidding.

The Viscount.................

was kidding.

Bobby Lightfoot said...

Ab-so-fucking-lootely the coolest Beatles song of that period. My favorite period, in fact. No question. Also, "Beatles '65" is perhaps the only Capitol cutup release that is cooler than its Parlophone parents.

-great, imaginative, stinking-with-life ripoff of the Genesis of these guys' Bible Of Music, "What'd I Say".

-try playing that god damn lick LEFTY. Man, those guitar tones. Pure matching AC30's. And yeah, that great mono plate reverb. Yum. In the '60's they even often panned the dry voice left and the pure reverb right. "Stereo just like the Yanks".

-The way the harmony breaks from the two voices accompanying the lead to "aaah"'s on "she's my little girl". Tasty. And the couplings on "She's in love with me..." Tasty. Very "I Wanna Be Your Man" with them parallel triadies.


Hot little betty that Carol in the day.

Bernard actually played drums on Steely Dan's "Babylon Sisters" believe it or not, which is just the smoothest, ghost-note haunted, Steve Gadd-early-80's-ain't-we-tasty performance going.
Crazy. And it's not credited in his discography on his website.

Not that I've ever gone there, of course.

Anonymous said...

Hi Neddie --

My son thinks your site is cool -- he wanted me to tell you that he likes this Paul/John photo -- and the song is cool too.

Then he saw Trillin's photo and said: "Hey, this guy is a noob."

"What's a noob?" I asked innocently, like the completely out of touch mom of a teenager that I've turned into.

"He's been pwned. He's a noob. Like when you get booked in school, you go, hey I pwned you, you noob!"

Ok -- well, that cleared it up for sure.

Also, he told me to go to a pwned website -- and I did -- and now I've got to go have a little with him about this site, as it is very scary!

Anonymous said...

Me again. Just wanted to let you know that I just went into my son's room and he just put the Abbey Road cover up as his screensaver.

You are such a good influence!

julia said...

Hey. Hey.

Who you calling creepily heroin-soaked and infantile?


Neddie said...

BlueGirl: That JohnPaul pic is a knockout ain't it? I don't generally swing that way, but I can see how a 1964 teeniebopper might go a little non-linear at those two.

Your kid sounds like he's gonna be pretty cool. Try him on the Kinks Kontroversy -- or get him the Rhino Nuggets 2 box set -- "Psychedelia from the British Empire and Beyond." One of the most wonderful things I own, I recommend it to anybody interested in the Fabs and their legacy.

Julia: Sairtainly not you, luv!

Nancy said...

My favourite Beatles tune has always been "Tell Me Why", but I would rank "I Feel Fine" a close second.

Neddie said...

Nancy: Notice how the title of my post was "Today's" Best Beatles song, etc...?

That's because there's always a tomorrow, and "Tell Me Why" is a very, very likely candidate indeed to be "Today's Best Beatles Song," etc.... tomorrow.

I love that one just irrationally. Its turn just hansn't come up yet.

Nancy said...

I did indeed miss the key word "Today's". Apologies for the oversight, and I look forward to the next installment.

The Viscount LaCarte said...

I've always thought that "Tell Me Why" was a textbook Beatles' song. I never ever tire of hearing it!

Other candidates:

"There's A Place," "It Won't Be Long," "This Boy," (John proves he is the best rock singer of all time) "Don't Bother Me," "I'll Be Back," "No Reply," "You're Gonna Lost That Girl," (the "video" from help defines "cool") "We Can Work it Out," "You Won't See Me (Ooo la la la)" "Think For Yourself," "Paperback Writer," "For No One," "She Said She Said," "Getting Better," "Baby You're a Rich Man," (Tuned to a Natural Eeeeeee) "Revolution #1," "Martha My Dear," "Dig A Pony," "Here Comes The Sun," "Sun King" (aka "Dark Side of the Moon"

How is it possible that they were so damned good?

Anonymous said...

Okay, so I had to go home last night and listen to some Beatles. Just to make it quick and easy I threw in "1" which includes "I Feel Fine." Of course, I listened to the whole thing. You just get caught up in it. You hear the opening of "Day Tripper" and that's it - you're gone.

Anonymous said...

I'll name that tune in one note -- Day Tripper! Fuhgeddaboutit. It's the precise moment the Fab Module decided the Moon was too gauche and embarked on Mars instead.

Anonymous said...

"I Feel Fine" is uber pop in every way. The little high-hat jingle throughout the song in counterpoint to the riffing guitar is just magic. It marked the closing of an era and a period of stasis and experimentation until "Ticket to Ride".

Now *that* is one crooked song.

Both put a lie to the notion that Ringo was anything but an inspired drummer.