Thursday, March 31, 2011

I Don't Want To Spoil The Party

Robert Bunter: Well, here we are. We've arrived at what I like to call "the standout track on Beatles For Sale." For my money, this is the crux of any argument that someone might try to make that Beatles For Sale doesn't sort of suck (other pillars of this argument are "No Reply," "Baby's In Black," "I'm A Loser," "Rock And Roll Music," "I'll Follow The Sun," "Mr. Moonlight," "Eight Days A Week," "What You're Doing," "Words Of Love," and "Every Little Thing"). How many ways can I say "I really love this band?"

John is taking another stroll down lonely street here, but instead of screaming himself hoarse with revenge fantasies or cries of anguish, he tries the old passive-aggressive routine. Who among us has not done this? "Oh, you guys just keep on having fun. Really. Don't mind me. I'm just miserable because the woman my heart needs won't give me a play. Go on. I'm just going to go for a walk." This approach is clearly the result of immature adolescent solipsism. What's obviously going to happen is, the narrator will go on his self-pitying drunken mope and the rest of the gang is going to keep right on smoking cigarettes and listening to their new Bob Dylan albums and making out with each other on shabby brown sofas in cheap wine-soaked basements. Later that night, she'll show up and pair off with Gibbs or maybe Loose Lon. That's what it was really like in late 1964/early 1965, and, as usual, the Beatles have captured the mood of a generation.

Richard Furnstein: Lennon debuts the Dylan-inspired plunk and strum that will later define his "Help!" material. However, his words are still miles away from his latest inspiration. Sure, we've all been there, and Lennon himself is no stranger to self pity. The song revises the jealous wanderings of the same album's "No Reply" or perhaps serves as a prequel to that song's revelations of love behind window shades. He wanders off from the party, somehow winds up on her block, and hides in the bushes until his stupid heart is finally broken. "How was your night, John?" "Total shit, but I wrote two pretty neat songs this morning..."

Keep on walking and stay strong, John Lennon. Your day of vindication dawns anew, just around the next bend.
Robert Bunter: But it's not all sadness for our country-twangled narrator. The bruised optimism of the middle eight ("Though tonight she's made me sad") gives every indication that it won't be long before the emotionally wounded hero is back on top. And when the syncopated drum thumps show up ("I still love her"), you just know this ol' cowboy might still have a few moves in him. Keep on walking and stay strong, John Lennon. Your day of vindication dawns anew, just around the next bend.

Richard Furnstein: There's plenty of fish in the emotional stabbing sea, John. Buck up. Look at the sunny side. Oh, hey, your young friend George Harrison is stopping by to deliver a concise country and western guitar solo. Doesn't that make you smile?

Robert Bunter: Pop quiz: who's singing harmony with John on the verses? You have two seconds. BZZZZzzzt. Time's up. It's John himself, using a revolutionary new recording technique called "overdubbing." McCartney could have just as easily handled the part (he pops in beautifully on the bridge), but the use of one man's weary voice overlapped twice effectively conveys the sense of self-absorbed immaturity that animates this early masterpiece.

Richard Furnstein: Masterpiece!? I know that night that Loose Lon showed up at the Naus party with Christie was a tough one for you, Bunter. I totally get how you relate to this one. Get it under control, though. This song is serviceable on the Beatles' most serviceable album. Still, five stars!


  1. RIGHT ON! 5 STARS! That bridge is the part where you go to crank up the stereo in your 92 Taurus! For some reason, I always have George singing this in my head

  2. I hear you on the George vocal. I was a little shocked when I dug back into this album that it wasn't his song.