Robert Bunter: Personally, I put this one in the top tier of early Lennon angry weepers. The man is just doing what he does best: crying in his beer and angrily pondering the vicissitudes of a rigged game that has once again played him for a loser - a game called love. He's down, but not out. His words are glum, but his tone is menacing. A few more "pints" of lager and this old teddy boy's more than likely to throw his mug at the barroom mirror, laugh maniacally, goose the barmaid, march around imitating Hitler and punch Stu Sutcliffe in the head, unwittingly sowing the seeds of the cerebral hemorrhage which will send the tragic artist to an early grave. This post may be controversial, but I'm just reporting the facts.
Richard Furnstein: No, you are completely right. Lennon admits that he's mad and that he's "got a chip on his shoulder that's bigger than his feet." He only sees two paths ahead of him, make the girl feel sad for her actions or cry out the pain. As always, Lennon talks tough but retreats to the role of the lonely weeper. The proclamation that he'll be back and that the maidens of the world should be locked up is wishful thinking. Lennon will only return to form once he is sufficiently drunk or has entered into another dysfunctional relationship with a controlling woman who fills the role of his dead mother. Best of luck to you, John!
Robert Bunter: Lennon's characteristically inventive bridge plays the usual clever games with key changes and harmonic modulations. It's the kind of thing George tried to do on "You Like Me Too Much," but George came up short. John manages to take us on some weird detours but always remains solidly behind the steering wheel of the bus, taking us where he needs us to go. George's bridge sounds like he's just along for the ride, which is probably the way it was for George as a child, when his father was an actual bus driver in Liverpool. It's no wonder George looked up to John as a surrogate father figure, against which he later had to rebel in order to assert his own agency and independence: John's early bridges reminded him of his father's confident motoring style, while baby George was still trying to reach the pedals and operate a clutch. Hey, I'm sorry - these are the facts.
Richard Furnstein: A great comparison, Robert. I'm always mystified by the bridge (and the structure of the song in general). The way I hear it, "I'll Cry Instead" employs the structure of A-B-A-B-C-A-B-C-A-B. Huh, I guess that's not exotic at all, it just sounds more complicated than that because of the short duration of each of the song's movements and the baffling backing track. You goofs!
Robert Bunter: Sure, it’s baffling. Are the music’s unconventional harmonic motion and structural architecture a conscious attempt to mirror the lyric’s despondence and uncertainty? A tempting analysis, but probably (!) over-thinking it. It’s more likely that John was just cranking out another album filler track for what he called “the meat market” in between crazy screaming stadium gigs and besieged limo rides from luxury hotels to private planes. It’s just a wonderful accident that Lennon’s meat market crank-outs happened to be brilliant pop distillations which provided an unintentional window into their author’s fascinatingly damaged inner life. Who do you think we’re talking about here, Herman and the Hermits? This is The Beatles, and they packed more brilliant inspiration into throwaway tracks on the second side of their soundtrack albums than lesser artists could muster for their triple-lp concept albums, like the Smashing Pumpkins’ dopey Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness or whatever the hell that drippy waste of time was supposed to be called.