Wednesday, May 11, 2011
She Loves You
Richard Furnstein: After 100 (mostly) tedious write-ups, it's a real pleasure to arrive at the best Beatles song. Sure, "She Loves You" was their first great song and it would be trumped about twenty times in the catalog, but I stand by it as the best of the Beatles. It's without a doubt the most perfectly arranged song, establishing itself with a shambolic Ringospurt and concluding with an otherwordly ending, an overdose of melancholy and raw enthusiasm. The mono version is a wild animal of rock and roll recording. The gang "yeah yeah yeahs" are perfectly loud. The guitars chop (and in George's case, sometimes grace). Paul's bass provides some necessary muscle in this tinny performance. The song is 100% about Ringo's brutal punishment of his hi-hat. The cymbal is only spared when Ringo switches to one of his collapsing fills. George Martin and the Abbey Road lads seem incapable of controlling the monitors on the drums, the recording level swoons and sharpens several times during the recording. It's a beautiful mess of a song (and recording) and the entire foundation for the Beatles changing the world and raising pop culture standards. And, lucky us, it hasn't lost any of its primal excitement in years of heavy exposure.
Robert Bunter: Much ink has been spilled on how the Beatles were "spokesmen for their generation," but songs like this one speak for all humans (and probably many of the more highly-evolved animal species) throughout the entire universe. The beat is as primal and true as the first sound you ever experienced (Mother's heartbeat in the womb, probably). The lyrics: simple pronouns that address the listener directly. It's your good friend, The Beatles, and he's got some wonderful news to share.
"YEAH YEAH YEAH." These four primitive young men, barely out of their teens, managed to hit upon the most fundamental human expression - simple affirmation - with the somnambular intuition of true artists. You could substitute "Amen" or "Hallelujah" without any intrinsic change in meaning. By using the lexicon of the hormone-jacked, gum-chewing teenage rock and rollers who were their primary audience, the Beatles completely transcend the burdens of rational thought. We are left with a pure, undiluted religious experience that hits right at the center of the brain and makes the listener's heart swell and explode.
Richard Furnstein: "She Loves You" is the ease your feet into the water moment for the Beatles. They were birthed into the filth of Liverpool to deliver the gospel of L-O-V-E to a changing world. Early efforts like "P.S. I Love You" and "Love Me Do" hinted at the greatness of this emotion and its ability to fundamentally reshape your life. "She Loves You" is the full on love revolution. For the first time, the Beatles seem to understand their greatness; they are grinning as they walk across the coals, staring down the terrified natives in the eyes. They'd probably walk on water, if only John wouldn't blow the significance of that move way out of proportion.
The subject matter of the songs suggest that the Beatles are fully aware of their powers. They are insanely handsome, charming, rich, and talented, but they are here to be your friends, to serve as matchmakers for the weak mortals who are suffering in love's cruel game. Where Lennon would typically tear apart the woman (women, of course, being the primary source of his abandonment fears and insecurities), he treats the female character in "She Loves You" with compassion ("apologize to her!"). She's made up her mind and she has trusted this band of superheroes to deliver her love decree. They do their job perfectly in "She Loves You," telling their friend about the woman's love and encouraging him to move towards the light and the gladness. It's a fascinating way to tell the story of love in a two minute pop song, all the while allowing the Beatles to seem like humble, wise friends. Friends you want to invite into your mindspace again and again again.
Robert Bunter: If you are saying to yourself, "Oh, come off it. It's one of their better early rockers but it doesn't get anywhere near the peak achievements of Revolver, Pepper, "Old Brown Shoe," and Abbey Road," I want you to go listen to this thing (mono, of course) as loud as you can get it to go. I don't care if you are at work. As you listen, think of those old black and white videos of kids screaming as loud as they possibly can and rocking back and forth like they were possessed by the Holy Spirit. Cast your mind back to a time when you were capable of feeling something so pure. Inhabit the moment. GAZE. Then, when it's over, play it back again. You're welcome. I accept your apology.
Richard Furnstein: You have no choice to play it back again. The suspended "you know you should" at the end of the song sets up a tidal wave of incredible rock and roll. The final "glad" levels all of your fears, communication mix-ups, insecurities, and anxieties. Your mind is now a blank slate, ready to accept the communion again and again. Yeah yeah yeah. Yeah yeah yeah. Yeah yeah yeah yeahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.
Original Beatles fan art by Thomas Hughes (www.spintoband.com)