Tuesday, April 19, 2011

You Never Give Me Your Money

Robert Bunter: The Beatles did such a great job of encapsulating the emotions of humanity in song. Love, friendship, youthful excitement, spiritual oneness, social rebellion, confusion, fear, anger, nostalgia, sleepiness, boredom, contentment ... just buy yourself a copy of the mono box set (supplemented by Abbey Road, Let It Be and Yellow Submarine, of course) and you'll hear all of these (and so many more) evoked beautifully. Yet, some of the most heartbreaking moments in the catalog belong to those rare tracks where the boys sang about their own emotions. "You Never Give Me Your Money" is not a lyric that any of us can likely relate to. Paul is still singing about "you" and "me" like he's been doing since 1963, but this time, he's directly addressing the three close friends who are in the process of destroying the most important thing in his life - John Lennon, George Harrison and Richard Starkey (as I call him). Abbey Road is goddamn miracle of human achievement, and this song is one of the reasons why. With his entire life about to be wrenched apart, beautiful Paul manages to evoke the confusion and disappointment of the Beatles' upsetting legal battles and personal squabbles in a terrifyingly beautiful aching piano ballad. And that's just the beginning of the medley! It's the first act in an utterly incredible performance that is going to take us from this sad introduction through every possible shade of emotional color, finally culminating in a huge rock and roll extravaganza, a bone-crushing drum solo and a philosophical ending that puts everything they ever said into a 360-degree perspective of total cosmic wisdom.

Richard Furnstein:
Paul's in "sneak peek" mode, giving us some hints to his future with Wings. To be fair, Wings never quite reached the heights of "You Never Give Me Your Money." What we have here is mature candy; pop music that doesn't give a damn about format, conventional structure, lyrical theme, or sex and danger. It's the final destination of the Beatles' early movements away from pop conventions ("Nowhere Man," "Yesterday," "Paperback Writer").

Robert Bunter: How poignant to hear John and George harmonizing on this one. They were all so pissed off at Paul by now, they were ready to throw in the towel and break up the group. Yet, when he brought this song to the table, they had to admit: "This is really beautiful. It's almost enough to make me reconsider my opinion that you are the worst human being on the planet." They didn't, but that's because they were confused. Paul McCartney is FAR from the worst human being on the planet. I would say he's one of the best.

Richard Furnstein: I think this song is proof that he's one of the best. A superman of melody, taking the simple melodic themes of the introduction through passages that are at once frenetic, angelic, heavy, and, most importantly, beautiful. By his side is Ringo Starr, the other greatest human being on the planet, building a beautiful smooth ark with every bop of his hammer. The perfect descending riffs in this song are the sound of the boys setting off to sea. The sun is about to set, but goodness knows it's been a beautiful day.

Robert Bunter: Of course, this song doesn't end with the aching piano ballad. It breaks unexpectedly into a rock and roll thrill-ride, evoking the "magic feeling" of graduating college (something none of the Beatles had ever come close to doing) and having nowhere to go. Then he starts singing about "pick up the bags, get in the limousine," an obvious evocation of the Fabs' sudden rise to world fame, when "one sweet dream came true today." These are not situations that most of us mortals can relate to, yet Paul does such a great job, we feel like we can. Then we hear John's sardonic harmonies with the "1-2-3-4-5-6-7 / All good children go to heaven" chant, which sheds a darker light on Paul's feelgood vibes. George steps in with some brilliant guitar licks, and the sound effects start to gather themselves for "Sun King." You ought to get down on your knees right now and thank God for letting you be alive in the same world as side two of Abbey Road.

Richard Furnstein: Take this brother, may it serve you well.


  1. Have been enjoying your conversations - never figured I was alone in this, but I think Abbey Road, Side 2, is hands down one of the best things to ever happen to recorded music. Fabulous.