Robert Bunter: The Beatles had an uncanny ability to parody established genres while simultaneously transcending them. This is one of those times. "Oh! Darling" comes on and the fools all think to themselves: "Hahaha! Listen to this! They're making fun of the '50s!" It's only later that they realize: there was never any music as good as this in the '50s! Compared to this masterpiece, the '50s sound like the '30s. Little Richard never sang a song this good, just like Brian Wilson never wrote a song as good as [obvious Beach Boys pastiche] "Back In The U.S.S.R." (actually, he wrote many songs which were way better).
Richard Furnstein: I think you just nailed what always bugged me about this one. "Oh! Darling" is the Beatles contributing some dated corn for empty nostalgia. It reminds me of those "in the style of the stupid '50s" songs from the Dirty Dancing OST. I'm just waiting for the ghoulish digital reverb saxophone to swoop in and impregnate my brain with sock hops and racial tension.
Robert Bunter: Listen to those backup vocals, those tom-toms, those tremelo guitar arpeggios on the bridge, that bassline! You are truly in the presence of greatness, and I don't know how you can just sit there and take it. The Beatles had three gears: great, perfect and just the most amazing thing you've ever heard. I'd put "Oh! Darling" in the latter category.
Richard Furnstein: You just described the appeal of the weakest moments on Abbey Road. Even the crap on that album sounds like a candy apple played through a diamond stylus. Much praise goes to Ringo and his sweet calf toms and George flexing his ego (I would contend for the first time!) and his perfect tones. Ringo and George truly reached into the bowl and polished some dank turds during this period.
Robert Bunter: Beatles lore tells us that John was resentful of the fact that Paul didn't allow him the chance to sing the lead on this track (similar to his bruised sense of exclusion from "Why Don't We Do It In The Road," which was recorded with Paul and Ringo only). He had a point, in the sense that it's very easy to picture what Lennon would have done with it ... he would have given it the same great throat-shredding Plastic Ono treatment that he gave to old chestnuts like "Dizzy Miss Lizzy" on the Live Peace In Toronto record.
But Paul does such a great job, it's almost impossible to imagine he would have the maturity to offer the lead vocal spot to his old friend John. He didn't need any help, but imagine if he had done it! It could have been just the thing to ameliorate the old wounds which were tearing these rock and roll brothers apart. Could it be that a Lennon lead vocal on "Oh! Darling" would have prevented the breakup? We'll never know. We can only ponder the possibilities on blogs.
Richard Furnstein: You did it again, old friend. I came into this discussion with a chip on my shoulder and left with a twinkle in my eye and a lump in my pants. I've got a case of the "Beatles What If's," doc. The only prescription is more Beatles. Spin this one again, Robert! I want to imagine John smacking his gum and delivering the hectic breakdown.