Wednesday, July 20, 2011

I Need You

Robert Bunter: I'd make a serious case for this one as the best of the early George tracks. My man Harrison didn't really develop his own voice until about Revolver, so the yardstick by which I measure the early stuff is, how close does this come to the glory of a Lennon-McCartney song? "I Need You" goes a long way in that direction. It's got a beautiful mood (two lovers having a deep relationship discussion in the mellow sunset glow at the end of a melancholy Sunday in London) that is sustained nicely throughout the song. Of course, it wouldn't be an early Harrisong without some really clumsy lyrics. "[You] said you had a thing or two to tell me / How was I to know you would upset me?" anyone? He uses two words that don't rhyme ("tell" and "upset"), but he figures it's okay because he just repeats the word "me" in both lines. And do you know what? It is okay. It's completely fine. I'm not going to sit here and pick nits when I could just bask in the wonderfulness that is George Harrison's 1965 track I Need You. Richard?

Richard Furnstein: Harrison the prize fighter heads back in the ring with "I Need You." He's still in the welterweight division, but is no longer suffering humiliating losses such as "I'm Happy Just To Dance With You" and "You Know What To Do." This track from Help! suggests that Harison is slowly working his way up the ranks; delights such as "If I Needed Someone" and "Love You To" are right around the corner. "I Need You" is still a bit unformed and ugly (the uneven volume pedal touches that disrupted the contemporary recording "Yes It Is" and the cowbell and moan bridge that attempts to cover up George's inability to significantly vary the melodic range), but fits well along with the awkward pre-Rubber Soul efforts from John and Paul.

Meanwhile, John, high on marijuana, gives it the old pump-and-
strum on his Guild Jumbo and moans nicely on the background harmonies.

Robert Bunter: Let's take a glance at the musical arrangement. Ringo keeps it simple and steady, with a little added percussion on the bridge (cowbell? claves?) for emphasis. Paul is admirably restrained on the bass, sticking to the roots and fifths. In years to come, George would complain about Paul's busy basslines on tracks like Something, but of course we know that he was just being bitchy because McCartney didn't want him playing stupid call-and-response guitar lines after every stanza of Hey Jude, which would have been really obnoxious and I have to say Paul was right in that case. But here, Paul gives him nothing to complain about. "I'll just keep it simple, OK, George? In fact, I can hardly be bothered to contribute to this thing at all, because I treat you as a second-rate talent and belittle your contributions. It's nice that you have written a song called I Need You based on that stupid D-chord thing where you wiggle your pinky around on the E-string which sounds like something I might have tossed off in 1963. You'll have to excuse me, I need to go get ready to record "Yesterday," "I'm Down," and "I've Just Seen A Face" in one single session. Yes, George, I'm telling the truth." That really did happen. Meanwhile, John, high on marijuana, gives it the old pump-and-strum on his Guild Jumbo and moans nicely on the background harmonies. And in the center of the stage is George Harrison, singing earnestly and doing that volume-swell trick with the guitar knob. Sure, it's not as revolutionary as Lennon inventing feedback or McCartney bringing in a string quartet, but what do you expect from the least talented of the three main Beatles?

Richard Furnstein: Self righteous moaning? Musically tedious drones? Uneven teeth? Curry stained fingertips?

Just kidding, Dark Horse 4EVA. R.I.P., George. We will never forget you.

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