Thursday, April 21, 2011

I'll Be On My Way

Robert Bunter: The scenario: Paul knocks off some boilerplate Buddy Holly and the Crickets '50s rock in 1963. Even he knows it's not good enough for the Fabs. So they call up Billy J. Kramer and the Dakotas. "Hey, Billy: you know how you're about to cover one of our songs? Why don't you put this other one on the B-side? Sure, you can have it. It's all yours. We'll get the songwriting money, of course. Sometimes when we think to ourselves about our future in rock and roll, we consider becoming professional songwriters for other artists, so they can have hits, too. It makes us feel like Lieber and Stoller or Goffin and King. Oh, and Billy? Do you want to know a secret? You stink."

Richard Furnstein: You have to feel for the Billy J. Kramer & The Dakotas and the Peter and Gordons of the world. The Beatles were high as kites on King Shit Mountain, popping open endless pies and chortling with glee while a host of lesser beings were cowering in the valley of Thine Greatness. The best that these subhumans could hope for was a few soggy pizza bones to find their way into their desperate valley.

Robert Bunter: The Beatles own version on Live At The BBC is competent. They don't seem to be putting too much effort or heart into this one, but that's what those BBC shows were sometimes like. "Hey, we're just here hanging out at the radio studio, having a few laughs and reading fan mail." "Say, would you boys like to play another song for us?" "Sure, that would be gear. Here's one that we wrote and gave to Billy J. Kramer. He's a great bloke, really." "Say, you sound awfully condescending, Paul." "Yes, I have a very superior attitude."

Richard Furnstein: Exactly. That's the anatomy of "I'll Be On My Way"--egomaniacs write some trite pop for inferior musicians. The Beatles could hardly bother to toss off the BBC version. I think they maybe spent five minutes, seven minutes tops, recording this song. The waif clocks in just under two minutes and you have to factor in a few minutes for some milk breathed intern to tweak some royal seal encrusted microphones. Maybe a minute for John to dash off to the W.C. for a quick fag or to pilfer a few English "Crisps" from a fetid catering cart. Uh-oh, it's time to cut this one. Cue some aging British ghoul: "Say boys, here's a sincere question for the dying listeners at home that you are just about to steamroll into oblivion. Can you answer with a flippant and brilliant observation? Can John just make a monkey face and put on his best Peter Sellers? He can? Golly, thanks for the guiding light in the pathetic darkness that is our lives, you stoner casual sex supermen!"

Robert Bunter: OK, are you gonna talk about the lyric "As the June light turns to moonlight" or should I?

Richard Furnstein: You just did! But yeah, that couplet is the ultimate sign that Lennon/McCartney weren't breaking a sweat on this throwaway. "Good news, Billy J. The Beatles wrote you a song. Bad news, Billy J. It kind of stinks!"

It is insulting that the incredible Live At The BBC collection was promoted as the only place to get the Beatles recording of this lost Lennon/McCartney classic. There are so many killer recordings on that double disc set that it is easy to ignore this weak effort. Apple should have been promoting sweet recordings of "Soldier of Love," "Nothin' Shakin'," "Sweet Little Sixteen," and "Ooh! My Soul!" instead.

Robert Bunter: I think we've said all there is to say about this song. Sure, it's great!

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