Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Can't Buy Me Love

Richard Furnstein: I really really want to be jaded about this song. It's a pretty mindless McCartney story song (part of his "Diamond Rings Collection"), features standard bashing from all four members, and provided the title to a regrettable Patrick Dempsey film with loose moral and social messages. Having said that, it's really hard to dislike this one. Paul shouts in that perfect way; Little Richard without all the threats of casual buggery and confounding slang. Ringo makes it personal against his cymbals. John and George stay out of the gee-darn way; this song isn't about them and their six string egos. Let Paul steer the boat for a bit.

Robert Bunter: Yeah. I think you have to put yourself back in 1964 to really analyze this one. With ears that have been spoiled by the intervening years of sonic delight the Beatles dished out like so much ice cream, "Can't Buy Me Love" definitely sounds a little impoverished. Dopey 12-bar blues changes, poorly-doubled guitar solo, sub-par lyrics. I'm sure the kids who bought this thing back in those primitive early years received it as a sonic revolution, but I want to go back in a time machine and yell in their face: "You have no idea what's coming down the pike, stupid punk kid. If you think this song is great, you're wrong. IT STINKS." But, really, it doesn't. I would be wrong in that scenario.

Richard Furnstein: While the lyrics are pretty incidental to this song, it does suggest a greater conflict with the Beatles during A Hard Day's Night. The band were clearly financial secure, the only limitations on this pod of incrediwhales were time and trust. "Can't Buy Me Love" strives for an emotional security. It's a tough lesson for a band of manchildren, who often secured their sexual needs in Hamburg with low cost, physically fearsome prostitutes. The Beatles' rapid ascent to fame certainly raised serious questions about emotional trust. Keep in mind, this is a band whose natural leaders were still coping with the deaths of their mothers. Paul hides all of this with some throwaway lyrics like "my friend" and "diamond rings," but the message of emotional dislocation is clear.

Robert Bunter: Yeah, what a shame the Beatles can't find true love because the women around them are too materialistic. I'm sure it didn't have anything to do with the fact that they drank to excess, paid off their castaway girlfriends to hide out-of-wedlock children, cheated on their wives and sexually assaulted terrified 15-year-old groupies in the dank concrete hallways of innumerable baseball stadiums and sports arenas.


Richard Furnstein: That's wild, but it's also wild that they didn't fade this one out. It features one of the more indecisive endings in the early Beatles catalog.

Robert Bunter: Also: nice use of acoustic guitar from the wonderful, creative early Beatles on this delightful track.

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