Friday, April 22, 2011

Good Day Sunshine

Robert Bunter: Is there anything more universally human than reverence for the life-sustaining warmth of the sun? The Greeks personified it as Helios, son of Hyperion, piloting his shining chariot from East to West each day. Even in today’s modern world of lightning-speed technology and 24-hour media saturation, who among us has not paused to bask in the benevolent glow of …

Richard Furnstein: I'm going to stop you right there because you sound like an idiot. Paul's checking in with a twirling vaudeville hat and playful cane. He's kicking off side two of Revolver the only way he knows how: with perfect pop that provides only a slight whiff of the drug abuse that runs loose on the rest of the album. The subversive twists are subtle on "Good Day Sunshine"--the slow motion distorted chug of the introduction, the key change (if this suggests mind alteration, then Barry Manilow may be Timothy Leary), and vocals that swirl around the listener like sweet opium birds. Paul would search for a similar vibe with later side two lead off hitters "Martha My Dear" and "Hello Goodbye" (please forgive me for referencing a Capitol tracklisting), a little saccharine to lead you through the inevitable end of album drug haze.

Robert Bunter: When you’re right, you’re right. This is the first time in the catalog that Paul did one of these old-timey shuffles. I can imagine John and George giving each other little sidelong glances as they stood at the microphone recording the fantastic vocal harmonies. “George, this is a little fruity.” “I think you’re quite right, John. Paul has written a fruity song.” Ringo just sat in the corner playing cards with Neil Aspinall, having finished his tracks two days ago. Astute fans will note that the seeds of the breakup were planted here. George was looking forward to going home and spending more time burning joss sticks, listening to his sarod records and getting fitted for a flowing pair of silk yoga briefs. John, meanwhile, just noticed that his ego is a plastic illusion and is still seeing “fish with heads” in the corners of his vision. Against this backdrop, Paul’s mildly-psychedelicized update of 1930’s music hall razzmatazz must have really grated.

Richard Furnstein: I beg to differ, I think Paul's first few forays into the fruit bowl were seen as deliciously subversive from the Ultimate Gang™. Delightful, even. A drop of purple windowpane into granny's tea. A nice dusting of opium on Auntie Minn's biscuits. Paul wanted to welcome the entire world into the expanse of drugs and love and rich blonde girls on summer lawns. You aren't going to catch the elusive old lady fish with "Dr. Robert" or "Rain," you have to throw them a bone to bring out their inner freaky deaky. Sure, Paul later took it too far (I'm sure John wanted to freeze Paul's bloomers when "Honey Pie" was being tracked) but he's decidedly on point here.

Robert Bunter: Well, you’ve convinced me. Your theory that John and George felt good about Paul’s Revolver songwriting is difficult to argue with. I suppose I was reading too much into it, my perspective somewhat distorted by the hindsight of their later disdain for things like Maxwell’s Silver Hammer. It’s easy to imagine all the boys (as well as George Martin) smiling delightedly while Paul presented them with this mid-period gem. “George, I think Paul did a really good job here.” “When you’re right, you’re right, John. IT’S LIKE A NICE DUSTING OF OPIUM ON AUNTI MINN’S BISCUITS.”

Richard Furnstein: Exactly. And you know Ringo was digging it because he was drunk and playing the most killer drums! Another day in the life of the four greatest human beings in Earth history.

Robert Bunter: (disgusted) Yeah.

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