Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Long, Long, Long

Richard Furnstein: "Long, Long, Long" is the dusk weeper on The Beatles. The first strains of morning light find George shaking off the red wine and hashish burn. The youngest Beatle is surprisingly tender and direct here, delivering a simplistic love song in a dark and cloudy setting. It sets up a nice formula that George will later perfect on All Things Must Pass. Here, it's a simple and necessary break to the heavy groove side of the double album.

Robert Bunter: You know, for years, I used to skip this one whenever I listened to the White Album. I would literally get up and change the record. I must have played it once and made some snap judgement that this (mostly) quiet dreary dirge wasn't worthy of my attention. I'm serious! I did it every time. I'm always expecting "Helter Skelter" to go right to "Revolution 1." Doing this had the somewhat pleasant side effect of allowing me to "rediscover" this "lost gem" years later with fresh ears. But still - I feel a real sense of shame. Here I am, running off at the mouth as a Beatles expert, after spending years ignoring a side-ending song on the White Album. I can't even look you in the eye, Richard.

Richard Furnstein: A tragedy. You realize that George Martin was particularly keen on the first and last songs when he was sequencing Beatles sides, right? Listen to the joy and release in the final build and wail of this song. It's the sound of a vampire caught by the sun. Simultaneously basking in the warm rays of a new day and regretting and questioning the night before. The ecstasy in George's voice makes it seem like he's relieved that the sun has finally had its way. High end speakers (such as the gorgeous set of Krells in my study) are able to pick up George's bottle of red vibrating during the finale.

Robert Bunter: You're doing a really good job of describing this song evocatively.

Richard Furnstein: Ha, thanks. Speaking of "Long, Long, Long," this clocks in at a hair past three minutes. The mood and pace of the song makes it seem much longer. Usually, this would be a negative, but you never really want the lovely vibes of this song to end. George allegedly modeled the chords in "Long Long Long" after Bob Dylan's "Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands," another example of a song that is shorter than it feels. Sure, it's over eleven minutes long, but it feels about twenty.

Robert Bunter: The White Album often gives that impression of endlessness. By the time it's over (and Ringo has sung you to sleep with "Good Night"), you feel like you've been listening for a hundred years. In the context of the mental image you've painted for this song (bleary-eyed hungover George greets the redeeming warmth of the morning's rays), what do you make of the freaky ending segment? It sounds like he fixed a cup of coffee and then just decided to put some LSD in it. That eerie moaning might represent the experience of his humble plate of beans and English "crisps" starting to morph into acid trails while his ego dissolves. Time for another typical Tuesday!


  1. i too used to skip over this tune! to the casual ear, it's a snoozer, but I too was waaaaay wrong. such a great tune! I think another reason for skipping is its SO QUIET!

  2. One of my favorite things is the progression from Sexy Sadie to Helter Skelter to Long, Long, Long. It undoes me a bit. An amazing triptych, if you can say that about music.