KEY A Major METER 4/4 FORM Intro -> Verse -> Verse -> Bridge -> Verse -> Bridge -> Verse -> Outro (fadeout)
GENERAL POINTS OF INTEREST
- This is very much a typical Hari-song; replete with a hard and high anxiety in the lyrics that is further manifested in the musical fabric by dissonance, both harmonic and rhythmic. We're talking about *serious* illness of ease.
- Harmonically, we have that persistent, somewhat mechanical (not to say *irritating* :-))harping on the E minor 9th chord in the piano, and rhythmically, there's those slow triplets, especially in the opening bassline ostinato, which create lots of challenging friction against the 4/4 backbeat. The lyrics, I hope, speak for themselves.
- There's also a touch of the exotic, saved for the very end, where it is sung out by, what sounds to my ears like, Paulie, of all people!
- The verse tune opens with a jumpy pentatonic pair of phrases, though the remainder of it, as well as the bridge tune, is balanced out by completely step-wise motion.
- The home key of the song is A Major throughout, established by a frugal budget of chords. However, the guitar ostinato that pervades the song contains, embedded within it, what I always refer to as the "Hey Jude" progression (I-flat VII-IV-I), and this adds a modal flavor to the procedings.
- The other unusual harmonic feature is the off-center prominence given to chords that have the note 'B' on the bottom.
- The opening guitar riff is one of those all-time great ostinato patterns that sets the tone of the whole song right from the start. In contrast to the outstretched melodic arch of the "Day Tripper" figure, this one is much more of a "sawtooth" pattern, in the style of "Taxman." Note, here, the hard and reiterated floor on 'A,' the repeated downward arpeggios in slow triplets, and the *hard* syncopation which places the origin of the pattern just before the downbeat.
- The rest of the ensemble tends to play in a contrastingly groovy beat in which beats 2 and 4 are syncopatedly emphasized, and rapid triplets fill the spaces between phrases. The most interesting moments in the song are where this more swinging beat is superimposed, rather uneasily, over the agitated slow triplets of the ostinato.
- We have a double-tracked lead vocal backed for bold-italic emphasis on the even-numbered phrases of the verse; shades of the syncopated beat on 2 and 4!
- And of course, they were seemingly *never* too busy to add those fussy little touches for the percussion section; check out the rattlesnake marracas at the end of each verse, the patterning of the tambourine swats in the bridge, and the hand claps saved for the final verse.
- The last time I can recall a fade-in opening in a Beatles song before this one goes all the way back to "Eight Days A Week," though you could argue that the mock disorganized opening of "Taxman." is a "logical" fade-in of sorts.
- You become conscious of the music in the midst of the ostinato figure played out on only low strings of the lead guitar. The intro continues with three complete iterations of the ostinato, with other instruments making a staggered entrance: piano and drums come in on the second repeat, followed by the marracas and bass guitar.
- In spite of the steady 4/4 backbeat of this verse, your ears do not easily grok it for a couple of reasons; in particular, the unusual eleven-measure length, and the manner in which the four vocal phrases, unequal in length, are rhetorically declaimed to neither start or end neccessarily at measure boundaries.
- And, as if that weren't enough, we also have the change of chord in the middle of measure 4; a move that is IMHO *very* sophisticated.
- The sneak reprise of the ostinato to fill the space between verses is a classic unifying gesture.
- The bridge is eight measures long, and though it's much closer to four-square than the verse, (and well needed contrast to it by this point of the song) here too, we have three short phrases rhetorically suspended over the measure lines.
- Harmonically, this bridge is a bit of a fakeout, seeming at first to hint of a possible excursion away from the home key, but in the end, all we get is a rather restless-yet-indecisive kind of chromatic leaning away from the A Major chord and back to it; a feeling quite resonant with the affect of the lyrics. It's not really appropriate to give a whole lot of different roman numerals to all those different chords with B in the bassline; trust me, you will find a study of the creepy motion of the inner voices, as I've outlined them above, well worth the effort. The non-obvious call I'd make here is to name the diminished chord in mm. 2 and 6 a vii-dimininshed (a surrogate for V), with the root on G#, in spite of the B on the bottom.
- Note too, the way the 9->8 motif of the piano part from the verse is echoed, in part, by the number of 9->8 appoggiaturas in the vocal part of this bridge. You might also say that the 3->4->3 figure at the end of the section is resonant with something implied in the opening ostinato.
- And if you feel the momentum beginning to sag toward the end of this section, dig how that sudden burst of rapid triplets at the very end of the bridge helps to re-jump-start your momentum for the verse that follows.
- The outro is a cross between a varied reprise of the into, and a one-two-thre-GO! style of fadeout ending.
- When the final verse ends, we are treated to three iterations of the ostinato figure, alternating this time with a repeat of the closing tag line by the full vocal forces. The last repeat features Paul bursting out into a surprisingly free Indian-flavored melissma reminsicent, say, of the sitar solo in "Love You To." This might seem out of place, or at least gratuitous, if it were not for George's having used as a motif throughout the song, that also very Indian-like slow melodic slide toward the end of the title phrase (on the words, "tell you.")
SOME FINAL THOUGHTS
- In spite of his well known covers of Beatles songs, it's not often that I am struck by any similarities between Jimi Hendrix' work and that of Our Boys. In this case, though, I find myself unavoidably free-associating from "I Want to Tell You" to Jimi's own "Manic Depression." Yes, I do.
- "I feel hung up and I don't know why" pushes the same buttons in me, for whatever elusive reasons, as "I know what I want but I just don't know (how to go about getting it.") Of course, Jimi's song is a *lot* more hyper and "out" there, compared to George's. But is it, though?
Regards, Alan (firstname.lastname@example.org) --- "I'll make you, maybe, next time around." 032795#101 --- Copyright (c) 1995 by Alan W. Pollack All Rights Reserved
Click here to return to AWP's index.