Wednesday, April 6, 2011

I Saw Her Standing There

Robert Bunter: How perfect is it that the Beatles' entire recorded career starts with a vigorous "one-two-three-FOUR!" countoff and ends with a stirring benedictory anthem entitled, yes, "The End"? I'll tell you how perfect: not at all. The Beatles recorded career actually started with the lackluster "Love Me Do" 45, and Abbey Road actually ends with the slight, fey McCartneydoodle I like to call "Her Majesty." And that's not even taking into account the fact that Let It Be was technically the last album released, even though it wasn't the last one to be recorded. So you can just discard everything you'd already thought about the perfect symmetry of the intro of "I Saw Her Standing There" and the gorgeous swan song of "The End." Wait, you haven't already thought about that? I guess I just assumed everybody learned about that in Beatles kindergarten. Richard, why don't you say a few words about this song. I need to collect myself.

Richard Furnstein: Paul plays it rough in the back of his throat and describes an indescribable seventeen year old girl. It's the Beatles at their most lascivious: the subject matter is all sleaze, their voices quickly jump from rough textures to howls, and the handclaps provide an insistent skin-on-skin shudder factor. Genuinely exciting stuff, even after all this time.

Robert Bunter: No doubt about that. Everybody knows the story about how Lennon injected primal sexuality into McCartney's original lyric draft, right? It was supposed to start "Well she was just seventeen / never been a beauty queen," but Lennon vetoed that and substituted "You know what I mean," thus forcing the listener to think about what he means, which is obviously that he thinks seventeen is the sexiest age a girl can possibly be. Wait, you people didn't already know that story?

Richard Furnstein: You are a real wealth of Beatles 101 information. Where are they from again? Liverville? I heard they were called the Silver Beatles at first! Can you confirm this please?

More on this song, trivia master: the verses are hardly revolutionary, but you have no real reason to expect the rush of the bridge. George delivers his solo deep in the Abbey Road Caverns, a sign that George Martin was probably not entirely sold on the youngster's shaggy riffology. If stuffy Mr. Martin had his way George and Ringo would have stayed at the docks at Liverlakes eating soggy fish and chips with aging beat relic Rory Storm. Sorry, George Martin, this is the band. I'm sure you'll be pleasantly surprised with the crew in time!

Robert Bunter:
Yeah, it's funny to think about the power George Martin still held over the boys at this early juncture. He was playing the part of the grownup behind the mixing board and they were supposed to be the provincial rookies who didn't know what they were doing. He's standing there (!) giving orders, sipping tea and telling Ringo not to play the cymbals so loud, and meanwhile he doesn't know that he's dealing with four transcendental supermen who will shake human civilization to its very foundations. John, Paul, George and Ringo must have chuckled indulgently when this staid, conservatory-trained EMI lackey started calling the shots. "Oh, you want us to turn it down, Mr. Martin? Of course, so sorry." Then they reach over and turn it UP. Yeah yeah yeah! Whoo-ee! SHAKE IT!

Richard Furnstein: Lennon is surprisingly restrained on this number. Sure, his harmonies ground Paul's urgent lechery but there is little to hint at the riots that Lennon will later cause in his lead vocals. In summary, "I Saw Her Standing There" is as great as it is supposed to be, maybe even greater if you are willing to completely accept the To Catch A Predator lyrics.

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