KEY G Major
FORM Intro -> Verse -> Verse -> Bridge -> Verse -> Break (solo) -> Bridge -> Verse -> Outro (w/complete ending)
GENERAL POINTS OF INTEREST
- George had been granted his first solo shot as a songwriter with "Don't Bother Me" way back on With The Beatles. Amazingly, he had to wait until this one for a second chance. It's up to the biographers to find out if this was the only other thing he had written since then, or if perhaps there is a plethora of "lost" Harrisongs that have been either surpressed, destroyed or are otherwise waiting to be unearthed by the perseveringly enterprising.
- In spite of its superficial resemblances to the Lennon&McCartney songs which surround it in context, YLMTM contains ample substance which attest to its belonging to George, only; especially in its chord progressions and the attitude of its lyrics.
- The form of the song also contains a number of formalistically distinctive earmarks: the apparently ad-lib/slow intro, the deployment of both a bridge and break, and the subtle manner in which verse and bridge ellide with each other in terms of both music and words.
- The entirety of the melody lies within a narrowly constricted range of only six notes; from G only up to E above it. The verse especially has a circular repetitiveness reminiscent of the kind of rut you can wear in a carpet from too much fretful nervous pacing.
- Furthermore, a falling scale fragment permeates the tune as a leitmotif in both verse and bridge. Seemingly by way of contrast, the break uses a chromatic scale fragment which both rises and falls. This chromatic idea also makes unifying appearances at the end of the bridge, as well as in the intro and outro.
- A larger than average number of chords are used here; six out the seven which appear naturally ("diatonically") in the home key (I through vi), plus flat-III, and a couple of secondary dominants (i.e. so-called "V-of..."s).
- But more so than the variety of chords per se, it is in their unusual sequencing that George's particular style is distinguished. The more typical pop song, whether influenced by blues, rock, folk or whatnot, is dominated by clearly teliological chord progressions that start from (and/or move steadily toward) such harmonically conspicuous goals as the tonic (I) or dominant (V). As a result, progressions which lie along the circle of fifths and involve root movement of a fifth upward or downward also typically predominate.
- In contrast, George demonstrates a prediliction for root movements that are stepwise or by thirds. He also likes to defer bringing things to a sense of climax or resolution, and even once he finally reaches the brink of such a payoff, we'll note a tendency for him to step away from it yet one more time; a musical technique and effect which uncannily matches and reflects the strong subtext of vague, ambivalent dissatisfaction which underlies so many of his lyrics.
- The choice of home key and the prominent role of the piano suggest at least a superficial connection between this song and the subject of our previous study, "Tell Me What You See". And indeed, these two songs were recorded at back-to-back sessions.
- The Steinway-reinforced electric piano part provides the song with a rhythmic hook by virtue of its relentless, syncopated accenting of the eighth note in between the second and third beats (on "two-AND"). The piano also freely embellishes many of the chords with added 6ths and 7ths, lending a sightly jazzy flavor to the backing.
- George is vocally double tracked in unison for start of each verse, with a second harmonizing vocal line (either Paul or George overdubbed) added for the title hook line and continuing through most of the bridge. The harmonization is primarily in parallel thirds though a Beatlesque open fourth occasionally is snuck in (e.g. on the final "you" in each verse).
- The intro only seems to be slow and out of tempo as an artifact of there being no percussion backbeat behind it. If you compare it carefully with the outro, in which the virtually identical phrase is recapitulated with backbeat, you'll discover the tempi of the two is quite close, with just a small amount of rubato applied to the intro.
- We start off with a drawn-out six measure phrase in which the home key is clearly defined before the song moves on to deal with less direct chord progressions:
|G |- |B-flat |D |G |- | G: I flat-III V I
- The use of flat-III right off the bat is unusual enough. When its F-natural is melodically sustained against the following D Major chord (with its concomitant F#) we have a small clash which just might be the most bluesy moment of the entire song.
- A lugubrious touch of reverb is applied in this short passage to one of the keyboard parts and some tremelo to the other one. The latter effect returns in both the break and and outro, but thankfully, the former one is not repeated elsewhere.
- The verse is sixteen measures long and contains four phrases equal in length. The first two phrases form a couplet followed by a bridge-like third phrase which leads to the closing title hook:
-------------- 2X -------------- |a |- |C |G || ii IV I |b |- |D |- ||G |C |D |- || iii V I IV V
- In spite of the plentiful supply of 'I' chords in this verse, the harmonic shape of the section is "open" on both ends; both starting and ending away from tonic. Furthermore, the setup of IV via ii and the setup of V via iii are examples of the kind of "weak" or "indirect" chord progressions that I described above as creating a sense of avoidance of harmonic closure.
- The demarcation of this bridge as a section distinct from the verses which adjoin it is singnificantly blurred by the flow of the lyrics. The opening bridge line ("I really do") follows seemlessly from the verse ending ("you like me too much and I like you"). Similarly, the ending of the bridge ("If you leave me") moves just as smoothly into the next verse ("I will follow you ...").
- The harmony here, being even more open-ended than the verse on both sides, helps support this sense of formal ellision. In addition, the large number of secondary dominants and some syncopation in the last couple measures create a semi-modulatory feeling of being less than securely grounded. You could parse it as an almost but not quite complete pivot modulation to the key of D except that the end of the section sounds so clearly like big windup on the V chord. Even so, note how the continuation with the next verse (starting on ii) winds up, true to form, leaving the resolution of this V chord deferred until later.
- As a result of all the above, this eight-measure section sounds much less four-square than it would appear to be on paper:
|e |- |A |- | iii V-of-V |b |A |E A |A D | ii V-of-V V-of-V-of-V V-of-V V
- The melody of this section fails to break the range barriers of the verse, though any potential side-effect of monotony caused by this is balanced out by the striking manner in which the opening of the section broadens out rhythmically.
- One other source of contrast in this bridge is the temporary addition of a tambourine to the backing track.
- The break is a very clever combination play of a 12-bar instrumental blues frame with the four-measure sung title hook phrase grafted on at the end.
- At cross-currents to the underlying blues form, the piano and lead guitar parts trade copycat chromatic scale riffs during the instrumental portion.
- The outro in introduced, so to speak, by yet one more petit-reprise of the ubiquitous title hook phrase.
- From there on, it's all a rehash of the intro except that this time it's accompanied by the steady support of yer droombeat.
SOME FINAL THOUGHTS
- The lyrics to this song seem to send a mixed message. I mean, if you were on the receiving end of them, would you be convinced in your core that George really "likes" you as unshakably as he professes, or would those reiterated accusations and the recounting of your past misdeeds tend to undermine his claim in your light blue eyes?
- On the one hand, we could debate all night the question of whether this kind of Harrisonian ambiguity is the result of artful design or unintended-yet-unavoidable awkwardness. But, then again, I'm reminded in this regard of a former boss who, when confronted over a bare-faced self-contradiction he had just made, responded that the difference between confusion of mind and complexity of mind or emotion is often merely the thinnest of gray hairs.
Alan (email@example.com OR uunet!huxley!awp)
"Oh, you can come off it with us." 110292#68
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