Thursday, May 19, 2011

Fixing A Hole

Richard Furnstein: Much like "Penny Lane," "Fixing A Hole" is evidence that Paul McCartney could match John Lennon in abstract, emotional, and unconventional songwriting. It's unlike anything else in the Beatles catalog (or in the subsequent McCartney solo work). The introduction suggests a McCartney old time revue, but the song quickly kicks into an unusual meld of progressive rock and carnival music while maintaining a loose druggy vibe (especially at the "where it will go" ending). A lot of credit goes to George for a series of innovative lead guitar bits, a series of swoons and honks that dance with and around George Martin's buttoned down harpsichord.

Robert Bunter: To me, this is the most “Sgt. Pepper-ish” of the tracks on this album. As you said, it sounds simultaneously old-fashioned and like nothing else that ever happened. This is one of those songs that must have left first-time listeners totally baffled. You can picture them seated on paisley beanbag chairs, staring at the LP sleeve and trying to figure out what dear Paul is talking about. At first we seem to be dealing with grey, dull home repairs on a cloudy day … but what do holes in the roof and cracks in the door have to do with Paul’s mind? There’s clearly more than meets the eye here. Paul doesn’t usually write about himself, so rare occasions when he does assume exaggerated importance – yet Fixing A Hole seems to cloak everything in wordplay and unclear pronunciations: is his mind “wondering where it will go” (referring to the rain that gets in) or “wandering where it will go” (referring to his drug-induced freedom of thought)? Does he mean “When I’m wrong I’m right [correct]?” or “When I’m wrong / I’m right where I belong?” It’s all just so inscrutable.

Richard Furnstein: To me, Paul's goals are clear. Again, we're looking at the Beatles on the edge of an extended holiday of mind expansion. No more carting Vox AC-30s to the Alabamas of the world. No more fitting in Murray The K into their mornings. Just a long road ahead of recreational drug use, scratch and sniff stickers, jazz rock (if you want it), and beautiful girls with intellectual, Buddhist parents. "I'm making the time for a couple of things that weren't important yesterday." Paul has his priorities straight and is gently suggesting you do the same. Compare Paul hinting at the idyllic future of peace and love to George bemoaning the intellectually and spiritually lazy. Paul is suggesting that it's all out there. You may want to reconsider your plans to take over your dad's barbershop. Have you been to San Francisco, man? Try it out, if you want. The air is moist, the tunes are ragged, and the burritos are delicious.

Robert Bunter: To me, you’re reading too much into it. I don’t hear any exhortations for listeners to embrace a carefree lifestyle here, although that’s undoubtedly happening elsewhere in the 1967-68 catalogue. Basically, I just hear a foggy-minded lyricist (tired?) who’s expressing himself in fractured, obtuse metaphors. Nothing wrong with that! Personally, I love this track.

Richard Furnstein: Oh, so "I'm renovating my room in a colorful way, and when my mind is wandering there I will go" doesn't speak to a cultural and artistic revolution? Are you really that dense that you need your metaphors served with huge neon signs and academic validation of the Beatles significance from Bob Spitz?

Robert Bunter: Sometimes it's easier for me to understand your analysis of poetic and cultural meanings when you QUOTE THE LYRICS CORRECTLY. "Painting my room." It's not like we're talking about some dodgy Twickenham bootleg tracks here, it's Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Band, the most important Beatles album, with key tracks like "Lucy In The Diamond Sky," "Within You And Also Without You," and "It's Just A Day In The Life."

Um...Did you know it wasn’t recorded at Abbey Road, and that the lead vocal was recorded at the same time as the rhythm track? I know those facts from my own personal memory and archive of obscure trivia books and old magazine interviews, not because I just Wiki’d it. You’re right about George’s great guitar work. I’d also like to mention the great background vocals. It’s nice to listen to the whole track while paying special attention to the backups, they’re great. Wasn’t there a thing on YouTube recently when someone posted up each of the four separate tracks used on Sgt. Pepper? That might be something for you to find and then include a link to it on this writeup so the readers can hear what I’m talking about, Rich.

Richard Furnstein: No can do. I'm filling the cracks that ran through the door, buddy. And your crack ain't one of them.


  1. Here's the link to the Deconstructed Sgt. Pepper: