Wednesday, May 25, 2011

I'm Happy Just To Dance With You

Richard Furnstein: Chick chop! The rhythm's in the guitars, the Beatles insist. Ringo agrees and plods all over this song. It's girl group by numbers for John Lennon, who dumps the awkward and confusing lyrics on the youngest, worst toothed Beatle. "Before this dance is through, I think I'll love you to" kicks off the song and we're already baffled. Then the salacious Lennon claims that he wants to skip the formalities of love ("hand holding" and "hugging and kissing") and get straight to the dancing. Maybe Lennon is using "dancing" as a metaphor for "crippling co-dependent deviant sexual relationship built on Oedipal humiliation and primal separation anxiety."

Robert Bunter: I hate to say it, but I think this song is really at the bottom of the Beatles barrel. It is an absolutely wonderful barrel and I love every note these young men ever waxed, but "I'm Happy Just To Dance With You" collects several of the worst tendencies of the early moptop years. They had very quickly established a song formula of "startling new innovations." In this case, the novelty embellishments (unconventional minor key introduction and unique chord progression, vague mambo rhythm) come off rather limp and uninspired. Let me hasten to add the usual caveats: they were hugely overworked at this point, being chased around the world by throngs of hooting lunatics, jet-lagged, constantly under pressure from record companies, filming a movie and redefining their generation. So can you blame them for letting loose a few stinkers? I can't. It's fine. Who are we to complain? And yet: this one really suffers from appearing right after the geniuinely revolutionary "If I Fell" and the haunting "And I Love Her."  

Richard Furnstein: I mainly agree with you, although I can find some pleasure in the dramatic chorus and the ghostly backup vocals (some strong Lennon moments back there in the reverb chamber). I mainly find myself loving this song because it's a Harrison vocal on a Lennon/McCartney original; allowing A Hard Day's Night to be the only Beatles album completely composed by Lennon/McCartney. It's a heck of an accomplishment for a band that was running on fumes after the first year of Beatlemania. Yet, as you point out, they were writing their strongest material yet and advancing emotions without dipping too far into schmaltzy waters. "Happy To Dance" is one of the missteps on the album. But, one of the Beatles low points ended up being a huge hit for the Lubbock Babes in the late 1980s. That's the music biz for ya!

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