Results for “straussian beatles”
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Straussian Beatles, Paul McCartney solo edition

One thing I’ve always enjoyed about Paul is his willingness to be a plain, flat outright snot about other people.  Did you see lately when he called the Rolling Stones “a blues cover band”?  Not wrong!  Ever listen to the lyrics of “Another Girl“?

Anyway, if you paw through the Ram album you will find some real daggers.  “Dear Boy,” for instance, is Paul mocking Linda’s ex-husband, here are some lyrics:

I guess you never knew, dear boy, what you have found,
I guess you never knew, dear boy,
That she was just the cutest thing around,
I guess you never knew what you have found,
Dear boy.

I guess you never knew, dear boy,
That love was there.
And maybe when you look to hard, dear boy,
You never do become aware,
I guess you never did become aware,
Dear boy.

When i stepped in, my heart was down and out,
But her love came through and brought me ’round,
Got me up and about…

I hope you never know, dear boy,
How much you missed.
And even when you fall in love, dear boy,
It won’t be half as good as this.
I hope you never know how much you missed,
Dear boy, how much you missed

Maybe it’s OK to take public stabs at your new wife’s ex-husband (is it?), but keep in mind Paul was raising the guy’s daughter at the time.  What did she think?  Or maybe up in that Scottish farm she just never listened to Ram, or this song.  Paul himself has admitted the underlying meaning in radio interviews.  The guy, by the way, committed suicide — woe unto him who is attacked by Paul McCartney!

Brian Wilson, by the way, was a big admirer of the voices and harmonies on that one, here is the cut.

Gentler but still cutting is “Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey“.  It’s Paul’s account of why he has not been calling “the rellies” back home, namely because they are too boring and too removed from the reality of his life.  Paul is reporting (sarcastically) that his life is too boring to have anything to say to the guy:

We’re so sorry, uncle Albert
We’re so sorry if we caused you any pain
We’re so sorry, uncle Albert
But there’s no one left at home
And I believe I’m gonna rain

We’re so sorry, but we haven’t heard a thing all day
We’re so sorry, uncle Albert
But if anything should happen
We’ll be sure to give a ring

We’re so sorry, uncle Albert
But we haven’t done a bloody thing all day
We’re so sorry, uncle Albert
But the kettle’s on the boil
And we’re so easily called away

Of course he really did have an Uncle Albert, and I bet he didn’t call much.  Can you blame him?  This interpretation, by the way, comes from Paul himself, many years later on satellite radio.

“Too Many People” — the paradigmatic Macca Straussian song deserves a post of its own.  It has more passive-aggressive references to John Lennon than are usually reported.

And that is all just on one album!  Here are previous installments of Straussian Beatles.  By the way, “Yesterday” may in part be about the early death of Paul’s mother.

Straussian Beatles: Baby’s in Black

Here is the song, and yes I know all about Astrid Kirchherr (who often wore black) and the deceased Stu Sutcliffe.  The song has yet another meaning, related to the girl chasing of John and Paul, and Liverpool’s longstanding role as a center for English Catholicism, with about half of the population being Catholic in background.  Here are some of the lyrics, with commentary from me in brackets, and note I capitalized the “H” for my own purposes:

Oh dear, what can I do?
Baby’s in black and I’m feeling blue [she’s in line to become a nun, and won’t screw me]
Tell me, oh what can I do?

She thinks of Him [Jesus, God, etc.]
And so she dresses in black [garb of a nun]
And though he’ll never come back [no second coming!]
She’s dressed in black…[pretty futile this nun thing, isn’t it?]

I think of her
But she thinks only of Him
And though it’s only a whim [she doesn’t really believe all that stuff, does she?]
She thinks of Him

Oh how long will it take
‘Til she sees the mistake she has made?
Dear, what can I do?
Baby’s in black and I’m feeling blue [“blue balls”?]
Tell me, oh what can I do?

One interesting non-lyrical feature of the song is how it features dual melodic lines, one sung by Paul the other by John.  As this was 1965, Paul is singing the higher part, as was typically the case in those years.  Yet somehow by 1967, John ended up with the much higher vocal parts and Paul the lower.  It wasn’t just the helium.

Here is the previous edition of Straussian Beatles.

Straussian Beatles cofounders — We Can’t Work It Out

The Beatles 1965 song “We Can Work It Out” typically is taken as a tale of harmonious cooperation, a kind of precursor to “All You Need is Love,” but expressing the ability of the Beatles to work together toward productive outcomes and furthermore to stay united as friends.  (All before the bitter split of course.)  Well, if you know a bit about the Beatles (and Strauss) that isn’t exactly how it is presented in the actual tune.  There are plenty of esoteric references in Beatle songs and solo Beatle songs, and I don’t just mean drug lingo or “Paul is dead” clues.

As background, you do need to know that Paul was the group’s workaholic, and John, while an immense talent, was, um…not the group’s workaholic.  Paul also was renowned as a master of passive-aggressive threats, all the way keeping up the smile and charm and the perfect demeanor.  The song reflects this dynamic.  It is basically Paul singing that we really have to do things his way, and John singing back “complaints of surrender.”  Let’s now turn to the song, with my annotations throughout in brackets:

Paul singing cheerily:

Try to see it my way
Do I have to keep on talking ’til I can’t go on? [I’m going to keep on bugging you until you give in]
While you see it your way
Run the risk of knowing that our love may soon be gone [Escalation: I am willing to threaten you over this one and go to the mat]
We can work it out [You’re going to give in to me]
We can work it out [You really are going to give in, believe me on this one]
Think of what you’re saying
You can get it wrong and still you think that it’s alright [You don’t know what you are doing in the studio the way I do]
Think of what I’m saying
We can work it out and get it straight, or say good night [we really do need to put more time in on this one]
We can work it out
We can work it out [my way]

John singing in plaintive minor key:

Life is very short, and there’s no time [Can we just go home now?]
For fussing and fighting, my friend [I’m tired of all this, aren’t you supposed to be on my side?]
I have always thought that it’s a crime [The bickering is mainly your fault, and yes it is really terrible]
So, I will ask you once again…

Paul interrupts, again singing cheerily:

Try to see it my way [I’m really not giving up on this one]
Only time will tell if I am right or I am wrong [Last time you did it my way the song was a big hit, in fact every time…]
While you see it your way
There’s a chance that we might fall apart before too long [more passive-aggressive threats]
We can work it out
We can work it out

An excellent song, both musically and lyrically, but not always appreciated for its full subtleties.  It is clear that Paul ends up getting his way, and that is how they “work it out.”  Paul increasingly exerted his will in the studio, leading the Beatles to produce such classics as Sgt. Pepper and Abbey Road, whereas John had been the more dominant influence on earlier albums such as Hard Day’s Night.  The Beatles, of course, split up five years later and were in tatters well before that.

Sunday assorted links

1. David Autor on the labor shortage (NYT).

2. Lawrence H. White corrects the record on Hayek.

3. China fact of the day: “…of all countries looked at by the IMF, in 2000 China had the most decentralized government as measured by the percentage of spending that is local.”  NB: Better link is this one.

4. A fourth dose for Israel?

5. The culture that is Serbia?  And Straussian Beatles Man We Was Lonely.

6. CDC once again not heeding the science, not even the medical science (much less expected value maximization).  And yet further obvious, rookie screw-ups.  And where are those Delta-specific boosters?

7. Ross Douthat on the American Empire (NYT).

*Get Back*, I

Everything that gets done runs through Paul.  As Adam Minter put it (excellent thread more generally):

Nothing would get done if Paul weren’t there. But it’s a fine line, because he’s irritating. also – Ringo, in my opinion, has deep deep reservoirs of patience. I don’t know how he go through some of those days.

In this “prepping for a no overdubs, pure live performance” setting, the studio doesn’t matter.  And control over studio production was how Paul exerted an increasing authority over the Beatles.  “Let’s work on this more together” de facto meant “let’s give me, Paul, greater influence over the proceedings.”  Yet without his studio expertise as a Williamsonian trump card, Paul has to be more of a pain in the ass to induce effort and focus from the others.

“I’m scared of me being the boss, and I kind of have been for a couple of years,” or something like that, is what Paul says.  “I know it’s right, and you know it’s right” comes shortly thereafter (remember this?).

“Whatever it is that will please you, I will do it” responds George.  John in turn mutters something about maybe they should improvise the whole thing.

George Martin is rendered irrelevant, due to the studio production being omitted, and mostly he stands around and looks like a guy who used to do ads for bad British cars in the 1960s.

Two highlights are Paul singing a mock version of “Gimme’ Some Truth,” and John singing a mock version of “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer.”  Doesn’t the film show it was actually George who broke up the Beatles?  (Or Ringo in 1968?)  Doesn’t the person who leaves first split up the relationship?

What is quiet Yoko thinking the whole time?

And from Dave Bueche:

  • It’s surprising to see them digging around for material.  You’d think they would have had a lineup of songs before they started the project.
  • Twickenham [the studio] seems like a drag.  You can tell they don’t love it either.  It’s big and cavernous and a few colored lights doesn’t change that.
  • There’s a certain sad nostalgia in them playing all the old standards they learned in Germany and Liverpool.  Like they know this the end and they’re sort of reliving the beginning one last time.
  • Paul is clearly more invested than the others.  George seems like he’s trying to just learn the songs, do his bit, same with Ringo.  John seems like he’s a good sport, but other than Don’t Let Me Down – he seems to be going through the motions.
  • It’s fun seeing them cover Dylan and other contemporaries.

The reviews are all “oh, this shows the Beatles loved working together until the very end.”  That’s a pretty superficial read of the material.  To me, Get Back is much more about “how the main value adders control small groups in a somewhat tyrannical and mostly efficient manner, and why this isn’t always stable.”  Mancur Olson remains underrated.

“All Things Must Pass” just wasn’t that good a song, and it would have been worse as a Beatles song.

Here is a very good Jonathan Freedland review.