Friday, October 14, 2011

I Me Mine

Richard Furnstein: I feel bad about getting on George Harrison's contributions to Let It Be. Clearly, the man was on autopilot at this point; counting down the days until he could cash in his unused sick pay and vacation days. He couldn't help offering half finished songs to the miserable Let It Be sessions. To be fair, nobody else was really trying (except for a big bearded Paul delivering his greatest late period song in "Let It Be"), but somehow the mediocrity was most evident in offerings like "For You Blue" and "I Me Mine." It could come down to George's whiny voice (God only gave him one voice, you know) and self flagellating and dim lyrics. The Beatles were throwing a miserable party. Please let George take your coat. On second thought, keep it on. It's freezing here in Twickenham.

Robert Bunter: I disagree. In defense of “I Me Mine,” I’d like to point out that it offers a really unique sound that was never really developed elsewhere in the Beatles catalog or George’s solo work: a sort of grey, wintry waltz with strings, organs and diminished chords which is leavened with periodic rave-ups (I guess you could say he pursued the rave ups on LP three of All Things Must Pass, but still). In terms of arrangement, I’d rank this track as the best thing Phil Spector did for Let It Be … his strings and choirs suit the spiritual theme of the lyric, plus he edited an extra verse onto the end by taking a previous verse and repeating it. Lyrically, George is treading the well-trod Beatles ground of warning the world about the dangers of the human ego, but between the lines you can sense he’s really directing his barbs at the grasping, selfish fighting of Lennon and McCartney; and, beyond that, at himself. I think you’d have to admit, that’s further than most of the lyrics on this album take us. We’ve got a buddy song (“Two Of Us), a weird sensual party (“Dig A Pony”), a transcendental hymn (“Across The Universe.” OK, that disproves my point a little bit, but is that even a proper Let It Be track? Come on now. World Wildlife Foundation and all that. It should be considered separately), an unfocused rant (“Dig It”), an admittedly great McCartney hymn (“Let It Be”), a stupid folk busker (“Maggie Mae”), a Badfinger template (“I’ve Got A Feeling”), a 1958 retread (“One After 909”), a less-great McCartney hymn (“Long And Winding Road”), a Harrison stinkbomb (“For You Blue”) and a throwaway rocker (“Get Back”). With the possible exception of “Let It Be,” “I Me Mine” is the only track that maintains the Beatles’ status as a religious band.

Clearly, Harrison was on autopilot at this point; counting down the days until he could cash in his unused sick pay and vacation days.


Richard Furnstein: I have no idea what you are talking about. A religious band? Just because of the church organ? Listen harder and better, my friend. I could hear "I Me Mine" clogging up the arteries on Side Four of All Things Must Pass (flows nicely out of "I Dig Love") but the vocal take is closer to the restrained hysterics that defined that album's poorly received follow up Living In The Material World. I will admit that "I Me Mine" sounds incredibly delicious; it is by far the best Spector touch on the album. The production walks the line of becoming a full on choir in the barn rave up, but ultimately it is the unlikely restraint in the horn and orchestral swells that give balance to the song's bloated subject matter.

Robert Bunter: I don’t say religious band because of the church organ but because they were sent by God to bring Love to the Universe. And that’s just what they did, when they weren’t behaving like indulgent clods. What is bloated about the subject matter? “A heavy waltz … a dissection of the ego, the eternal problem” as George put it. Nothing bloated about that. OK, I’ll admit, that is a bloated thing to say. But the lyrics themselves are concise and well-placed. If you don’t like my take on “I Me Mine” so far, try this on for size: it is FAR SUPERIOR to its companion track, “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.”


Richard Furnstein: Well, I'm glad that statement is on the public record so that you can plead insanity in the future. This is making me think about everything that you've written in a new light. I'd love to hear your ridiculous theories on George's Gone Troppo or his "I Don't Want To Do It" from the Porky's II Original Soundtrack.

Robert Bunter: It’s all in the mind.

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